Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Wadi Dana - the wheatears

My Eid break away from Libya was in Jordan. At Wadi Dana, Jordan I was shown a guide book on the fauna of Jordan. It has quite a big section on birds. It says the most common wheatear at Wadi Dana is hooded wheatear which is apparently resident. This had appeal to me because a hooded wheatear would have been a "lifer" for me (first sighting in the wild of a new bird).

I was further told that "wheatears" could be seen if you walk down into the wadi from Dana village (1200 metres).

Well, I made a very long walk down into the wadi and saw many birds (to be blogged on later days) but no hooded wheatear. 

The first relative of the wheatear family I saw was blackstart.  This made me happy because it was a "lifer".  Its not recorded in Libya but I have high hopes it is in the Tibesti mountains and Uweinat in the far south of Libya which have pretty well not been birded by anyone. It is recorded in Chadian Tibesti very close to these areas. So if I can get down there at least I know what to look for!

blackstart, Wadi Dana

I did see two other wheatears on the way down to the wadi at about 600 metres. The first one was a female finch's wheatear which I knew well from my time in Azerbaijan.

mourning wheatear, Wadi Dana

The second bird was a mourning wheatear.  This bird is closely related to the maghreb wheatear which I know in Libya. However this was another "lifer" for me.

male kurdish wheatear, above Wadi Dana

However it was the next day on a different walk that I saw my most exciting new wheatear (another "lifer"). I was retuning from a visit to the next valley on a high road above Dana village. I looked up and saw a wheatear at about 1300 metres.

It was a male kurdish wheatear. It has a characteristic black then white then red pattern from the tip of its tail upwards. The only possible confusion species is a red-rumped wheatear which I know very well from Libya and is quite different really -not least with head pattern, tail pattern and height of habitat!

second shot of a male kurdish wheatear, above Wadi Dana

From the map in Collins guide Wadi Dana looks to be at the far western side of the corridor of its migration route to the red sea coast.However, you have to wonder if this bird is not already wintering. It looks like there may still be some open questions in western palearctic countries other than Libya!

1 comment:

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