Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Garabolli in Spring

female spectacled warbler on future railway line near Garabolli park

On Saturday 24th April, Ibrahim and I visited Garabolli again. Garabolli is a national park on the coast about 45 kilometres east of Tripoli. We visited the western side near the month of Wadi Ramel.

I normally bird watch on Fridays but Friday 23rd was exceptional hot so we switched days to a much cooler Saturday.

As we approached the park we decided to stop and walk a small section of the future railway line which crosses the road. We immediately saw many different birds - eurasian bee-eater in the air and on wires, sardinian warbler in the bushes, desert grey shrike on also on wires, yellow wagtail in the greener fields and even one or two remaining passage nightingale in the understory next to trees.

But our attention was caught by birds flitting on and off a mulberry bush. Mulberry has berries at the moment and were attracting several different birds. It took me some time to identify a female and male spectacled warbler who were the most frequent visitors (see picture at the top of the blog for the female). I still struggle to quickly identify female warblers! As soon as the male came along it all fitted into place. Both have a rufous side to their wings, yellow- pink legs and spectacles. The male's spectacles look a bit 1980s.

male spectacled warbler on a mulberry bush, near Garabolli- late April
Its a bit ironic really but while we were watching the tree a golden oriole flew over. Reports we have received from collegues and ibrahim's family tell us it's been very common this year on passage. And its favourite landing place is a mulberry bush!

Having solved the identification problem, we moved into the park. More spanish sparrrow, sardinian warbler, hoopoe, serin and fulvous babbler as always there. Rock dove was also seen.

Apart from the residents just named there were plenty of passage birds too. Whinchat were everyway - chockablock. A few tree pipit were lingering in the more shaded places.

Whinchat at Garabolli - late April

There were also several wood warbler and a few late willow warbler also on passage. I chased one round a field to get a good photo. Its below.

Wood warbler- Garabolli- late April

There was one other important passage bird we saw. It was a white stork up in the canopy of a tree in the distance. Not all white storks cross into Europe via the straits of Gibraltar or across the Bosporus. It is known that a lesser number fly though Libya and fly on to southern Italy (oftren via Sicily). the crossing is relatively short. My visitor Paul Bowden in February saw three white stork as he boarded his plane back to the UK. Both his encounter and mine were right on the known route.

We finally reached the wadi valley which was lush with reeds and well shaded. However there was no surface level water except vey close to the sea. In this area I was pleased to see woodchat shrike showing breeding behaviour. And of course there were the resident reed warbler.

We could see the attraction of this area to bee-eater on the far side of the wadi. The fields have many bee hives and there are plenty of sandy banks for bee-eater nests. African honey bees are notoriously aggressive so we were a bit apprenhensive about staying too long near them.

Finally two other local birds were seen. We had a brief glimpse of a stone curlew which we had seen at Garabolli on previous visits and also a pair of linnet who are almost certainly a breeding pair.

All in all a sucessful and cool! day.

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