Saturday, 5 February 2011

Spectacled warbler in Cyreniaca

The wetland just east of Deryanah has been interesting every time I have visited it. Yesterday it was extremely interesting but I nearly left the place before the exciting things started to happen.

Deryanah wetland has recently changed. Until two months ago the dirty water from the town was channelled into the area and made its way towards the fresh water lake. 

Far from being bad for birding, the western side of the wetland which received the dirty water used to be rich!  There used to be large flocks of waders such as dunlin and common redshank. 

Following heavy rain the western side had some water but this time it was  fresh water. However the birds were restricted to a couple of drinking meadow pipit, a few white wagtail and a single kentish plover. Near-by were one or two black redstart.

kentish plover on western side of Deryanah wetland

I now take careful note of the black redstart since I visited Tripoli last week. There the birds had been from the European sub species. Here they are mixed with those from the Turkish sub-species. I am getting better at differentiating the females as well as the males now. I am pretty sure the one below is from the European sub species. 

black redstart, Deryanah

Despite the lack of birds in the western part of the wetland I decided to have a quick look in the direction of the eastern half. This means walking past a rubbish tip and a small waterlogged area with tamarisk trees.  There were plenty of chaffchaff still there. I find the types of area - trees next to rubbish dumps always have large numbers of chiffchaff in winter. The common snipe which were there earlier in winter when the area still had dirty water to re-in force the wetness have gone.

waterlogged tamarisk - good for chiffchaff

The rubbish tip housed plenty of cattle egret, white wagtail and a very large flock of starling. I didnt linger to watch them! 

cattle egret, Deryanah

I was half heartedly heading towards the eastern end thinking it is a huge distance to walk to the eastern water. Furthermore it was over low lying scrub and should I give up. Suddenly, I saw the whole flock of starling set off. Someone or a dog must have disturbed them.

More surprisingly still, two curlew also took off from roughly the same area. They must have been disturbed by the same event.

two curlew at Deryanah

The curlew headed off towards the eastern lake. Their movement changed my mind about going back. I am always on the look out for the elusive slender-billed curlew. I decided to continue going east. 

wet and endless garrigue at Deryanah 

I never did make it all across to the eastern lake. Within 5 metres of entering the garrigue I caught sight of two spectacled warbler. Apologies for the photos which are over-exposed and a bit bit blurred. Photographing warblers is fraught because they never stay still and on this occasion I was nervous too!

first sight of spectacled warbler

I know spectacled warbler from my time posted in Tripoli. It is a resident in a few areas (notably around Garabouli) and winters over a wider area.

spectacled warbler at Deryanah from the side

Records of spectacled warbler in north east Libya (Cyrenaica) are very rare. I found only one in my search. This was in the Bird Life International write up on the Ain Al Ghazala  IBA (Important Bird Area)  - coastal wetland just west of Tobruk. They say it is resident there.  I'm not sure how certain this information is. I have some doubts about the Libyan IBA write ups. For example the one for Jebel Nafusa says that Moussier's redstart is resident which it isn't! 

reproduced from Collins "Guide to the birds of Britain and Europe" 2nd edition by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterstrom. NB Green circle added by me

I don't make a habit of reproducing maps from books (only scientific papers!) but in this case please excuse the exception as it helps explain a point. 

The Collins guide doesn't have it in Cyrenaica. However if you look carefully at their map you see it is down as a passage bird in Albania. The passage birds there have got to go on to somewhere (that's what passage means) and the obvious place for such a short distance migrant is north east Libya. 

frontal view of spectacled warbler at Deryanah

I'm on the look out for more spectacled warbler and have made a mental note to visit more garrigue. I have certainly under-visited this type of habitat. 

1 comment:

  1. Dear Rob,

    congratulation for the pioneering and revolutionary work you are doing down there.
    One more time I would like to stress that you should contact L. Svensson in order to redraw and update the distributional maps in his new book which will appear maybe this year (Birds of WP byL. Svensson and Hadoram Shirihai).
    Best regards,