The most obvious birds were the gulls. These were mostly slender billed gull with a small number of yellow legged gull. It still surpirises me that the more common (in winter) black headed gull does n't seem to be next to the sea in great numbers but seems to prefer inland haunts.
four slender billed gull at Ain Azziana
The picture above has gulls of different ages but just look at how far the one on the right has extended its neck!
As well as the gulls you can't miss the large number of cormorant here at the moment.
cormorant at Ain Azziana
This time the heron family were in shorter supply (except for large numbers of cattle egret on the near-by land). No little egret but there was one great egret which is a much less common wintering bird.
great egret wading near a slender billed gull
I nearly missed the one grey heron present who was mostly hidden from view.
grey heron, Ain Azziana
Once again there were several wintering whiskered tern which is a common feature of this part of the coast (and even inland at Old Marj too).
I have no doubt there were more of the larger waders here than when I last visited in December. I was very pleased to see a grey plover. This is a bird the guidebook say is only on passage in north east Libya but which I see regularly albeit in small numbers.
Likewise with greenshank, another regularly seen bird in small numbers but which the books say isn't here in winter. The one below was seen on the western side of the Ain which I hadn't visited before.
And yet again the same scenario is true of ringed plover! Seen in winter but not in the books.
ringed plover, Ain Azziana
I am ever hopeful of seeing a little ringed plover here (or near-by) in winter. I have seen in north west Libya near the border with Tunisia but never in north east Libya at this time of year. It would appear very few birds stay north of the Sahara.
Along with black winged stilt (at Ain Azziana again but not pictured) the most common medium-sized wader here is common redshank but it is definitely shy.
I want to say something about the water level in the marshy area to the east of the site. It was the lowest I have seen since I started visiting.
I really don't fully understand what's going on. It has rained harder this winter than in the previous three yet the water levels here is down. I have three ideas
- perhaps some of the water used to be "dirty water" and which has been stopped and diverted to the brand new sewage works the city is investing in
- some construction somewhere has interrupted the fresh water aquifer which supplies some of the water (some is tidal from the sea)
- the underground aquifer simply releases water with a big time delay after the rains
stonechat at Ain Azziana
A result of the drying out of some of the more marshy areas is the loss of any obvious sightings of bluethroat and reed bunting seen before.
Though chiffchaff, stonechat and crested lark which don't need really wetland have remained.
crested lark at Ain Azziana
Time will tell me what's going on.