Tuesday 19 October 2010

Birding in Brega

We finally arrived in New Brega after a long journey from Benghazi with the temperatures noticeably higher than where we had come from but the land was much greener than we expected. It didn't look like semi-desert. This came as blow because I wanted to see where white crowned wheatear begins in north east Libya. It looked straight away like this would be an improbable bird to see. We hadn't gone far enough south!  Nevertheless what we did see was very surprising.

little egret, wetland, New Brega

The journey had seemed promising enough when 50 kilometres north of New Brega we came across a brown-necked raven. Unfortunately it flew towards the sun but the photo below gives you a silhouette of this bird of desert and semi-desert.

silhouette of a brown-necked raven, north of Brega

The first bird I saw on entering the town of new Brega was a red-backed shrike. This is at the extreme west of its known broad migration front to Africa.

red-backed shrike, New Brega

We were quite shocked to see a permanent and apparently fresh water wetland  on the western edge of the town. We found it by trying to follow a grey heron we sighted in the town.

wetland, New Brega

The main water birds were ruff. This is 300 kilometres from Deryanah where I saw another sizeable flock at the end of last month. There were also some moorhen confirming my view that they are literally everywhere where there is fresh water and cover in Cyrenaica. I also saw two little egret and two grey heron.

ruff, wetland, New Brega

The other main water bird was ringed plover. There was no sign of sandpipers and their cousins. 

ringed plover, wetland, New Brega

There was a small rubbish dump near-by which attracted several cattle egret and both white wagtail and yellow wagtail.

marsh harrier, wetland, New Brega

True to form the wetland had a roaming marsh harrier like all the other major wetlands visited in autumn in Cyrenaica. In the picture above you can see how strong the sunlight was. It looks like it is penetrating the marsh harrier's wings like X-rays!

side-on view of marsh harrier, wetland, New Brega

There were plenty of different land birds attracted to the water. I saw both migrant whinchat and wintering stonechat. This were the first stonechat I had seen in Cyrenaica. it is very common in Tripolitania in winter.

whinchat, wetland, New Brega

There were local house sparrow and a flock of wintering starling in the surrounding trees. On the ground were a small number of wintering meadow pipit.

starling, wetland, New Brega

Everywhere I go and almost all terrain with any cover has spotted flycatcher. There are also easy to photograph so I took yet another picture of one for the record. Surely they must be moving on south soon?

spotted flycatcher, wetland, New Brega

Until New Brega I hadn't seen a single bee-eater all autumn. There were three or more here but they were directly into the sun form my position. I wonder if only small numbers fly through north east Libya compared with north west Libya.

bee-eater photographed into the sun, wetland, New Brega

When we finally left New Brega we headed further south west towards Old Brega. Between the two towns we noticed a larger wetland (than in New Brega) off the main road half way between the two towns.

camels and salty lagoon, near Old Brega

It took an effort to find a route to the lagoons which looked beautiful. Unfortunately we were running out of time to investigate them. Our first impression was that the lagoons were too salty for many bird species. That didn't stop kentish plover being present which loves salty water.

kentish plover, salty lagoon near Old Brega

There was also a single little egret visible. It looks like a good site when the winter rains reach there and lower the salinity although I bet flamingo would like the place just as it is.

No comments:

Post a Comment