Monday, 15 November 2010

A wet day at Temimi - part one

Over the past four days I have been on a trip to the remote oasis village of Jaghboub with friends Matt and Mariol and driver Abdullah. There is a lot to report and some of it is really quite exciting. 

There is so much to report that I have divided the trip into seven blogs! I hope to blog every day for the next seven so please stay tuned. The only thing that will stop me blogging is because I am now in Jordan (for a birding holiday back-to-back with Jaghboub trip) and I'm not sure if I'll have access to the internet every day. 

Visiting Jaghboub and then Wadi Dana in Jordan, I'm trying to get the very most out of my eight day Eid break.

It all started on Thursday afternoon when we left Benghazi for Derna en route to Jaghboub. After an over-night stop there, something strange happened. It rained. It rained heavily.

Our first birding stop was on Friday morning on the coast mid-way between Derna and Tobruk.

yellow legged gull, east temimi

I have visited the west side of the vast sebkhet temimi about three weeks ago. This stop was on the far east side. The two sides are totally different. The east comprises a tidal river, low vegetation and several mud flats with small lagoons.

At this site, I had real trouble identifying the two birds above. They were cleaner faced than most yellow legged gull in winter and the red spot on their bill appeared to be mostly on the lower mandible (like a caspian gull). These features tempted me to think the birds were caspian gull. I really wanted them to be Caspian gull. However, in the end I decided they were yellow legged gull. They didn't have the caspian gull posture and the bill was too short. Shame!  Yellow legged gull breeds locally but caspian gull is rare and found only in winter.

two boats at east temimi

The two boats above are not stranded! They are next to the river mouth.  The scene was haunting and a bit desolate. It was wet and cold - not very Libyan at all.

slender billed gull, east temimi

The two yellow legged gull dwarfed the much more numerous slender billed gull which are winter visitors. The lagoons had plenty. Some of them are starting to acquire the bright pink wash on their bellies (see above) that they get in early spring. They were sharing the lagoons with tens of dunlin.

cormorant, east temimi

The river was bizarre. It was flowing inland while we were there. I presume this was an incoming tide and when the tide ebbs the river changes direction with ain water (spring water) flowing into the sea. The river had a few coot and a single cormorant (pictured above).

male red-rumped wheatear, east temimi

On the drier inland about 300 metres from the sea we had parked the car. Right next to it were the ubiquitous white wagtail. However there was also a tame red-rumped wheatear. It was only last week at Ajdabiya (300 kilometres away) that I had seen my first red-rumped wheatear in Cyrenaica.  

second picture of red-rumped wheatear

I took another picture for those who like to see the red-rump. 

Since we were making such good time we decided to double back a few kilometres and visit the west side of sebkhet temimi.  Read about his part of the trip in the next blog.

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