Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Tulmaythah (Ptolemais)

crested lark - Tolmaythah coast - mid June

On Friday 12th I went to the Tolmaythah area (Ptolemais) area. While my friends spent most of the day on the beach I travelled around bird watching. I really don't understand the attraction of sitting on a pile of sand for hours on end and occasionally dowsing yourself in salty water!

The secuded beach is on the narrow coastal plain, north east of Benghazi. The plain gets narrower and narrower as you go futher north east. Much of it is characterised by classic garrigue. There is an order of magnitude more natural garrigue here than in Tripolitania. In cooler conditions I look forward to a thorough search of this area.

Sadly it was another hot day. This seriously reduces bird activity in this part of the world. Near the beach the most obvious birds were house sparrow (near buildings) and crested lark on the less scrubby ground. Among one group of sparrows on a wire were two young linnet. Near or in coastal gorse and other garrigue is, of course, a natural place to see them.

I could hear that the scrub contained sardinian warbler. Indeed most of the garrigue along the coast for several kilometres seems to contain this bird. In the heat it was elusive and I only have one poor photograph at this stage.

sardinian warbler - garrigue in coastal plain near Tolymaythah - mid June

It was a pleasant surprise to see a flock of white stork in the air here. These were almost certainly part of the colony at Al Marj out on a day trip, 30 kilometres or so to the west of their base.

Other common birds along the coast are barn swallow and hoopoe. The only bird of prey I saw this time was a kestrel.

As I said in my last blog I want to comment more on the great grey shrike and desert grey shrike found commonly in this area and south to Benghazi.

In the city of Benghazi I have only seen a dark great grey shrike which seems to be aucheri. In the countryside there appears to be about 50% desert grey shrike elegans, 35 % great grey shrike aucheri and the rest look intermediate. Below is a picture of an elegans taken near Tolmaythah

desert grey shrike near Tolmaythah- June 12th

Note the white over the eye and the overall light appearance. However even this bird is slightly darker than some elegans in Tripolitania. In the next blog I will show a possible aucheri in Benghazi. In the past, books have said that aucheri does not extend much further west than the Red Sea but I understand that now some top experts have some similar ideas to me on a probable more westernly distribution.

For a short time, I ventured up into the closest hills (250 metres altitude) near Tolmaythah. The cross section of birds was similar to the caostal plain below though woodchat shrike was also quite common there.

woodchat shrike - in the hills near Tolmaythah - June 12th

This bird is clearly more widespread in Cyrenaica than in Tripolitania.

Finally I want to comment on doves. I saw plenty of pigeon, turtle dove and laughing dove in the Tolmaythah area. I got my first half decent photo of a turtle dove here to evidence their presence. When I first arrived in north east Libya I doubted their widespread presence because they don't seem to be in the immediate Benghazi area. Like most bird watching further observation brought better clarity. Here's to more observations!

turtle dove -near Tolmaythah - June 12th

No comments:

Post a Comment