Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Eastern edge of Al Kuz

Al Kuz is a massive salt pan which fills with water every winter. This year it is larger than usual and is over 4 kilometres long. You can see it easily from the main Benghazi to Tobruk coast road.

I had visited briefly in November when it was very small but I still saw flamingo and curlew. Now it is large to be honest I didn't know where to start. Beside my stay was short as it was the third stop last Friday.

open maquis at eastern edge of Al Kuz

In the end I decided to look at the far eastern edge of the "lake". To reach the lake you pass through several different types of habitat. First there is beautiful maquis. Truthfully it is best coastal maquis I have seen in Libya even though it was a bit open. Actually being a bit open makes it easier to see the birds!

The place was buzzing with the sound of sardinian warbler. They are not yet as brave as they are in spring so I spent a long time trying to snap a good photograph of one.

sardinian warbler at AL Kuz

While I was chasing sardinian warbler around I mistakenly flushed a barbary partridge. Unbelievably this was the first barbary partridge I have seen in Cyrenaica. I have seen many in Tripolitania and it is supposed to be just as common here as there.

second take of a sardinian warbler

Needless to say stonechat were much easier to photograph.

stonechat at Al Kuz

As a general rule the great grey shrike gets greyer and darker the closer you are to the coast. There is absolutely no way the birds here are the elegans sub species which the books say are here. That species sometimes called desert grey shrike is reserved for inland areas and the north west coast (in places) but not on the north east coast. Judge the one below for yourself.

great grey shrike

These birds are here all year round and are not winter visitors.

slender billed gull in flight

I spent so long in the maquis that I ran out of time for the lake itself. The maquis grades into garrigue which was full of chiffchaff before becoming waterlogged and boggy. Finally the side of lake is reached.

slender billed gull from afar

The main species on the eastern side of the lake was slender billed gull. I fear that the water level is so high this year that Al Kuz doesn't have its normal number of waders. Nevertheless this probably means other places along the coast have water for the first time this year and waders have moved there 

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