Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A last look for sometime at Jebel Akhdar

This may not be my best blog on Libyan birds but sadly it will be my last one for some time. 

Just before the uprising started I visited the Jebel Akhdar in the second week in February. It is very green this year as rainfall has been higher than usual. This blog is about the Marowah area. It's towards the top of Jebel Ahkdar at about 650 metres.

a forest next to the town of Marowah

My first stop in the area was in a small forest right next to the town.. It is a typical forest of the area and I am fairly sure it is artificially planted. There were only cypress trees. This type of artificial forest doesn't have much diversity of bird species. Indeed in this forest I only saw goldfinch and heard chaffinch.

goldfinch singing at Marawah

The goldfinch above was singing its heart out for several minutes. In this sort of forest in Tripolitania you are bound to see many serin but once again I failed to see any in Cyrenaica. I am very confident in saying that serin is one of the very few birds which is over-reported in Libya by Collins. 

chaffinch near Qandulah

Another forest near Qandulah was quite similar with chaffinch and goldfinch but it held at least one wintering robin too which alluded my camera.

kestrel at a wadi near Marowah

The best birding in this high plateau area was not in a forest at all.

Most of the high plateau area is wind swept and not too fertile however there area few fertile wadi valleys which have been taken over for growing crops. One of these just east of Marowah had the best birding in the area - at least at this time of year.

Here I saw barn swallow and alpine swift. The former were almost certainly on passage. However the latter are probably resident in the area. 

There are plenty of kestrel (and common raven) in the upper reaches of the Jebel Akhdar. One kestrel at this particular wadi caught my attention. It stayed perched on a wire for a long time. I took this as a sign that the area had plenty of small birds.

linnet at a wadi near Marowah

Sure enough as well as barn swallow and alpine swift there was a large flock of linnet as well as a few laughing dove.

meadow pipit at wadi near Marowah

I took a close look at the pipits in the fields. Some were on the wires too. I had to check that they were wintering meadow pipit rather than passage tree pipit particularly as tree pipit more regularly perch on wires than meadow pipit. I am pretty sure they were meadow pipit though.

This wadi looked a good location to find passage birds and I had planned to go back there during March. I am sure it would hold tree pipit and yellow wagtail at very least. Alas I don't think I will be there to see them there or any other place in Libya for that matter. 

My next blogs will probably be about Bulgarian birds (where I have a home) or Namibian and Botswanan birds where I am taking a holiday in the near future.

Stay tuned.

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