Sunday, 13 June 2010

Al Thane, Benghazi

breeding little tern on an island in "big lake" Al Thane, Benghazi - late May

Towards the north east of Benghazi about 2 kilometres south of the coastal corniche road is Al Thane. It is two lakes. Like many places in Benghazi it seems to go by several names. In the best selling but old map the complex is just referred to as "big lake" and "little" lake.

I made a short trip there on May 29th. When I arrived there I was more than a little depressed. All the surrounding vegetation has been removed by diggers. It had been a lush wetland.

However a birder who is also a ministry employee told me a few days later that the situation is actually more complicated. Although the surrounding vegetation has been removed, the wetland had been badly polluted with fly tipping of household and other waste. The new landscaping would provide man made islands which will be great for birds.

So on reflection a more balanced view is that the habitat may have radically changed but there will probably be winners and losers among the bird species.

A narrow causeway allows access to the largest of the man made islands. Here I saw three breeding bird species. These were little tern, black winged stilt and kentish plover. The island had large colonies of the first two birds. Several juvenile kentish plover were seen along with a few little tern chicks.

juvenile kentish plover on an island in "big lake" , Al Thane, Benghazi - late May

male black winged stilt on an island in "big lake", Al Thane, Benghazi - late May
There were two other birds of note at Al Thane. There were several coot on the water. Its almostly certainly too late for this bird to be on passage. I can safely say coot must be a summer resident in Libya although I didn't see any young.

coot in "big lake", Al Thane, Benghazi - late May

I am less certain whether the little egret I saw are also resident. It is still possible that these birds were on passage as they return to Europe later than coot.

little egret, "big lake" Al Thane, Benghazi - late May

June should be quite a revealing time over whether some of birds I have seen are summer residents or passage birds.

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