Wednesday 13 October 2010

Tourist birders at Leptis Magna

The main tourist season in Libya starts next week.

The vast majority of tourists visit Libya between mid October and late March. The most visited site is the ancient Roman site of Leptis Magna near Khoms, 100 kilometres east of Tripoli.

What most of them don't realise is that it is a very good birding site. They really should take their binoculars.

night heron, Leptis Magna, March 2006. Photo by Ecliptomanics 

Ironically the most obvious birding feature is the huge number of barn swallow that live there in the summer. They leave very late in the year compared with Europe. They leave at almost exactly the same time as the tourists arrive and come back as the last tourists of the season leave.

arch of Severus Septimus

The grounds are left in a natural state which is excellent news for birds and birders. As soon as a birder walks a few metres way from the crowds he can see the rich bird life. 

The resident birds include fulvous babbler and desert grey shrike. In the winter the place is peppered with perching stonechat. On passage you could see one of a huge number of species. The photo at the top shows a rather-out-of place night heron in late March. 
amphitheatre at Leptis Magna

The best birding is in Wadi Lebda which reaches the sea within the grounds of the site. In fact its "estuary"  formed the basis of the ancient Roman harbour.

The good news is that the wadi is signposted in English and easy to find. When I have been there I have been alone for long periods of time as most tourists ignore it's natural wonder in favour of the ruins.

Nowadays the wadi is rarely full of water even in mid winter. However it is green and thick with trees. It's a migrant trap on passage and a welcome home for wintering birds.

I have seen common redstart on passage, greenfinch in winter and a host of warblers. Go there but don't tell anybody else!

No comments:

Post a Comment