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Oued Massa - BirdForum Opus

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About 60km south of Agadir, Morocco is the mouth of Oued Massa, a tidal creek where an excellent range of seabirds, waders and waterfowl can be seen.

Part of the area has been protected as a biological reserve since 1980. Nearby, the village of Massa and the surrounding desert are home to many North African specialities and this area should be on the itinerary of any birding visitor to Morocco.


Notable Species

The coastline from Massa to Sous is now included in the Sous-Massa National Park, established to protect this stretch of the Moroccan coastline and its population of Northern Bald Ibis. However, this area is currently under threat of development for tourism. A sand bar has developed at the rivermouth effectively cutting it off from the sea except during the highest tides and creating a large lagoon.

Gulls, including Audouin's Gull, and terns of several species including Caspian Tern and Gull-billed Tern, are regular on the sand bar at the mouth of the river and rarities seen here include Lesser Crested Tern and West African Crested Tern.

The river itself has Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis and Eurasian Spoonbill, herons and egrets, Marbled Duck and Ruddy Shelduck. Eurasian Coot winter in large numbers in the rivermouth and Common Crane is a regular winter visitor to riverside reedbeds.

Raptors that can be seen in this area include Marsh Harrier and Osprey, Booted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle and Tawny Eagle. Dark Chanting Goshawk has been recorded at Oued Massa. Peregrine Falcon and Barbary Falcon are both regularly seen in the area. Plain Swift is possible here in winter.

The village of Massa has Spotless Starling, House Bunting, Moussier's Redstart and also Laughing Dove. The desert areas around the village are home to Mediterranean Short-toed Lark, Cream-coloured Courser and sandgrouse. Black-bellied Sandgrouse are certainly here and they visit the rivermouth in the early morning to drink but Crowned Sandgrouse and Spotted Sandgrouse may also be present.

Black-crowned Tchagra is common in scrubby and cultivated areas closer to the river and there are also Moustached Warbler, Cetti's Warbler and Savi's Warbler and Zitting Cisticola.


A large number of vagrants have been recorded at Oued Massa including species from North America such as Ring-necked Duck, American Wigeon and Green-winged Teal and Blue-winged Teal and sub-Saharan African birds including Lesser Flamingo and Western Reef Heron and one of the very few Western Palearctic records of Spur-winged Goose in 1984.


Birds you can see here include:

Little Grebe, Cory's Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Northern Gannet, Great Cormorant, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Glossy Ibis, Northern Bald Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Marbled Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Tufted Duck, Western Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Tawny Eagle, Booted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Osprey, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Barbary Falcon, Barbary Partridge, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Little Crake, Baillon's Crake, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Common Crane, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Stone-curlew, Cream-coloured Courser, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Arctic Skua, Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Feral Pigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, European Turtle Dove, Laughing Dove, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Little Owl, Plain Swift, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Common Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe, Eurasian Wryneck, Greater Short-toed Lark, Mediterranean Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Brown-throated Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Northern House Martin, Spanish Yellow Wagtail, Common Bulbul, Bluethroat, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Moussier's Redstart, European Stonechat, Western Black-eared Wheatear, (PM), Eurasian Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Cetti's Warbler, Savi's Warbler, Moustached Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Common Reed Warbler, Western Olivaceous Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Western Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Willow Warbler, Black-crowned Tchagra, Great Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Common Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, European Serin, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Linnet, House Bunting

Other Wildlife

Mammals that may be seen in the Oued Massa area include Algerian Hedgehog, Barbary Ground Squirrel, Egyptian Mongoose and African Wildcat. Egyptian Cobra has been reported from this area.

Site Information

Passage periods and winter are the most productive times to visit Oued Massa.

History and Use

To do

Areas of Interest

To the north of the rivermouth and village is the campsite of Sidi R'bat where refreshments and bungalow accommodation can be found as well as a bird log for the area.

Seawatching from here has produced Northern Gannet, shearwaters and skuas but some days are very quiet. Northern Bald Ibis have been reported flying along this coast to a roost somewhere to the north. Plain Swift may also occur along this stretch of coast.

Access and Facilities

Oued Massa lies within easy reach of Agadir to the north which has an international airport. Follow the main P30 coast road south from Agadir and turn off at Tiferhal following the Massa signpost. This road leads to the centre of the village and turning right at the T-junction leads to the reserve and on to the Sidi R'bat campsite.

Contact Details

To do

External Links

Content and images originally posted by Steve