Por Gabriel Martínez del Marmol.
Looking for in his photos of Morocco, Gabri missed more photos of the northern areas, so he decided to visit Morocco between the days 16-20 april. At first some friends could maybe join Gabri, but finally he made a trip alone.
We recommend you to listen “the song of the trip” whereas you are reading the trip report!!
The day 16 he flew from Madrid to Tangier. It was late so he drove directly to the Riff mountains. In some wáter points he began to flip stones and find the first species: Natrix maura, Podarcis vaucheri, Psammodromus algirus, Timon tangitanus and Pelophylax saharicus.
When the sun dissapeared he could hear dozens of tree frogs calling (Hyla meridionalis) and observed 4 individuals of the endangered European terrapin (Emys orbicularis), a metamorfic north African fire salamander (Salamandra algira), a painted frog (Discoglossus scovazzi) and a worm lizard (Blanus tingitanus).
It was very late and he had to sleep in the car a few hours until the sun appear and he continued the trip through Targist. There he could observe a dark tree frog (Hyla meridionalis) and some Wall lizards (Podarcis vaucheri). He drove directly to the Saidia área.
The roads of the Riff are not totally good, full of curves and usually traffic. So he arrived to Saidia late. In a trash place he could find some amphisbaenian (Trogonophis wiegmanni wiegmanni), some turtles (Testudo graeca) and some Chafarinas skinks (Chalcides parallelus). Later he drove to Nador province, and he could find many Chalcides ocellatus, some Saurodactylus mauritanicus and 2 nice Montpellier snakes (Malpolon cf. monspessulanus). When he was taking photos, he could see in a bush a big Chamaeleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) sleeping. Later he drove to sleep in a hotel near Oujda.
In early morning he decided to make a short expedition to Beni Snassen mountains. In the road he found some Amietophrynus mauritanicus and a striped Psammophis schokari dead on road. In the highest parts of this mountain, he found a perfect place for amphibians (Salamandra algira spelaea, Discoglossus pictus) but he didn´t find adults or tadpoles, just a Psammodromus algirus and Tarentola mauritanica.
After some photos he drove to Nador province again. In a cultivated áreas, he could observe in a few space two skink species together: Chalcides ocellatus and Chalcides mauritanicus. Also some Eumeces algeriensis and 2 big Montpellier snakes (Malpolon cf. monspessulanus).
Later he drove to Guercif area. During the afternoon he could observe some Bufotes boulengeri, some Agama impalearis, some Chalcides ocellatus and at night he found a nice Eryx jaculus. Although he had seen 2 specimens in Israel, it was happy to find this species in Morocco. From Guercif he drove to Taza for sleeping.
Next day, he drove to Fes área. The first priority of the trip was the legendary Chalcides ebneri, but between Fes and Karia Ba Mohammed he just found a Mauremys leprosa in a side of a road, far of any wáter point. Nothing under stones so he decided to drive to the Riff again.
After 8 hours driving through bad roads in the Riff he visited a good place for mediterranean herps. He found some Podarcis vaucheri, Psammodromus algirus, Acanthodactylus erythrurus, Tarentola mauritanica, 2 Macroprotodon brevis and a nice Chalcides colosii. After some photos he drove to a hotel for sleeping. During these 8 hours driving, it´s interesting to write about Ketama. In this place, some guys (4 cars that day) tried to make Gabri stop. They run fast and stop the car in front of the tourist people to sell them drugs. Victor Gabari gave an advice to Gabri before the trip, so Gabri didn´t stop and avoid these people. Dangerous drivers in a roads full of curves. Bad moments in a country usually full of friendly people.
Last day he decided to drive to Kenitra. In a lagoon close to the beach he could find a glass lizard (Hyalosaurus koelikeri) and a Moroccan worm lizard (Trogonophis. w. elegans). Later he drove quickly to the airport, and return to Madrid.
4 days, 7 new species for Gabri. A very interesting trip. He missed Chalcides ebneri, Natrix natrix, Chalcides minutus, Chalcides pseudostriatus and Bufo bufo, so probably he will return to Morocco soon…
Special thanks to Serge Bogaerts and David Donaire for his help before the trip, and for Cornelius de Haan for his comments about the Malpolon specimens.