Thursday 14 October 2010

Urban birding - Benghazi style

Bird watching is my hobby but for my living I teach English at the Benghazi Medical Centre. I have known for some time that the gardens of the hospital host many birds. The immediately obvious are laughing dove, pigeon, house sparrow and great grey shrike.

Its not really possible to birdwatch extensively there as this might appear insensitive to patients and their relatives. However I keep my eyes open and occasional carry my camera.

hospital gardens, Benghazi Medical Centre (BMC)

The well-watered environment is attractive to many birds. At the moment there are plenty of passage warblers darting between cover. My problem is the cover is so good!

common redstart, Benghazi Medical Centre (BMC)

One bird I did photograph was taken last night as I left work. It was a common redstart. This bird is not so shy as the warblers. However, it took a bit of identifying because once again it is not on the Collin's guide's distribution map for Cyrenaica. 

Not only is the BMC itself good for birds but the area to its west for about 4 kilometres is also very good. The reason is because the BMC and west is an upmarket and very green area. Next door to the BMC is the city zoo and main park and the housing to the west is arguably the lushest in the city.

white wagtail near my home

My neighbourhood is not so lush. However this blog is about the birding I did in the 24 hours from 5pm last night to 5 pm tonight - all walked from the BMC!  And my neighbourhood made a contribution. It was the second contribution following the sighting of the common redstart at BMC last night.

This morning on the way to work, my colleague Wendy spotted birds near a newly created puddle. They turned out to be white wagtail which is a common wintering bird throughout Libya but nice to see nevertheless.

well watered neighbourhood west of BMC

I don't teach on Thursday afternoons so I chose to leave the main hospital  gate and turn left towards the west. Some of this western area is well watered. And in Libya were there is water there are birds.

grey wagtail, west of BMC

On some of the watered grass there was an abundance of different wagtails and pipits. I finally got to see many grey wagtail which is well documented to winter in great numbers in northern Libya but which had mostly avoided me for the past two winters! looks like I may have been looking in the wrong places.

yellow wagtail, west of BMC

Almost as common on the lawns were yellow wagtail. This bird is on passage but stays in Libya for some time before moving on.

red throated pipit, west of BMC

I was quite surprised to see several red throated pipit. Some of these winter in Tripolitania and I suspect some will stay here too.I need to keep a watch on this.

hoopoe, west of BMC

It wasn't all pipits. There were also several hoopoe. Lawns are a luxury in Libya and hoopoe love the worms they generate. Libya has many resident hoopoe (contrary to guide books which think the bird isn't in the country). Libya also has plenty of passage hoopoe too. 

spotted flycatcher, west of BMC

I saw another common redstart but it evaded my camera. As for other passage birds, there are still some spotted flycatcher about.

house sparrow west of BMC

I took a final photograph of a house sparrow to remind myself that not all the birds were exotic. 


  1. ^_^
    welcome Mr Robert I'm glad 2see different types of birds from my country by great photographer

    have a nice time

  2. Thank you for your kind words. I wouldn't call me a great photographer! I am a bird watcher first who likes photographing.

  3. Rob
    It is essential to pass your local experience of benghazi to locals.. Why dont you invite some students to become benghazi first local birdwatchers.. their city is the real heaven for birds all year round.. and I confiss that I failed to lobby any in the past.. you may do. Give it a try.


  4. Abdul,

    My very poor Arabic would make teaching schoolchildren almost impossible! However some of the adults in my English class might be interested.