Saturday 4 December 2010

Journey to Jalu

I have just come back from Jalu Oasis and I have at least three pretty exciting observations while there to tell you about.

However, you will have to wait for the three top observations. First I will tell you about the journey there.  I hope you find it is informational and will whet your appetite for the series of blogs on the field trip which will follow this one over the coming days!

It's 160  kilometres from Benghazi to Ajdabiya and a further 270 kilometres from Ajdabiya to Jalu which was our destination. Most of the journey is south. The land between Adjabiya becomes desert within 60 kilometres. When you travel through there it's difficult to imagine how green Jalu and Awjila can be despite being in the middle of the desert. 

brown-necked raven, 75 Km out of Ajdabiya

After 60 kilometres, there isn't much other than sand. The birds are restricted to brown necked raven and hoopoe lark in the odd greener patch (the lark is seen up to 150 Km south of Ajdabiya and then no more).

two brown necked raven - you rarely see this bird alone

About 135 Kilometres out of Ajdabiya (and just off the road) there is a single small oasis which is easily missed by travellers. I know this because my footprints were the only ones to be seen when I stopped there on the way back (three days later).

small oasis, 130Km south east of Ajdabiya

I am sure the oasis must be a pretty good migrant trap. It even has resident fish to entice some of the larger birds (especially herons and egrets)

fish in the oasis

It's worth visiting in March and October on your way to Jalu that's for sure.

surrounding greener area as seen through the reeds at the small oasis

However despite my best endeavours I managed only to log a few findings. The first is that there was a mobile flock of spanish sparrow there (this bird really roams Libya in the winter).

spanish sparrow hiding in the reeds

The second finding is no surprise. There were plenty of white wagtail about. This bird is everywhere  in Libya at the moment other than in pure desert. Even there if rubbish has been thrown you can see it near-by.

white wagtail at oasis

The third finding was a bit irritating for me. I know there were two or three sylvia warbler there too but I didn't get a positive ID.  But that's the whole point about bird watching. If it were easy it would be no fun.

Tomorrow I'll start recounting what I saw at Jalu. 

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