Reading ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls in Morocco – January 2017

The coastal area of Morocco is an important wintering location for many Lesser Black-backed Gulls that breed in Europe.

It has been high on my list to visit for quite some time and in January I had the opportunity to accompany Jacob on a gull ring reading trip of 11 days.

We started off in Agadir where we spent a few days at Anza and Tamri. We then travelled north, visiting Essaouira, Safi and Oualidia along our way to El Jadida where we stayed a few days before returning to Agadir again via the same places.


Our aim was to read as many ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls as possible, especially those from the Netherlands. Because of my involvement in the ringing project at the colony of IJmuiden I was especially keen to come across some or ‘our’ birds.

I will give an impression of some of the places that we visited in this blog post, and will focus on the gulls that we saw in other posts.

Anza fish factory

One of the main locations that we visited was the fish factory at Anza, just north of Agadir. Because the discards are deposited into the sea, many thousands of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and small numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls, Black-headed Gulls and Mediteranean Gulls gather there.

This results in amazing scenes of enormous groups of gulls feeding on the fish waste and resting on the beach. Almost every European ringing project can be seen there.

Panorama view of the feeding gulls, click for a large image:




The beach at Tamri is most of the time desolated and free from visitors and therefore a popular spot for gulls to come and rest. A nearby lake is used for bathing.

We visited Tamri on sevaral occasions with various results. At one occasion the beach was occupied by beachgoers so no gulls were present. Most of the time though, large groups could be seen and many rings could be read.




The port of Essaouira is great place for observing Yellow-legged Gulls from up close. It is a place with many tourists though, and we only came across one ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull.


Me checking out the local Yellow-legged Gulls:



Our visits to the fish factory at Safi ended up somewhat disappointing. We visited it twice and only during our first visit were gulls present. They only showed themself briefly though, probably because the flow of fish waste is not constant (unlike the fish factory at Anza). Still, some important and exciting rings were read there.


The lagune at Oualidia is a popular resting place for large numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. It is a large area so a ring reading session can best be combined with a rising tide when the gulls are forced nearer to the shore by the upcoming water.

Distances can still be quite large but we were lucky to have perfect conditions and were able to read many rings.


El Jadida

Together with the fishing factory at Anza, El Jadida was my favorite spot for reading ringed gulls. If you ever want to visit Morocco for observing ringed gulls, make sure you visit El Jadida.

Due to the outlets for fresh water on the beaches, thousands of Lesser Black-backed Gulls can be seen there. A little further south, large groups gather at the intertidal zone when water levels are low.

Enourmous numbers of ringed gulls were present, especially in the morning and late afternoon.



It was my first visit to Morocco and really enjoyed it. When a next opportunity presents itself I will certainly go back there.

2 thoughts on “Reading ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls in Morocco – January 2017

  1. Maarten,
    Great to have descriptions & to see photos & videos of the sites you visited. Thanks again for spotting six of our LBBGUs colour-ringed in Scotland. You didn’t mention the El Jadida landfill site where you saw on of our birds.
    With kind regards,
    John Davies

    • Cheers John! It is great to be able to visit these places and see where ‘our’ gulls spend a lot of their time. It is also very rewarding to be able to contribute to projects like yours. We have received many interesting life histories already.
      All the best,

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