Monday 13 December 2010

Wintering waders at Ain Azziana

I returned to Ain Azziana last Friday after a gap of two weeks. There were once again an increase in the number of birds if not species. 

The water level was a bit lower than two weeks ago when it had just rained. The muddy areas now exposed (but not dried out) seem to have attracted more waders possibly because they contain food.

the resident camel herd at Ain Azziana

One of my prize sightings was not actually on the mud flats but in a waterlogged ditch.  It was a wood sandpiper.  Most birds winter south of the Sahara but once again this is a species where some chose to stay in Libya.

wood sandpiper, Ain Azziana

This makes Libya on a par with one or two other spots on the southern Mediterranean coast and I am sure guidebooks will recognise this in the future now that more is becoming known about Libya.

black-tailed godwit with flock of dunlin and other waders flying over-head

Black tailed godwit has been a relatively common sight this winter even though it is normally found only in ones and twos. This still life photo (sic) was interrupted by a flock of dunlin (and a couple of common redshank) flying  over-head.

I also saw a single curlew (which may be part of a larger group hidden away in the marshes). There were plenty of common snipe here too. I hadn't realised before that they can found a kind of loose flock (or cluster) when they are in cover.

ringed plover, Ain Azziana

Two other waders were more numerous probably as a result of the newly exposed mud flats. These were ringed plover and turnstone. Most guidebooks (including the best which in my opinion is Collins) miss out ringed plover from its Libyan maps.

three turnstone, Ain Azziana

Not far from the turnstone was a very large mixed flock of gulls which I will blog about tomorrow along with all the other non-waders at Ain Azziana. I think you will find what I have to say is really interesting.

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