Friday 17 December 2010

Gulls and terns at Farwa

This blog has been produced with the help of Ali Berbash. Ali is one of the new generation of Libyan bird watchers. He is local and obtained his first degree at Al Fatah University, Tripoli. He is now studying for a masters in zoology at the same university.

He works for the Libyan Environment General Authority and he is a very good bird watcher. 

I think he is a very good photographer too!  He took all the photos you see below.

flock of slender billed gull by Ali Berbash

All these pictures were taken on December 12th either at Farwa lagoon or near-by at Zuwarah.

In Tripolitania in winter the gulls are mostly slender billed gull and yellow legged gull (both also found in Cyrenaica), Audouin gull (rare in Cyrenaica) and black backed gull (uncommon in Cyreniaca). Conversely the most common gull in Cyrenaica in winter is black headed gull which is uncommon in Tripolitania.

The first picture above is of slender billed gull which is found all over the Libyan coast. I think this is a beautiful shot.

Ali Berbash with scope

The picture below is at Zuwarah which is about 20 kilometres east of Farwa. The birds are a mix of Audouin gull and Mediterranean gull.

Audouin gull and Mediterranean gull, Zuwarah

Caspian tern breed at Farwa and can be seen there in the winter and at near-by Zuwarah. This is probably there southernmost breeding place in the Western Palearctic. Some Caspian tern migrate 1,000s of kilometres but Farwa's birds don't migrate.  Its quite possible their numbers are strengthened in winter by migrants.

Caspian tern, Zuwarah

The final picture is a real mix of gulls and terns. I can see Mediterranean gull and black backed gull and Caspian tern. There are also three lesser crested tern towards the right. (tip you may need to blow up the picture which is constrained by the blog limits).

Gulls and terns 

Last year at about the same time I also saw some lingering lesser crested tern. It's seems in mild Octobers and Novembers some linger although I didn't see any when I visited last January. I wonder if the remaining ones in December?

Thanks are due to Ali Berbash for giving me permission to show his photos.


  1. Hi Rob,

    I've just sent you a note via twitter but perhaps this is a better bet. I'm the author of the new northeastern section of the Lonely Planet guide to Libya. This is my first time on the title and I'd love to include some first-hand knowledge about birding in the region, particularly around Jalu.

    If you'd be interest in having a chat, I'd love to hear from you at Unfortunately we'll be going to press shortly, so I'd need to get something sorted in the next couple of days.

    All the best, Kate

  2. Kate,
    Nice to hear from you. Good to see Lonely Planet taking an interest in birds.

    I'll email you today (probably this evening) with some more information. In the meantime feel free to use what you see in this blog. Also consider visiting the African Bird Club. The link is on my blog. The general introduction should be particularly useful