Thursday 23 December 2010

Second look at Al Thama

Actually its not so much a second look as a fourth or fifth but it was the second look within five days.

I promised myself last Friday I would go back and see on my day off (yesterday) before I set off to my Bulgarian home today.

There is a very busy Friday market near parts of Al Thama which made approaching part of Thama very difficult hence my need to return.

cormorants at Al Thama, Dec 22

I am glad I did go because it cleared up some misconceptions I had had. For example when I blog on Al Thama earlier this week I had said that the island where little tern, kentish plover and black winged stilt bred had been re-landscaped. Well given that I could walk on to the island via the narrow causeway I found that only a small amount had been flatten probably by lorry movements but that 90% is still natural. Without disturbance those birds could breed again.

There is a picture of the island below:

natural island in one of the Al Thama lakes 

Yesterday's section of the Al Thama complex had more birds than that visited on Friday although the whole complex is in need of replanting (or allowing nature to re-grow) very quickly. 

There were at least 50 cormorant. Of course, these may be some of the same cormorant that I saw and blogged about at near-by Buduzeera a couple of weeks ago.

grey heron flying over Al Thama

The biggest surprise for me was the sight of 40 or so grey heron. This solved another mystery for me. Two months ago i saw many grey heron at Ain Azziana and Deryanah but they had mostly disappeared. I had speculated that they had dispersed or moved south.

The few I had seen were usually sheltering in reeds. This shouldo have been a clue to me. It looks like in full winter they prefer slightly inland sites like Al Thama possibly because they are less exposed. The numbers at Al Thama lead meto  conclude there are as many in the Benghazi area as in late September and October. 

grey heron and cormorant on natural island

If you look carefully at the grey heron in the above photo you can see that two are stained (in the middle and at the back). One may be the bird (then at Ain Azzziana) that I blogged about in October. If so, s/he has survived. The worrying thing is there are definitely two affected birds.

black necked grebe

There were several yellow legged gull as well as black headed gull around. The population of black necked grebe continues to increase though the numbers in north east Libya appear much less than in north west Libya (which I saw last winter).

There were precoius few waders. This was just like in the other part of Al Thama visited on Fridday and very unlike the situation at Al Thama before the renovation work began.

I'd like to say a few words about the land birds. These are mostly those who like rocky ground - notably stonechat and black redstart. Though I did see my first flock of spanish sparrow in the city. This bird certainly roams in winter. I only see house sparrow in summer.

stonechat, Al Thama

I have noticed that I don't see many stonechat in their non-breeding plumage anymore. Some birds seem to be getting ready for spring already.

black redstart, Al Thama

The black redstart are still mostly in winter plumage.

The shortest day has been and gone. The spring passage will be upon us before we know it.

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