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Morocco, spring 2010 (April 19th to May, 11th)

part 4 - to Oukaimeden and from Marrakech to Ouarzazate

To Oukaimeden on the slopes of Mount Toubkal and from Marrakech acroos the High Atlas to Ouarzazate: Marrakech - Ait Ourir - Ait Barka - Tizi-n-Tichka - Ouarzazate
Sunday, April 25th, 2010
The goal for this day was the mountain village Oukaimeden in 2´650 m altitude, just north of the Jebel Toubkal (4´167 m), the highest mountain in north Africa. When we started in the morning in Marrakech, the weather was sunny and warm. But clouds came up very soon and in the early afternoon it began to rain (in Oukaimeden it was wet snowfall). So we have been happy to find some herps in the morning and early afternoon hours.
In the Ouirika valley at an altitude of about 1´600 meters asl. we could find Teira perspicillata, Timon tangitanus, Agama bibronii and Psammodromus algirus within half an hour between small cultivated fields, seminatural forests and large rocky parts.

the Ourika valley

landscape in the High Atlas mountains

Rocks in the Ourika valley (Richard Gemel)

Teira perspicillata

juvenile Timon tangitanus with a bit obscure pattern

juvenile Timon tangitanus with strong pattern

Psammodromus algirus female

adult Timon tangitanus

Timon tangitanus, Portrait
Up to Oukaimeden the weather changes dramatically, short before the village (about at 2´300 meters asl.) we dove into the deep hanging clouds. Along the road around 2´000 meters asl. we found Chalcides montanus, Podarcis vaucheri, Psammodromus and Quedenfeldtia trachyblepharus. Along the small creek close to the mountain village, one of the best places for the Atlas-Lizard Antlantolacerta andreanskyi should be. But it was much to could and snowy for this species. But Hannes, Franz, Richard K. and Christoph didn´t give up and searched during rain/snowfall. The result have been some Hyla meridionalis and a large Bufo bufo male.
On the way back to Marrakech we did a stop out of the mountains and Thomas found an Eumeces algeriensis again, Richard Gemel another Testudo gr. graeca.

habitat of Chalcides montanus, Psammodromus algirus, Podarcis vaucheri, Quedenfeldtia trachyblepharus

Podarcis vaucheri male

2 Quedenfeldtia trachyblepharus

Chalcides montanus

Chalcides montanus, Portrait

Quedenfeldtia trachyblepharus male

diving into the clouds
(Photo: Christoph Riegler)

short before Oukaimeden: deep in the clouds
(Photo: Christoph Riegler)

creek down the dam in Oukaimeden (Photo: Thomas Bader)

Hyla meridionalis in Oukaimeden (Photo: Thomas Bader)

Bufo spinosus in Oukaimeden (Photo: Thomas Bader)

villages on lower elevations in the High Atlas mountain ridge

near the plain of Marrakech
Monday, April 26th, 2010
Also on this day the weather conditions have been like the days before. In the morning sunshine, around noon thick clouds and moderate wind. But we´ve been now on the way to the south and hoped for a better weather south of the High Atlas mountain ridge.
First stop was at a small river near Ait Barka. While Richard Gemel, our tortoise and turtle Guru, Franz and I had a look to the Mauremys, the others prefered to have a look to other herps in the bushes and edges of fields along the river. They found Chalcides polylepis, Hyla meridionalis and a snake running away, probably Psammophis schokari. But also we three have been successfull. The river and some ditches beside have been full with Mauremys leprosa. We catched about 10 young to semiadult individuals and made pictures of the Carapax, the Plastron and from the front. Turtles from this area have been described by SCHLEICH as Mauremys leprosa marokkensis, based on Plastron colour and painting of the forelimbs. But our ten turtles showed a wide variation in these diagnostic features, and we are sure, this ssp. is not a valid one. FRITZ et al. showed that not the Strait of Gibraltar, but the High Atlas mountain ridge is the division in Mauremys leprosa ssp..

Ait Barka: river

pond close to the river

Mauremys leprosa

Mauremys leprosa

Mauremys leprosa

Mauremys leprosa

Mauremys leprosa

Mauremys leprosa
Beside the turtles we found also many Bufo mauritanicus, even one copulating pair.
In Bufo mauritanicus the females have a much more contrasting painting in comparition to the males."

Bufo mauritanicus male

Bufo mauritanicus female

Bufo mauritanicus, pair

Mauremys leprosa hatchling

along the road up to the Tizi-n-Tichka: in the far background the plain at Marrakech

mountain village (about 2´000 m asl.)

near the gap

Near the Tizi-n-Tichka (2´260 m asl.), the bent in the High Atlas mountain ridge on the road from Marrakech to Ourarzazate, we searched along a small creek and on the rocky alpine meadows beside. Under stones, half in the water, we found some Discoglossus (pictus) scovazzi and - unfortunately - all lizards found have been Podarcis vaucheri and not one Atlantolacerta andreanskyi.
In a small restaurant/hotel in Agouim we could have some beers in a shady garden - not no easy in Morocco!
At around 5 p.m. we reached Ouarzazate."

small creek near the gap

Discoglossus (pictus) scovazzi

Discoglossus (pictus) scovazzi

Podarcis vaucheri male

Podarcis vaucheri female

on the southern slopes of the High Atlas, green occurs only along creeks and rivers

Kasba in Ouarzazate

Tarentola mauritanica in Hotel

  part 1 - Introduction: Topography, climate, zoogeography
part 2 -from Ceuta to Beni Mellal
part 3 - from Beni to Marrakech
You are here:
part 4 - to Oukaimeden and from Marrakech to Ouarzazate
  part 5 - around Ouarzazate
  part 6 - from the Hammada(Ouarzazate) through the Reg(Tineghir) to the Erg(Merzouga)
  part 7 - in and around the sand dunes (Merzouga and adjected areas)
  part 8 - From Merzouga to Taroudant in the Souss valley
  part 9 - western part of the Souss valley and south to the Tiznit area
  part 10 - home along the Atlantic coast, list of observed Amphibians, reptiles and birds