Wednesday 27 October 2010

A wetland fit for a spotted crake

The last wetland we visited last Friday was the huge Sebkhet Temimi. It covers thousands of hectares in a remote area (mid way between Derna and Tobruk) and is almost certainly the largest permanent wetland in Libya.

The sad thing is Gencer and I only had an hour or so to survey it. However even the small part we saw proved to us that this is arguably the best birding place in the whole of the country.

spotted crake, sebkhet temimi

The fringes of the marsh are walkable on foot but the inner areas probably need a boat or at least water-proof wading boots.  We could see very large reed beds in the distance and kilometres of marsh land.

landscape of sebkhet temimi

Virtually the first pool we visited held very interesting and varied birds. On our approach a common snipe flew away. We saw at least two spotted crake dart for cover but not before I photographed one of them (see the top picture).

white wagtail, sebkhet temimi

At the edge of the same brightly coloured pool, a white wagtail  hovered and landed.

grey wagtail, sebkhet temimi

On and next to other near-by pools there were many more wintering white wagtail and grey wagtail. In the drier areas we saw several tawny pipit. The latter bird is probably on passage but this wetland is the nearest equivalent to the Nile delta environment that Libya has and it is possible this bird winters here just as some do in the Nile delta. 

Overhead were several kestrel and the odd roaming marsh harrier.

cattle egret, sebkhet temimi. Photo by Gencer Gencoglu

Herons were obviously well-represented. We had a short look at a squacco heron, five grey heron and several little egret and cattle egret. We are sure there were many more but we saw less than one percent of the wetland.

European robin, sebkhet temimi

There are almost certainly a large cross section of European wintering birds. Typical ones include the robin and stonechat.

stonechat, sebkhet temimi. Photo by Gencer Gencoglu

Again there are also very likely to be many different passage birds at the sebkhet. We recorded red-backed shrike, spotted flycatcher, whinchat and willow warbler without really trying.

red backed shrike, sebkhet temimi

Unfortunately it was late in the day and we simply ran out of time but I am pretty sure I could have spent two or three days there very happily.

spotted flycatcher, sebkhet temimi

I will return as soon as I can find a long weekend when I am free.

Gencer (left) and Rob (right) at the end of a superb day's birding

I am very grateful to Gencer for his expertise and companionship on this great day.  

Below is a list of birds seen at Sebkhet Teimimi compiled by Gencer Gencoglu. 

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