Saturday, 13 November 2010

A desert road out of Ajdabiya

Last Saturday we travelled east out of Ajdabiya on the main desert road towards Tobruk. After the initial steppe landscape the terrain grades to semi-desert.  This is classic lark country. It is eerily silent except for the infrequent noise of traffic passing extremely fast often in convoy.

We stopped speculatively at a dry wadi about 75 kilometres out and saw nothing but a few bird prints.

Then we glimpsed a lark on the road. We stopped near a deserted, tumbled down house which proved to be a lark goldmine. 

Temminck's lark, 100 kilometres east of Ajdabiya

Here were four different types of lark within walking distance of each other. I saw my first Temminck's lark in Cyrenaica. It was only my second sighting since I started working in Libya.

Hoopoe lark, 100 kilometres east of Ajdabiya

In the same patch were some hoopoe lark. Actually we saw others later. This bird seems to like standing on the road. This is a dangerous occupation. Some of the traffic,especially mini-buses carrying Egyptian workers on the 15 hour journey to Tripoli, were hurtling at up to 150 kilometres an hour. 

bar-tailed lark, 100 kilometres east of Ajdabiya

Funnily enough, the first bar-tailed lark we saw was also standing on the road (see above) but at least it seemed a bit more street wise, moving at the first hint of traffic.

crested lark, 100 kilometres east of Ajdabiya

Needless to say there were also crested lark. This one was photographed right next to the Temminck's lark. No Dupont's lark were seen but I have little doubt they are in the area probably where the steppe starts to grade to semi-desert.

brown-necked raven, 60 kilometres east of Ajdabiya

Finally it wasn't all larks. On the way back to Ajdabiya we spotted two brown-necked raven resting on a communications mast.

One bird we didn't see was white-crowned wheatear. I suppose it just wasn't dry enough.

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