Monday 18 October 2010

From our Tripoli correspondent "Birding with Ibrahim"

Birding For a Lark now has new correspondents based in Tripoli as well as Rob in Benghazi. This is the first in a series of occasional articles from Andy and Helen.

what a high nest site the storks chose

Andy and Helen are new to Libya – we’ve been teaching and birding for the last 10 years in the UK, Poland, Slovakia, China, Turkey, Colombia and Chile.

Helen with local birder Ibrahim

Today, we had a day out with Ibrahim from Tripoli to the Wadi Ghan reservoir. En route we came across a recently-filled lake that proved to be the best birding spot of the day. Here we spotted:

·         Spoonbill
·         Blue rock thrush
·         Rock dove
·         Black wheatear
·         Black-winged stilts (4)
·         Sandpipers (unsure which)
·         Shoveller
·         Long-legged buzzard
·         Little egret
·         Redshank

Along the way, we stopped at a farmer’s field that was well watered. Here was a feast of other birds:

·         Dozens of Hoopoe
·         Redstart
·         Black-eared wheatear
·         Spanish sparrow

Ibrahim (left) with Muaad and Wagih

At the Wadi Ghan reservoir we bumped into 2 Libyan birders (Muaad and Wagih) who are busy compiling a bird guide to Libya. This was a shock to Ibrahim who was under that impression that he was the only native, birding Libyan! At the reservoir we got:

·         Grey Heron
·         Black wheatear
·         Spoonbill
·         Kestrel

Ibrahim consults his faithful Collins

Throughout the day, alongside the road, we also bagged:

·         Desert grey shrike
·         Crested lark
·         Thekla lark (a first for us)
·         Laughing dove
·         Black stork
·         Serin
·         House sparrow

With 24 species, a great introduction to North African birding. We’re looking forward to more – hopefully we’ll be over in Benghazi soon.

Andy and Helen

Editor's note: the black stork is the most interesting find.  Each year a dozen or so black stork are recorded as flying over Malta towards Libya (and sadly where in Malta a sizeable percentage are illegally killed) .It is superficially surprisingly that only two records of live birds have been recorded and one dead bird. Nevertheless there is severe under-recording in Libya. Andy's sighting is wholly consistent with  the time of year that the Maltese birds must pass near Wadi Ghan.


  1. Hi Rob & readers

    It seems that the black storks really uncommon in Libya, the only 2 reports in Bundy (the Birds of Libya, 1978) was: one bird taxidermed in Tripoli natural history museum, labeld Jefara (NW Libya) without more details. the other information was one bird seen at Serir (SE Libya) in April 1970 by Hogg.

    Really good to see them again in Tripolitania..



  2. They must be here on passage in bigger numbers than we observe simply because all the black storks seen in Malta have to fly this way. I can't see the Maltese birds taking anything other than the shortest route to the African mainland and that means Libya. In a sense the Maltese do the count for us.