Monday, 4 October 2010

The ducks have arrived

Last Friday was a busy day. After the excitement of a visit to Ain Azziana to check up on the unidentified dark heron we moved on eastward to the wetlands just east of Deryanah. This was not as long a stop as I would have wished because my destination at the end of the day was the resort of Ras Al Hilal. 

Incidentally, Ras Al Hilal is the "Lands End" or "Finisterre" of Cyrenacia and is 120 kilometres further east of Deryanah. It is also holidaying place for the Libyan middle class.

Back to the birding - The wetlands east of Deryanah were home to tens of waders the previous week but by last Friday they had multiplied. However the biggest change was with ducks rather than waders. Last week I had seen only a handful of unidentified dabbling ducks. This week there were many more.  The biggest group were teal. There were at least 80 birds.

However there were a smaller number - perhaps 15 or so other dabbling ducks which were a little more difficult for me to identify.

dabbling ducks which were dabbling!

They were a little bit more difficult to identify because when I first saw them they were all up-ended and dabbling in the water. Had they just arrived and needed food?

flying pintail duck, Dernayah, early October

There were much easier to identify in flight. Their small heads, white trailing edges and black flash in front of them marked them out as pintail duck.

Cyrenaica has at least ten times more wintering ducks than Tripolitania according to the UN winter water bird count. Teal and pintail duck are among the known winterers in Cyrenica although they are not the most common so I was pleased with the sighting.

waders continue to multiply at Deryanah

I really didn't have time to look hard at the waders (see September's blog "next wave of waders and more" for details of what was seen here before). It was difficult enough as I didn't have my scope and getting close meant a muddy experience. I can say that the wetlands are getting very crowded.  It was no surprise that the area attracted the attention of two marsh harrier (see a later blog on birds of prey seen on that day)

greenshank, Deryanah

One new bird for this wetland which I did notice was a greenshank. It's legs looking red below the water line simply because the water had a red hue. I wonder why greenshank travel north in spring in groups but fly south in ones and twos like this one?

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