Monday, 1 November 2010

A starling swarm

Last Thursday a flock of starling of biblical proportions - many thousand strong - flew over the centre of Benghazi.

By Saturday it had dispersed a little but several flocks in their hundreds were easily seen. If you watched them like me and a group of friends they sometimes joined together in the air and then split into different groups from which they started. 

part of one of the smaller! flocks of starling over Benghazi on October 31st

I have no doubt that the number of starling in Cyrenaica is much greater than in Tripolitania. Indeed it is becoming clearer by the day that the number of wintering passerines (and probably non-passerines) as a whole is higher. And yet the distribution maps in guides say the opposite. The map situation is all down to under-reporting.

I think the reason for the greater numbers is not so much to do with the respective Libyan habitats but because Eastern Europe gets much colder than Western Europe and more birds simply head south to Cyrenaica from the east than head towards Tripolitania from the west.

Another bird that is forming big flocks is skylark. These flocks can be seen in great numbers in the countryside. But beware there are also more flocks of lesser short toed lark around than in summer. These gravitate close to wetlands. Don't jump to the conclusion that you are seeing skylark especially when near water. 

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