Saturday 15 January 2011

Labyar is the place for ravens

I went to Labyar yesterday morning because it has another "dirty water" lake and a stork population (over- wintering situation unknown) . So superficially it looked a very similar prospect to the wonderfully birding I had had at Old Marj the week before. Furthermore Labyar is closer to Benghazi where I live.

However it didn't turn out to be similar at all. The stork nests are no where near the lake and the lake is much smaller and there are no reeds there to help clean the water.

Nevertheless I did enjoy the birding even though it wasn't what I expected!

common raven at Labyar

The first birding revelation is that the area near the "lake" has the largest population of common raven I have ever seen. I must have seen at least 12 in an hour and a half. I thought these birds were supposed to have large territories.

There were so many (though they weren't in a flock - mostly pairs) I had to do a double take to make sure they weren't brown necked raven.   You may be able to see in the photo above there is no brown neck. Other records I have show the very thick bill of common raven

common raven flying off

I think the large numbers were because the "lake" is in the town's tip area or maybe there is an unseen abattoir near-by. 

lone black winged stilt at "lake"

At the water I saw one lone black winged stilt, four common snipe (they are very numerous in Libya in winter)  and a family of moorhen.  This haul is two or three orders of magnitude less than at Old Marj. But that's part of the beauty of Libyan bird watching - there is no "where to find birds" guide. You don't know for sure what you will see (or not).

cattle egret at Labyar

Many of the other birds seen were typical of "tips". Cattle egret were present and I noticed that breeding plumage is starting to develop. White wagtail was everywhere.

white wagtail at Labyar

I saw a flock of starling. I took a picture (see below) because I noticed (at one stage)  three birds had all the space on a wire to them selves but chose to sit right next to each other. That's what I call a flocking bird.

three common starling on a wire

Everyone of the few bushes around had a chiffchaff.

little owl

The final bird of the "tip" was a little owl. This is only the second time I have seen one in Cyrenaica (I saw many near Tripoli when I lived there). Both Cyreniacan birds were in rubbish tips. The first I saw was at Gamines and now Labyar.  It doesn't say anything in the main guides about this being a favoured habitat!

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