Wednesday 8 December 2010

Wintering herons and others at Garyounis

By some fluke of the academic calendar I got half a days holiday on Tuesday  (yesterday) which was the Islamic New year - not one full day but a half day!

There was just enough time to pop down to the permanent wetlands near Garyounis which I have visited throughout the year. It is my nearest wetland, hidden away but quite close to the middle of the city

Despite development pressure intensifying everyday it is still good birding. Furthermore, it has been swollen since my last visit by winter rains.

swollen wetland at Garyounis

There were more species present on Tuesday than I have ever seen before. So many that I have split the report into three blogs - ducks, waders and others. Today the others star.

squacco heron (bottom left) , coot and black wing stilt at Garyounis

Almost immediately after I arrived I saw a squacco heron. I have seen squacco heron at this site in every month since I arrived in Benghazi (May this year). This is not bad for a bird that Collin's guide records as only a passage bird in Libya.

If you follow this blog you'll know I have seen it elsewhere in summer but this is my best recorded place. I think we can now claim its resident (as well as some passage and probably some who are just summer breeders!).

young (second winter) grey heron, Garyounis

I haven't seen any big flocks of grey heron for six weeks or so but this time I saw two young grey heron. I wonder if the larger flocks have dispersed or moved south. Either way there are clearly some wintering birds seen by me and regularly each year by the UN winter census.

Near the water there were plenty of other species. Bluethroat are abundant. I saw one reed bunting to add to my flock sighting last week at Ain Azziana.

bluethroat, Garyounis

Large numbers of meadow pipit, stonechat and chiffchaff were in the surrounding fields. There were small numbers of black redstart too.

A very large flock of wintering skylark vastly out numbered the residential crested lark.

hoopoe , Garyounis

Finally I must report I saw hoopoe again. Like squacco heron, it is described in Collins guide as a passage bird in Libya. Last year I saw them all year round in Tripolitania. It looks like they are resident all year round in Cyrenaica too.

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