Saturday 23 October 2010

The passerines at Ain Azziana

I spent Friday in Derna area in the company of Turkish bird watcher Gencer Gencoglu. We had a remarkable time visiting wetlands east of the city.

I will blog about our trip over the next few days. I think the birding was some of the best I have had in the country since I arrived. Please visit the blog over the next few days to see exactly what I mean.

I am waiting on a second opinion on an identification we made there before I blog. 

I also have some very interesting news from friends - Sam and Jane who work down in Sebha (in the desert). Their information will also be blogged this week  so I am very excited about the forthcoming blogs! 

willow warbler at Ain Azziana

Meanwhile, on the way to Derna I stopped off at Ain Azziana. This lagoon just outside Benghazi still has many grey heron and little egret. Have the great egret I saw last week moved on? It looks like it.

I am not going to write much about the big water birds particularly as the flamingos haven"t arrived yet. It needs a cold spell in Turkey and or in the south of France for them to appear at Ain Azziana.

Instead lets look at the passerines for a change.  The wetland is chocabloc (British English for full) of willow warbler and chiffchaff. The willow warbler will go south soon while the chiffchaff stay the winter. 

whinchat ,Ain Azziana

There are both whinchat and stonechat around at the moment. In spring the stonechat depart from their winter here before the whinchat breeze through from south of the Sahara. In autumn it's different. The whinchat did arrive first but enough have hung around long enough for the stonechat so both are here at the same time.

stonechat, Ain Azziana

These days, I don't have a problem separating whinchat from stonechat but it would be superb practice if I did!

stonechat, Ain Azziana

When they first arrive, stonechat appear to be in loose flocks and then they disperse over the course of the winter. At the moment, because they have just arrived, you often see a number together.

willow warbler, Ain Azziana

I'm not sure whether the willow warbler arrive together but there are so many you occasionally see two on one bush (as in photograph above)!

kingfisher (left)  and little egret (right)

Just to remind you the non- passerines are still there. There are plenty of kingfisher (not strictly a non passerine, I know) , grey heron and little egret. And the waders such as black winged stilt are around. However the water levels are rising with the rain we have had. Without wading boots or a boat its going to be very difficult to see the waders here from now on. But the flamingos will love the high water levels when they come. 

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