Tuesday 14 December 2010

Non-waders at Azziana

Yesterday I reported there were even more waders at Ain Azziana than at any time this winter. Well the number of non-waders was also at a new high too.

flock of gulls at Ain Azziana

There were a huge number of gulls at one (shallow) end of the Ain. The vast majority were black-headed gull and slender billed gull. These were not here in any number two weeks ago although there were a few dozen slender-billed gull around which I wrote about.

The black-headed gull is missing from guidebook maps of Libya except for the far north west over 1,000 kilometres away. Its difficult to see how they have remained so under-reported. Certainly the UN winter bird count picks them up every year. These birds almost certainly come from eastern Europe escaping the cold.  They are great scavengers and can be seen in-land too.

a smaller group of slender-billed gull and black headed gull

Slender-billed gull may include some local breeders either way they haven't travelled so far as the black headed gull. They are more wedded to the coast.

Ironically yellow legged gull is known to certainly breed near-by but was the rarest of the three main gull species present.

little egret, Ain Azziana

Once again there were plenty of little egret around. Its beginning to look like they will stay all winter in this place.
grey heron, Ain Azziana

I had speculated recently that grey heron had mostly moved on or dispersed and that this may be symptomatic of the whole northern coast.

it looks like I might be wrong about moving south because I found a dozen or so at Ain Azziana this time and if you add that to the small number at Garyounis last week (and at Buduzeera which I will blog in the next few days), it looks like dispersal is more likely.

The ones at Ain Azziana were simply more sheltered - not in the open. I found them when I ventured deeper into the waterlogged meadows!  They don't seem as hardy as the little egret and cattle egret which were also present.

great grey shrike

Most of the usual land birds were also present. The ubiquitous great grey shrike wouldn't normally merit a picture if this one hadn't  flown straight towards me.

Of the wintering birds there were a large number of starling but the reed bunting away seem to have moved.


It proved once again an easy place to see wintering bluethroat as well as the less exotic chiffchaff and stonechat.

marsh harrier

All the passerines seem to have attracted marsh harrier again . There were three here this time. There are marsh harrier around most but surprisingly not every time I visit. I still haven't worked out why I don't see adult males in winter. I'd like to solve this mystery.

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