Friday 18 June 2010

Buduzeera park, Benghazi

Buduzeera lake- Benghazi - mid June

Buduzeera is a natural semi-salty lake on the north eastern edge of Benghazi. I have no idea where the water comes from but is presummably from an underground aquifer. I wonder if the aquifer may be linked to the sea and whether the bedrock filters out the salt. I have made a mental note to find out.

Anyway, the lake has been landscaped and is surrounded by holiday chalets. The landscaping is more environmentally sound than is normal in Libya. The lake is surrounded by tall reeds.

Naturally it has some interesting bird life. It has the ubiquitous house sparrow around the chalets. There are also laughing dove and pigeon. On the grass hoopoe graze. On several vantage points are great grey shrike (aucheri). As elsewhere in the city there is no sign of aucheri's cousin the desert grey shrike elegans.

The lake is teeming with fish and the lesser crested tern and little tern make good use of this. This is also the place I have seen my first yellow legged gull since arriving in Cyrenaica three weeks ago. Though I only saw three. The lake is popular with barn swallow too.

However the big attraction for me is the large breeding colony of cattle egret. Their colony is in the tall reeds closest to the main road. Clearly the noise of traffic doesn't disturb them. My guess why they chose this corner is because the reed banks are widest here.

a glimpse through the reeds at the cattle egret colony- Buduzeera - mid June

At a conservative estimate there are 80 breeding adults at the colony. Not bad for a bird which doesn't even feature on the maps as being in Libya. A couple of recent commentators have said this bird is rapidly expanding in Libya and I wouldn't disagree.

Apparently the city's big waste dump near Ganfonda (15 kilometres south of the city and at least 20 kilometres from this colony)is a big draw for them. I have yet to visit there. I prefer to visit the more attractive sights first!

I had forgotten how how much adult cattle egret change in the breeding season. Several adults had almost red beaks and orange tops to their head (see below).

breeding cattle egret -Buduzeera - mid June

By contrast the nestlings can't even muster a yellow beak. But I was pleased to see so many there!

cattle egret nestling- Buduzeera- mid June

In some ways I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't see some other birds. Given the number of fish in the lake, it looked like a good spot for Herons but prehaps the reed beds are just not private enough for them or maybe the park keepers don't want such sucessful fish eaters. I could also not detect any reed warblers or any warbler for that matter. My thoughts here are that the place just isn't wild enough. Or prehap it was just too hot and I didn't look hard enough. This is yet another place on my list for a visit on a cooler day if we get one! This summer has been hotter than usual so far.

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