Monday, 7 February 2011

Courting corn buntings and other land birds

There is more to Old Marj than water birds. For one thing many of my students say that the area is haunted since the 1962 earthquake killed so many and even those who don't believe it's haunted won't go near the lake at night. 

The other thing Old Marj has got is land birds. They may not be so prominent as the water birds but they are interesting too. 

two corn bunting sharing a tree

I'm dedicating this blog to the land birds of Old Marj. I've blogged once before about the land birds here so this blog will hopefully cover only new ground. 

First new observation was that the area has corn bunting. This is not surprising as I have seen flocks at two Wadis 30 -70 kilometres to the south and south west of Marj respectively.  However I think corn bunting may breed here.

left hand corn bunting at Marj

The two corn bunting in a tree stayed in the same position for over five minutes staring at each other. I don't know whether this is courting behaviour but it certainly looked like it.

right hand corn bunting

In breeding plumage corn bunting takes on a yellow look which makes them more like a non-breeding yellowhammer than at other times. Luckily we don't get yellowhammer here so there was zero chance of confusion.  Furthermore the bill on these birds was very heavy so they could only be corn bunting anyway.

black redstart

I managed to get quite close to a black redstart which I watch closely now to see if they are European or Turkish sub-species. The one above is European.

goldfinch and linnet together

The goldfinch and linnet I had seen on previous visits were in a super-flock of mixed species this time. I have seen this before (at Jardinah farm in the summer). At other times in Libya I have also seen goldfinch mixed with house sparrow (Jardinah again) and with greenfinch (at Farwa last winter).

hoopoe on a wire

Hoopoe was again easily seen at Old Marj.

white wagtail

Plenty of white wagtail and grey wagtail were around too. They are nearly all now in breeding plumage. Spring is very close now. I expect to see the first passage birds very soon.

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