Thursday, 9 September 2010

Rain in the desert

I like to keep an eye on the weather forecast in Libya for several reasons. 

First, I want to decide if it's good birding weather. This means cooler days in the summer and missing Ghiblis (hot sandy winds from the south) particularly in autumn. 

The second reason is I check whether it is good for birds. I like it to rain in spring and autumn because this seems to encourage several species of passage birds to stay longer. One example is the Nightingale. It moves on in spring only when it gets too hot and dry.

Well, I am at the virtual end of my holiday (and grounded at my home in Bulgaria)  and I can only look at Libya from afar till next week. It's a bit frustrating. I was idly looking at the weather and shock, horror, I found that its raining in the desert today!

  rainfall in the Libyan desert - chart for last night

The rain is hitting south west Libya. It is just east and south of Ghat over a wide area (and nowhere else north for 1000 kilometres in any direction) . Indeed I've just checked and moderate rain is forecasted for Ghat itself today and tomorrow. This is incredibly rare. Ghat normally gets just 10mm of rain on average and Sebha a long way to its east gets 25mm.

I would love to be birding at Ghat and eastward this week. Many passage birds are flying this way at the moment particularly towards Niger delta. My money is on at least some of them stopping over.

I wonder if any birder follows the desert rains or do we all hit upon them by chance?


  1. Last night it rained so hard where I am in Ain Zara (Tripoli) that our power was cut off for quite a while during the night. This morning I heard from a friend in Tajoura that said it didn't rain at all there. It was raining here again just a few minutes ago. We usually get a bit of rain in September - just a drizzle that combines with the heat to make a nice humid steam that the locals say is good to ripen the dates. But having it rain this hard is unusual. I am so happy to have the rain as it's been so dry the last few years.

  2. Khadija. thanks for your comment. Its a bit weird, Libya seems to have more rain in September than in the past but less during the winter. let's hope for a wet winter this year for the birds as well as the people.