Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Birding around Ajdabiya

There is a very large saltmarsh on the coast near Ajdabiya in the winter. It is known as a haven for water birds. We decided to try to find it while on the way to Brega last Friday.  

We didn't know the exact location so we just drove towards the coast out of Ajdabiya city centre.

It looked like a big mistake since the route went straight through a city refuse tip! and there was no immediate sign of a saltmarsh. Nevertheless we persevered and we were rewarded in a different way to expectations!

male red-rumped wheatear, Ajdabiya

At the very edge of the tip there were some low level earth and rock mounds which were home to red-rumped wheatear.  I hadn't seen this bird since I left Tripoli. It's relatively common on parts of the Jebel Nafusa. Its also well documented here but this was my first sighting. It made me think I probably haven't been visiting enough dry lands.

female red-rumped wheatear

The female is very distinctive. It is the only wheatear with a rufous head. I failed to get a good shot (see above) of the bird side-on but I have several good ones (see below)of the bird with its head turned away!

different view of a female red-rumped wheatear

In this dry land we came across a large flock of at least 30 stone curlew. I suspect give the size of the flock they were wintering birds rather than some of our residents.

stone curlew at edge of tip, Ajdabiya

It was strange to see stone curlew hiding within the earth mounds since they prefer flat ground to run on. There was plenty of flat ground adjacent to their site. I wonder if they de-camp there after dusk.

four stone curlew, Ajdabiya 

Actually the salt marsh did begin close to the earth mounds but we had no time to investigate them. Brega was the main target and it proved very fruitful as I will blog over the coming days. 

landscape picture with Abdullah and Wendy, Ajdabiya

Just before we left the area, my driver Abdullah and fellow teacher and friend Wendy posed for a landscape picture on one of the rock mounds which the red-rumped wheatear is so attracted to. 

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