Thursday, 23 September 2010

Spoonbills and ibises

juvenile glossy ibis, Ain Azziana, September

A few days ago I blogged my sighting of two glossy ibis and I commented that I was trying to find out whether the bird has been recorded in Cyrenaica before.  It is an established winterer in small numbers 800 kilometres further west.

Well thanks to Wagih on the yahoo Egyptian birding group I have my answer. It is well recorded back in the 1970s by Bundy at Benghazi, Shahat and Al Marj. However, the only recent sighting was in 2008 when three birds were recorded in  the UN's winter water bird count at Benghazi. 

My best guess now is that it has probably been present in low numbers at least in winter all the time.

While I was waiting for information on glossy ibis distribution (and because I had time on my hands before I go out bird watching on Friday) I discovered very interesting information on the glossy ibis's closest European cousin - the Eurasian spoonbill.

The information came from AEWA (see the end of the blog for a reference):

Nearly a third of the central European breeders fly to Libya (Cyrenaica in north east Libya and the far north west of Libya). The others go to Tunisia and the Nile delta.   This has been established by finding tagged birds. A few of the Romanian breeders also make their way to Libya.

map adapted from AEWA's report 

Above is a map taken from the report on Eurasian spoonbill. Each white line represents a single tagged bird.

I have added two red dots which show where glossy ibis is now known to winter.

This is all yet more evidence that Libya is a significant wintering and passage route for central and eastern European birds. 

Some data and map taken from "AEWA's INTERNATIONAL SINGLE SPECIES ACTION PLAN FOR THE CONSERVATION OF THE EURASIAN SPOONBILL PLATALEA LEUCORODIA" 15 – 19 September 2008, Antananarivo, Madagascar sponsored by BirdLife Netherlands


  1. Illustrative, instructive and very interesting indeed. A wonderful blog, thank you.

  2. Thanks for your kind words. I am trying very hard to put Libya on the birding map. It will take time but sooner or later it will happen.