Sunday 10 October 2010

The effect of winter rain

It rained in Benghazi over night. It was the first real rain of the autumn -not just a drop - on my road this morning I can hear the sweet sound of cars driving through the wet as I write this. This is exactly what I had hoped for. There are few permanent wetlands in Libya - most are in Cyrenaica. These wetlands are getting fuller with waders and ducks by the day. 

There are also many dry salt marshes (sebkhets) which fill up during the winter and these host many more waders than now. We get flamingo and crane but not if the salt marshes are empty. Last night was a good start. Many birds which are here at the moment will make decisions whether to stay or move on. I am sure last night helped some to stay.

Temperature oC
09 Oct
( Sat )
Light rain
10 Oct
( Sun )
Partly cloudy
Partly cloudy
11 Oct
( Mon )

Unfortunately we are due a Gibli for Tuesday (Gibli is the local word for the hot southerly wind from the desert which brings lots of sand). After that apparently there is more rain. I hope so. The real winter birding fun can begin.

flock of arriving curlew, Ain Azziana

I visited both Ain Azziana and the wetland east of Deryanah on Friday. Both are getting fuller with waders and ducks.

At about lunchtime, I saw a big flock of curlew arrive. I love this bird. The Libyan coast hosts hundreds throughout the winter and many are in unvisited sebkhets across the 1900 kilometre coast. Part of my self-appointed job in this blog is to encourage birders to visit this country. So if you want to make a name and find the (viewed by some as extinct) slender billed curlew, this is your best chance!  You are not going to do it if you stay at home. Consider this : Morocco has less coast line than Libya and has been much more surveyed so where are you more likely to find the bird? Come visit us now!

Don't be put off by the distribution maps in the guides. Collins (which I still take everywhere for ID purposes) does n't have curlew in Libya except in the north west corner 1100 kilometres west of where I took the photograph.

black-winged stilt, Ain Azziana

The numbers of black-winged stilt continue to increase. It's a local bird but there are also many passage migrants and some who stay the winter. Either way it is very numerous today.

waders - mostly dunlin, east of Deryanah 

At Deryanah, its the same story. The wader numbers are on the up. Above is a picture of mostly dunlin but there is a cross section of many waders, little stint, sanderling, ruff, redshank, greenshank various sandpipers and ringed plover.

teal, wetlands east of Deryanah

As for ducks, there are still pintail and an increased number of teal. I finally got a shot of the teal. See above. Its not a great shot but if you are forensically minded you can enlarge the picture of the middle bottom duck (and several others too) to see its green strip merging into black.

In England, if it rains we say it is "lovely weather for ducks".  I think the teal like today.

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