Saturday, 9 October 2010

Pipits and wagtails in the waterlogged meadow

typical view of the waterlogged fields near Deryanah

I don't particularly like wading in water-logged, muddy meadows but sometimes duty calls. To add to the problem my expensive Timberland boots give me blisters. 

It's a good job I got some results when I waded into the wetlands east of Deryanah once again. 

You'll hear about the wading birds in another blog but here I want to write about another family of birds sharing the wetlands - pipits and wagtails.

white wagtail, near Deryanah 

Last month I wrote about tree pipits and meadow pipits in a blog called "pipits amongst the water melons" In Deryanah there was a different cast.

On the flat muddy banks at the edge of the wetland I saw my first white wagtail of the winter.  In winter, it is everywhere in the country on flat spaces where it can take a run at its food - flies. I've seen it in Ghadames in the desert, in urban Tripoli and many other places. Now I've seen it in Cyrenacia. Others have reported it in Sebha and other oasis towns. I suspect I will see an awful lot more of the bird around here over the coming months.

yellow wagtail near Deryanah

Although I was in a wetland, I didn't see any grey wagtail. I'm not convinced it winters in Libya in any great numbers. Mainly I base this on two reasons. First, I've only seen two in over a year and second there is very little moving water here which they prefer to still water.

In contrast, I did see plenty of yellow wagtail at Deryanah. The landscape here resembles their breeding grounds and is probably as amenable a stop-over as any yellow wagtail is likely to get. I say stop-over since it is pretty much unknown (except for the Egyptian yellow wagtail -arguably a different species) for yellow wagtail to winter north of the Sahara.

water pipit near Deryanah

The other bird which was quite numerous caused me a small identification problem. I saw a few of these. All were more olive on the back than the book version of a water pipit but that's what the bird is. For a fleeting moment I thought it was a meadow pipit but in flight it has the characteristic black tail with white edges and its belly is white with no buff.

Water pipit is a known wintering bird so I should get lots of practice at it's identification over the coming months. 

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