Thursday 9 December 2010

Winter waders at Garyounis

During much of the year there are three main waders at the wetland near Garyounis, Benghazi. These are breeding kentish plover, black winged stilt and even common redshank. The latter surprises some people because it is one of its most southerly breeding places.

In winter there are higher numbers of these birds so there must be some net immigration. 

kentish plover with dunlin, Garyounis, December 7th

The three birds are joined in winter by a significant number of other species, some of which I have blogged about before (see previous blogs). On Tuesday  I saw a couple of common sandpiper there (and not as  usual - green sandpiper).  

common sandpiper, near beach at Garyounis

This common sandpiper was very tired. My guess is that it had just arrived having decided its previous wintering quarters further north were no longer satisfactory.  He was lucky he chose a beach this far west.  In the far east of the country there is a greater hunting tradition (like in Egypt) targeting tired birds on the beaches even though it is illegal.

Common sandpiper is documented in the new Collins guide map as wintering in sub- Saharan Africa and virtually all the north African coast except Cyrenaica. This is another case of under-reporting. It is here (Cyreniaca) just as much as it is every where else on the southern Mediterranean coast.

common redshank

The common redshank was difficult to photograph. For most of the time they made their usual screaming noise as soon as I got anywhere near. In the end they relaxed and allowed some shots.

black winged stilt

Another noisy bird which is also resident is black winged stilt. Once again Collins guide has this as only a passage bird in the country whereas in reality it is a common breeder along both the north west and particularly the north east coasts.

Much quieter than both common redshank and black winged stilt is common snipe. I have reported this bird here earlier this winter and is is still here. After all the weather has hardly changed. It simply hasn't got cold yet this winter. 

I will tell you in my next blog about a duck which has arrived at Garyounis which only comes to us when Europe has a big freeze. It has arrived!  

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