Saturday, 31 July 2010
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Black winged stilt - Juliana - July
Last Friday was my first proper visit to the Juliana wetlands. I had visited the south western edge in late May. I don't understand why I hadn't re-visited it earlier. My excuse is that the Jardinah farm (see blogs) has been equally enticing.
The Juliana wetlands are the largest fresh water (OK - semi saline) wetlands in Libya in the summer. They are known to house thousands of water birds in the winter. However they are little birded in the summer.
I found the wetlands to be very special as you will see.
There were several cattle egret in the fields. I am now so used to seeing this bird even though its not on most distribution maps for Libya. Nevertheless they have been well documented by Gaskell in sandgrouse magazine.
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
On top of an antenna on one of the water sprayers I got a big surprise. I saw a sparrowhawk perched for some time. Like with the grey heron, its going to take another visit or two to get a good photo. The sparrowhawk has very recently been reported as breeding in Cyrenaica. So I shouldn't have been so surprised to see it in a green place with hundreds of food items available. This was the unidentified bird of prey seen early in the shade of the avenue of trees.
After following the storks and cattle egret and watching a sparrowhawk, I caught up with one of the mobile flocks of greater short toed lark that I had seen on the two previous visits. I finally got a pretty good shot of this lark. Each week I have progressively taken better photos. I'm reasonably happy with the latest. I think its pretty definitive proof that this bird is here in summer and not just a winter visitor as guide books say.
Monday, 19 July 2010
The glorious Greco-Roman city of Cyrene
On Friday 9th July, I visited the ancient city of Cyrene near the modern town of Shahat. This was a day when bird watching was combined with culture. Cyrene is a must-see place before anyone self-respecting world traveller dies. It is perched up on the escarpment of the Jebel Ahkdar (Green Mountain) at 625 metres overlooking the sea.
It was the coolest day of the summer - only 28C in Benghazi and 23C at Cyrene. This was bliss to those of us: Wendy, Ed and I who have laboured in the North African summer and chose this day out together.
We set out early, giving us time to visit make the long trip up the Al Marj plain and on to the Jebel Akhdar. The hill range is the most temperate in Libya and has the most rainfall. It has more in common with southern Europe than with the rest of Libya.
We took a break for mid morning tea between Qasr Libya and Cyrene. While the others drank, I ventured. I didn't have to venture far. The hedgerow (itself a novelty) contained at least three African Blue Tit. This was my first observation of them in Libya. they only live in the Jebel Akhdar. Before I had only seen them in Morocco. Although they weren't shy, they refused to move out of the sun.
Saturday, 3 July 2010
closer picture of yellow wagtail - Jardinah farm - July
As for the sub-species, Is this a female feldegg? If so it looks like the farm is populated with birds that thought better of finishing their migration to Turkey or the balkans this spring. I would be very interested to know if these are the same birds as are resident at the Nile Delta which is the closest other population.Apart of the birds that shouldn't be there, there were some I might have expected but didn't see last time (see previous blogs for a fuller listing of those I saw).
I might have expected to see goldfinch as this bird is common throughout north east Libya. I did. Once again it was flocking. And once again I saw no adults. However the interesting thing this time was that I saw a mixed flock with linnet. and it did contain two adults from this species (one male and one female). This was the first time I had seen linnet since my move to Benghazi.
Two birds are pictures below. The top one is a young goldfinch and the bottom one is a linnet. The two birds were on the same bush along with others.
I posted that I saw a flock or two of short toed larks here last time. I was asked to look at the bird again since the photo was perhaps not consistant with this bird. I am a fair minded person so I did. However, I am now totally confident in my original identification. I don't want to list all the correct characteristics but I am very comfortable with myself. I don't have any rarities committee to deal with here!
I have made a mental note to explain that photo over-exposure is a real problem here, the sun is very strong and my camera is only a nikon P100 . So my photos of mobile flocks that are camera shy at 20 metres are poor to very poor. As for fine detail - no chance.
Nevertheless I prefer it this way. I don't want to end up like many east Asian tourists who get the kick out of the photo.
Any way, the birds were still there and they were still mobile. Here is another poor picture of a short toed lark taken yesterday. I take all comments seriously especially from experts. So I reviewed what I saw against the known picture banks. The birds in Jardinah look very similar to the sub species pictures for Israel ( an overall lighter bird) and not the nominate. Does anyone know what the sub species in Israel is?