Morocco 3rd to 9th of June 2012- Inland birding

We had already early in spring decided to start a week summer holiday right away when Hanna’s school work ends on the 2nd of June. On the previous evening we had packed everything ready and then at midday when Hanna was free, I was already waiting with luggage outside the school.

On the way to Helsinki we stopped only a couple of times in Lappeenranta but we didn’t see anything special. We ate well near the Helsinki-Vantaa airport and at 4:20 p.m. we parked our car at the furthermost parking place and walked to the terminal. Luckily we had made the check in already by internet so soon we were waiting for our flight.

Finally at 6:20 p.m. our flight left to Frankfurt and 7:55 p.m. local time we landed. We had a long walk to the right terminal but we still had a long wait for the next flight. When the boarding started our good old friend Paul French also arrived, his flight from Birmingham had left late but it had luckily managed to win time and had landed on schedule.

Luckily we got seats next to each others and at 10 p.m. we left towards Morocco and Casablanca. We planned our trip a little bit but as it was already our second and Paul’s third trip to Morocco, we didn’t need to plan too much. So we managed to sleep an hour or two in the end. Finally we landed to Casablanca airport at 00:30 a.m. local time. Once again we had to wait for our luggage for eternity, so when my and Paul’s luggage had come, we had to leave Hanna to wait for hers and rush to the Sixt car rental office. There was nobody in anymore but there was a sign with a phone number. Luckily some man helped us and rang the number and told us that someone was coming soon. And soon the same officer that had rented us a car on our previous trip arrived. He had started working at 5 a.m. in the morning and he was still working! Anyway we got our car soon and after we had changed our Euros to Dirhams the officer soon came with our car to the parking place.

We headed towards south. It was of course very dark but on the way we saw a couple of Little Owls. After a couple of hours driving we finally parked. We had decided to start our trip with the most important target of our trip – Small Buttonquail! I had got good instructions how to find this, maybe the most secretive species in Western Palearctic, as my good friends had managed to find an actively calling bird some weeks earlier. They had told me not to tell the place to anyone so I can’t tell anything more than there had been a great article in Dutch Birding about this species and by using this article which say there is plenty of good biotope on the coastal strip south from El Jadida and with all information that can be found in the internet my friends had managed to locate this bird. Anyway we still had a couple of times before the sunset so we decided to try to sleep in a car.

We woke up just before the sunset and soon we saw what kind of place we were in. There were fields around us and there were different kind of crops growing. We heard Black-winged Stilts calling distant and some Collared Pratincoles were flying over us. Before 7 a.m. it was light enough to start working! We started to walk along the small field road and we stopped every 50 metres to listen. We walked for some time when we heard 10 to 12 calls series of low blows that weren’t exactly what we had been waiting for but were very close. The calls were just a little bit too high and they got higher and higher towards the end of the series. We wanted desperately to hear it again but we heard only a couple of single or double calls and we weren’t sure what we were listening to! Distant cows, donkeys and even trucks were disturbing as they sounded very similar. Anyway we decided to spend more time in this place and so we walked around this alfalfa field carefully and checked if we could find any marks from the ground and soon we found several mint-green droppings and some tracks – yes there was a Small Buttonquail nearby! But all we found were Quail that were calling and some were flushed from the tracks. Of course we didn’t walk in the fields at all and it seemed to be ok to stay on the tracks and walk on the edges of the fields as there were plenty of locals working on the fields and they didn’t care about us at all.

After all we decided to walk further and after some walking Hanna called me and Paul to where she was. And then we heard it – amazing low and deep series of again 10 to 12 calls! But now the bird was active and after about 2 minutes it called again and then again… We managed to locate the caller to a pumpkin and pepper field and after some listening and recording, we decided to surround the bird from the corners of the field. The call was possible to hear only from 30 metres or so, so we carefully walked around it so we could have a possibility to see it too. But then it suddenly started to call from the other corner of the field. It had moved only 10 metres but already it was difficult to hear! But then Hanna saw another bird moving from pepper-line to another and we managed to follow it some time and Hanna and Paul managed to get a couple of pictures too! It must have been a male of the couple as we think it was not that colourful to be a t female. And meanwhile the female was still calling all the time!

We were extremely happy now! Our trip had got an amazing start as we had already got our target species number one! We checked the recordings and pictures and Hanna told she had still heard very weakly also the bird we had first heard. So it seemed there were 2 calling females and a male around – at least.

It was only a little bit more than 9 a.m. when we left to continue in our (too) optimistic plan and started a long way to Tamri. Paul had Bald Ibis missing on his list so we had decided to go there if we can get Small Buttonquail easily. Tamri was far out from our rest of the targets but now we had extra time so why not to go?

On the way we saw a couple of Cream-coloured Courser in highlands, a Rufous Bush Chat flying over the road and a couple of Eleonora’s Falcons flying in the sky. Our only stop was made along the river near Talmest and there we found an adult and young Moroccan Wagtail. Of course we got plenty of other trip-ticks too. Finally the views started to look familiar and we arrived at Tamri.

But the Bald Ibises weren’t found! We checked all the fields and visited Tamri river-delta where an Auduoin’s Gull was seen in a flock of many Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. We still waited and waited for a couple of hours for these ugly black birds to come any time but they never did! So after all we started to drive towards Agadir. On the way we seawatched for an hour in Cap Rhir where only Cory’s Shearwater and Gannets were seen. But before it was getting dark Paul started driving and we continued to Agadir and then around the city heading inland.

We drove until the beginning of Tizi-n-Test mountain road and there we found a perfect place to go to sleep in a woody area. Hanna and Paul took their mattresses and went out and I decided to sleep on the car’s back-seat.

On the 4th of June we woke up before 6 a.m. and we had been sleeping surprisingly well. Immediately we heard whistling of Black-crowned Tchagras so soon Hanna and Paul left with their cameras to find them. Unfortunately Paul left with the car-key and the doors were open, so I had to stay close to the car.

After an hour or so Hanna came back without any pictures of Tchagras but luckily Paul had found them and managed to get some kind of pictures too. He had also got another wp-tick as he had seen a Western Olivaceous Warbler too. When I still found a Western Orphean Warbler almost next to our car, it was already the third lifer for Paul in an hour so he wasn’t sad about the Bald Ibises anymore. While still several Tchagras were whistling in the bushes nearby, we continued our drive towards the mountains along the Tizi-n-Test.

The Tizi-n-Test mountain road was very nice and there was almost no traffic at all and lots of places where to stop. So we stopped several times and found a couple of singing Western Olivaceous Warblers, Nightingales and lots of Rock Buntings, a flock of 7 Barbary Partridges, a Booted Eagle, a Goshawk and a Roller.

Finally we turned towards Imli and in the end of the road we had a nice view to the highest peak of Northern Afrika, Jbel Toukal. We tried to see a White-rumped Swift but saw only a couple of Little Swifts and a huge flock of Alpine Choughs.

We continued towards Oukameïden and stopped again in the forests and heard Firecrests and some other forest species. In Asni we turned to the same mountain track we had been driving on our previous trip. Right after the village we stopped and walked to the junipers and found immediately an active Tristram’s Warbler. We got nice pictures of this bird and soon continued towards Oukameïden.

Around the ski lodges in the village we found flocks of Rock Sparrows and a family of 4 Levaillant’s Green Woodpeckers were feeding on the grass so we managed to get some nice pictures.

Close to the skiing elevators we found more Rock Sparrows and soon also first couple of Seebohm’s Wheatears. While photographing them we found one African Crimson-winged Finch that was with a flock of Rock Sparrows. Unfortunately it flew immediately higher towards the mountains. Later I saw another African Crimson-winged finch which also disappeared soon so we had to be happy with Seebohm’s Wheatear photographs.

We ate a Tajine in a restaurant and then continued towards Marrakesh. Soon we turned to Tizi-n-Tichka mountain road which we had been driving earlier and Paul even twice before. So it didn’t matter it was already getting dark – we all remembered that the road wasn’t even close that nice as Tizi-n-Test was. We climbed up to the mountains slowly because of there was lots of lorries. Finally the downhill was faster, and about at midnight we stopped along one small road and went to sleep in a dry wadi.

On the 5th of June we woke up early and again after 6 a.m. we were driving. We drove straight through Ouarzazate and there we found big fields where we parked our car. We walked into the fields and soon found the first Crested Larks which looked normal but soon we found the first Maghreb Larks. They looked different, not only because of their long bills but also otherwise. They were easy to photograph and on the same bushes there were also Rufous Bush Chats. After we had photographed also House Buntings we continued to the lake shore nearby.

From the shore we found big flocks of Ruddy Shelducks and Marbled Teals. A lonely Purple Heron was standing on the reeds and a Saharan Olivaceous Warbler was singing. After the city we saw some Blue-cheecek Bee-eaters.

We continued through Boumalne Dades and then turned on to the famous Tagdilt track. It was a small sandy and stony track which soon seemed to be too bad for our car which had a surprisingly low bottom because of a steel protecting the engine was huge and too low. Anyway we kept on going and soon found first couple of Thick-billed Larks (altogether 8) and Temminck’s Horned Larks (20), latter had also fledglings. Somehow we managed to get pretty far to the desert but then the road became too rocky to continue. So we walked a couple of kilometres and found Red-rumped and Desert Wheatears, Desert and Bar-tailed Desert Larks and a Hoopoe Lark and so on.

We had tried to follow my gps until a couple of points where a Maghreb Wheatear had been seen, but it was impossible. Actually we realized that we had been very close to the wall which wasn’t a mountain wall but an old building wall, but we decided to try to drive there using other roads. So we drove back to the main road and then turned towards Iknouien and then took another sand-track towards the wall. Surprisingly we managed to drive until the wall but there weren’t any wheatears, but a nice flock of 35 Black-bellied Sandgrouses and some Short-toed Larks.

Then we had a next project – between Boulmane Dades and next town Tinerhir there had been the most records of Maghreb Wheatear recently. The first good spot was a big man-made wall along the road but there were only a family of Desert Wheatears and some Trumpeter Finches. Soon we had a couple of Long-legged Buzzards and then found a good looking cliff where we had to walk some hundreds of metres from the road. Immediately we found lots of shit and pellets of a big bird – Desert Eagle Owl. I kept on searching for wheatears but Paul climbed to the highest point and started to scan the walls with his telescope. Soon he found it – a stunning Desert Eagle Owl was perched on a hole on the opposite side of the valley.

After we had been watching this stunning owl for some time we decided to continue. We continued towards Tinerhir and tried to check all wheatears on the way but saw only Desert, Black and White-crowned Black Wheatears. Our last tips were to a beautiful valley where we needed to turn from the main road. Right away when I had got out from the car I saw a small grey wheatear flying towards the top of the cliffs. It landed behind a huge rock but we never saw it again. It was almost sure a female Maghreb Wheatear. We waited and scanned the cliffs but found only Desert Larks, Black Wheatears and another Desert Eagle Owl! This owl was much closer so we managed o get nice pictures! We continued walking along the valley for a long time and finally we decided to give up. Right then we saw a black and white wheatear flying over us and disappearing to the top of the cliff – there it was a Maghreb Wheatear. But still Paul and I saw it only very briefly and Hanna missed it completely. I also started to think that maybe I hadn’t seen it well enough.

The sky was getting very stormy and we saw lots of lightning. So we decided to drive to Tinerhir where we found a comfortable hotel where we got a nice room. It was great to have a shower and go to sleep to a bed. Also our batteries needed charging.

On the 6th of June we woke up at 6 a.m. after a hot night – we were already used to sleep out! Soon we were driving towards the same valley where we had been on previous evening. We had been driving only some kilometres towards Boumalne Dades when I saw a wheatear on the top of a bush and I asked Paul to stop and drive backwards. And there it was – a male Maghreb Wheatear was perched still on the top of the bush. We put our scopes up and managed to see it a couple of seconds before it flew down to some kind of ditch and disappeared. We walked after it but never found it again! So we didn’t get any pictures of this species but after all we were happy to see one well.

We were happy to continue towards west. In Tinerhir we stopped in a bakery where we got an amazing good breakfast. After some driving we turned towards Goulmima and soon after the town we stopped to a place where we had another gps-point. In this small bushy area we walked towards longer bushes and after some hundreds of metres walking we found the first Scrub Warbler. Soon we found at least 6 birds more and also a Fulvous Babbler was seen briefly. We also heard a Spotted Sandgrouse flying over us.

In Ar-Rachidia we turned towards south and soon the landscape started to look more like Africa with palm-trees. In Rissani we visited a fossil museum where we had a nice guided tour and where Hanna managed to buy some souvenirs and teaching material.

Soon we were south enough to see big Erg Chebbi sand-dunes and we turned onto the small Café Yasmina track which was in bad condition. The weather was extremely hot (even +45 degrees) but anyway we stopped a couple of times to walk to the desert. The sand was burning hot and the wind was very strong – so there was lots of sand in the air! We saw dust-devils all around us and one even hit us when we were walking. Not many birds were found – one of us saw a Hoopoe Lark, one saw two ants and one got only sand to his eyes!

After hot walking we drove the last kilometres to Café Yasmina where we ordered cold Coca Colas. After some relaxing we walked to see the nest-box of a Desert Sparrow and there it was hanging in a tamarisk and an adult bird was perched next to it. We still walked around a while and Paul managed to see a Saharan Olivaceous Warbler shortly.

After we had photographed the dunes, we decided to keep on going – we still had time and we wanted to visit as many places as possible to save time for the next days. So we drove back to the main road and turned towards Merzouga. Soon we turned towards Dayet Srji which had been a big lake in spring because of the good rains, but now it was just a small U-shaped lake. Right away we found a big flock of Flamingos but some stupid guy was driving too close to them with his 4-wheel-drive. So he flushed the flock and it flew to the other end of the lake. After we had seen all the Ruddy Shelducks, Marbled Teals and so on, we continued to the other side of the lake and found the Flamingos again. Unfortunately a Lesser Flamingo that had been seen a month earlier wasn’t in the flock anymore, there were now 233 Flamingos which was more than a half less than then.

We checked the rest of the lake carefully and found Ferruginous Ducks, a Pochard, a small looking Grey Plover, Little Ringed Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Little Stints and a couple of Crowned Sandgrouses flew over us. Some Saharan Olivaceous Warblers were singing in the tamarisks but still we didn’t get any pictures of them.

The sun was setting down when we drove to Merzouga. With our Lonely Planet guide we found a nice Chez Julia hotel and got a beautiful room. After we had tea with the keeper of the hotel we went to a Berber shop nearby. After a nice demonstration showing how the Berber carpets have been made, we soon found out that we were going to buy one. And it wasn’t an easy buy! It took a long time to find the price that kept also the seller happy, so after all we lost 200€, some of our clothes, Hanna’s watch, pain-killers and a promise that we will advertise the shop – but a very beautiful yellow antique-carpet was ours!

Finally at 10 p.m. we managed to go to eat to a roof of our hotel and it was already midnight when we got to sleep.

On the 7th of June we woke up before 6 a.m. again and after a little bit slowly morning we were driving towards Café Yasmina at 7 a.m. We drove again until a sign 9km to Café Yasmina and parked our car and started to walk in a desert where was some small vegetation. Luckily now it was almost no wind at all and cooler, maybe 25 degrees. Soon we found out that it has been a good idea to go to hotel and not to sleep in the desert – the sand was full of different kind of footprints.

Soon we found the first singing African Desert Warbler and in a 3 kilometres walk we found altogether 6 of them. But still the only lark we found was a Hoopoe Lark.

We were already back to our car and planning to continue to walk to the other way from car, when we saw a lark running in front of us. There it finally was – an African Dunn’s Lark – the only species we had missed on our trip to Western Sahara! The lark was walking slowly behind the bushes and we of course tried to get closer to get some pictures. Once it flew further but we luckily found it again. And then it started to co-operate – I was walking around the bird and pushed it gently towards the photographers and the result was that soon it was feeding almost between Hanna and Paul! So we really got a good view to this extremely rare bird that had been found first time on Western Palearctic not may years earlier. Also an African Desert Warbler came to jump to the bushes in front of us, so the cameras were really singing.

Finally we were happy to continue. We realised that we were already ahead of our optimistic schedule, but we still had several projects to do. And you never know when some project takes more time than expected? But now our next project was something else – Hanna wanted to spend some time finding fossils. So we drove to a place which looked perfect for finding them and started to walk around and up and down the hillside. After some time we continued to one fossil digging place where we met a local that promised to tell us a good place to find fossils and surprise, he told us exactly the same place where we had already been, but we just had to go up to the hill and to brake the solid rock. That’s why Hanna rent a hammer from him.

So Hanna worked an hour or so in very hot weather but unfortunately the place seemed to have been dug too well already. Of course she found lots of fossils but maybe not the perfect example that she wanted?

But we still had a long way to drive. On the palm-tree area we saw some Laughing Doves. We drove until Zeida where we were, after having a dinner in a town nearby, a couple of hours before the sunset. So after a short relaxing, we started to walk around the vegetated area. We had only a half an hour left before the sunset but soon we found some singing Red-rumped and Desert Wheatears, Mediterranean Short-toed Larks but still not the species we were looking for. We were again almost back to our car when we saw a lark running in front of us and there it was – a Dupont’s Lark! Soon we found out that there were 3 birds altogether, an adult with 2 young. These birds were really running fast and hiding well but even though it was getting dark already, Hanna and Paul managed to get some pictures of them.

Soon we realized that the sky was getting very dark and there was several storm-clouds lightning again. So we decided not to stay overnight in this place, we had already seen Dupont’s Larks and they had already fledglings so maybe they wouldn’t have been singing anymore early in the morning. So we decided to keep on winning time and drive to our next target place.

We still had a couple of hours to drive close to Azrou to Foret de Cedres forest area. But finally we parked to a small forest road and soon Paul and Hanna were out with their mattresses and I was again sleeping in the car. We planned to wake up when the birds start to sing.

On the 8th of July I woke up when a flycatcher was singing. It was just like a Pied Flycatcher’s song but shorter – and of course I knew immediately it wasn’t a Pied Flycatcher but a lifer – an Atlas Flycatcher! The bird moved further soon and we couldn’t hear it anymore but soon we were all up and walking in this beautiful forest. There were lots of birds singing and flying around. Mistle Thrushes, Nuthatches, African Blue, Great and Coal Tits, Hawfinches and so on and soon we realized that there were Atlas Flycatchers singing all around us. It took a long time to find one so we could see it well as these birds were moving a lot. In a deep forest they seemed to be impossible to photograph. While I was taking some recordings I realized that my microphone cable was broken, but luckily I remembered that I can take recording with its own microphone too – and the quality really surprised me! While I was taking one more recording I saw a Western Bonelli’s Warbler shortly but unfortunately it disappeared before Hanna saw it. It would have been a lifer for her. A Hobby was flying around and calling and we really enjoyed walking in this forest.

We still hoped to get some pictures of the flycatchers so we drove to the edge of the forest where was lower vegetation. And soon we found more Atlas Flycatchers and photographers finally managed to get some good pictures. Luckily we heard also a Western Bonelli’s Warbler singing and Hanna got her lifer. Also a Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker was calling and we found a nest of a Great Spotted Woodpecker too. We were very happy – with Hanna we had seen all of our wanted bird-species in Morocco now.

We were already leaving when I saw a small dog walking towards me. I was going to scratch it and turned towards it and watched it – it had the face of a human! It wasn’t a do but a Barbary Macaque! Of course we knew that there were monkeys in Morocco but we had forgotten it totally. This monkey looked like it was going to walk into our car, but then turned away and walked to a field to eat crops. Soon another smaller macaque came to climb to the trees nearby and of course we took lots of pictures!

Next we continued to Ifrane where on the highland we saw some Eleonora’s Falcons, Lesser Kestrels, a couple of Seebohm’s Wheatears, Rock Sparrows and so on. We continued to Dayet Aoua which was amazing lake! It was completely full of Crested Coots and Black-necked Grebes!
Luckily we didn’t have to count them, but still Paul counted 103 Black-necked Grebe nests close to each others! And all the pairs had 3 or 4 young! And Crested Coot was even more common. Also some Shovelers and Gadwalls were seen and a couple of Golden Orioles seen and heard. We still drove to Dayet Ifrahi where we saw again amazing number of coots before we realized we were absolutely too tired to do anything anymore. So we drove back to Foret de Cedres to sleep.

After a couple of hours sleep we started to drive towards Rabat. In the fields that were along the motorway we saw lots of Swifts with some Pallid Swifts, a couple of Little Swifts, at least 1 Alpine Swift and I saw briefly a White-rumped Swift that was very close but disappeared into the huge flock of other swifts when I tried to point it to Hanna and Paul. Unfortunately the place was impossible to stop because of the heavy traffic. Later we still saw a single Calandra Lark seen flying over the road. When we had driven around Rabat we tried to find a right turn towards town Sidi Yahya but of course there were no signs at all. So we ended up driving along tiny village roads and after some U-turns and many roads that seemed not to go anywhere we finally found ourselves from Sidi Yahya. From there we managed to find a road towards Sidi Bettache and then it was an easy drive to familiar small road about 17 kilometres before Sidi Bettache where we parked. We still listened for a while if there was anything calling and heard once a Double-spurred Francolin, but it was a species that Paul needed so we had to see it too. So we went to sleep and hoped to see it in the next morning.

On the 9th of June I woke up already at 5 a.m. when a Nightjar came to sing just 3 metres from the car. Soon it woke up also Hanna and Paul and we started to listen to other calls, but it was still very quiet. After 6 a.m. we heard a couple of series of calls of a Double Spurred Francolin but then finally one was calling very close to us. We thought it might be the same bird we had heard and seen on our previous visit, so we tried to fool it again. We played its own call from mp3-player but it didn’t help. Maybe it wasn’t that active anymore this time of the year? It called once in every fifth minute and came closer and closer but still we couldn’t see it. Then finally it flushed and flight just 1.5 metres over Hanna that was standing in a different place than me and Paul, but we saw it well too. So our last wp-tick project had been successful!

We still walked for an hour in the area and heard at least 8 Double-spurred Francolins but none of them was really active. Also 3 Black-crowned Tchagras were whistling in the bushes but no photographs were got.

Next we checked the small pools where we had found a Ring-necked Duck on our previous trip, but there were only lots of Mallards and 2 female Red-crested Pochards. Then we continued close to Ben Slimane to another place which was good for Double-spurred Francolines but even though we walked there for some time we didn’t find any. Maybe the time of the day was wrong, or actually we weren’t sure if the place was right after all. Anyway a couple of Little Owls were found.

We still had lots of time so we decided to drive to Lac Sidi Bourhaba where we could stay the rest of the day photographing and for sure we would get at least some trip-ticks. Unfortunately we didn’t find the easy road so we had to drive through Rabat city centre. Well at least we saw some action – a man was thrown out from the bus and a big fight started. Then the same man decided to stop the bus and lay down in the road in the middle of the city!

Before Kenitra we found the correct road which turned towards the lake and soon we stopped to the first lake shore. At first we found only Flamingos and some Crested Coots but on the second stop we found the first White-headed Ducks too. Then we continued to the other side of the lake where was a picnic place full of locals. While parking I managed to ruin my day – I had already managed to drive thousands of kilometres in Morocco without any problems – no accidents or fines, but now I hit a tree! A car got some damage and I knew immediately the reason this accident had happened was that I was just too tired. So I went to sleep in the car while Hanna and Paul started to explore the lake shores.

When I woke up Hanna and Paul had got an offer to join locals to have something to eat. So I also ate something before going out to see what was going on. 3 Eleonora’s Falcons were flying over us and Hanna and Paul got nice pictures. But otherwise it was very quiet, so we decided to delete pictures, make some notes and just wait for the evening when the birds would be more active again.

In the evening all the birds started to be more active and when most of the locals were gone, we started to enjoy Lac Sidi Bourhaba! White-headed Ducks started to chase each others, Purple Swamp-hens were calling and one of them was walking very close to us. A female Red-crested Pochard with her 2 chicks and soon also a Marbled Teal with her 14 chicks came to swim very close to us. 8 Spoonbills were seen flying over us and Cetti’s Warblers started to sing in the reeds.

We packed our luggage and cleaned the car and waited for the sun to set. When it started to get dark, we walked to the causeway at the north end and started to wait. Eleonora’s Falcons and Hobbies were still hunting but Marsh Harriers and Black Kites had already gone. Some Night Herons started to fly around but we still needed to wait for a half an hour before we found it – a Marsh Owl was flying over the reedbed and then landed in the reeds. There was still some light but the situation was to brief to get any pictures. Then we realized that a call that we had already heard earlier from the reeds was indeed a young Marsh Owl begging for food. It was completely dark when we saw the owl again, this time it flew over us calling and Hanna managed to get a couple of bad pictures of it.

At 10 p.m. we left towards Kenitra and somehow managed to find the right road for the motorway (of course there were no signs). It was a surprisingly long drive to Casablanca and Mohammed V airport and finally we were there at 11:45 p.m. I returned the car and explained what had happened so I just need to wait and see what I need to pay later. Last time we got only 40€ bill when some thief had broken one of the car windows. I think now I will have to pay more.

After1.5 hours wait our flight left for Frankfurt where we landed after 3 hours sleeping. There we said goodbye to Paul who was already in a hurry to his Birmingham flight. We had a couple of hours time to walk around in the shops and wait for our flight to Helsinki. Finally our flight left at 10 a.m. local time.

At 1:35 p.m. we landed at Helsinki-Vantaa airport and after we had got our luggage, we took a free bus to our parking place. Then I dropped Hanna to Tikkurila train-station because Hanna was going to stay in Helsinki for a couple of days. She was going to stay in Kirkkonummi with my parents. I had a 4 hours drive to Parikkala where I finally got home at 6 p.m. I was very tired but anyway I went straight to play football and the rest of the evening was spent by watching Eurocup football matches. There is time to sleep in winter…

J.A. (Paul helped with English)