Wednesday 12 January 2011

Land birds at Marj

While I visited the water complex at Old Marj primarily to see the water birds this didn't stop me noticing land birds too.

As always in winter where there are bushes near water I saw many chiffchaff.

chiffchaff at Old Marj

It never ceases to amaze me how varied chiffchaff can be. The one above had the dark legs and weak supercillium of a chiffchaff but it under colours were much more like your average willow warbler. 

chiffchaff at Old Marj

Willow warbler make their return passage very early in northern Libya. Indeed many stay a week or two before moving on north. I would expect to see the first ones in about 5 weeks time. The spring passage is not far way.

Before I move on from warblers, I must tell you this is a great place to see reed warbler. They are present in winter and are presumably african reed warbler now known to breed in Libya thanks to work by Jens Hering.

flock of local goldfinch

There is no doubt that the all year round water and the bushes and trees  attracts more bird species than most of Libya.  Part of a flock of goldfinch is shown above.

plenty of linnet here

When I first saw the flock of linnet I dint instantly recognise them. They were directly into the sun and my ability to identify using songs and calls is still poor.

As soon as they moved out into the trees I knew. Actually the last time I saw them was at Ras Al Hilal and they were sitting on wires there too.

closer view of two linnet

Linnet is not as common as chaffinch and goldfinch in Cyrenaica so it was a pleasure to see them.

I still haven't seen a single siren in Cyrenaica since I arrived in May. It is the most common finch in north west Libya. It is in the guide books as resident in both areas but I am pretty sure its not in Cyrenaica in summer - certainly not in any numbers. There is no doubt that tourists have seen it while visiting the Ancient city of Cyrene because they have reported it. However all their reports have been in winter which is the tourism season. Furthermore, I haven't been birding in Shahat/Cyrene this winter. Logic suggests it is therefore a winter visitor in that area.

One final land bird I want to blog about is hoopoe. Once again it is found in a wetter area where there is a good supply of ground insects.

hoopoe at Old Marj

Tomorrow I am going to look at the birds of prey that the area attracts.

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