Sunday 9 January 2011

Storks and herons at Marj

I keep coming across first winter black crowned night heron. I have seen them at Wadi al Khalij (east of Derna) and at Brega.

On Friday I saw 15 more at Old Marj. This is yet another under-reported bird in Libya. The guide books give it a blank.

When I saw the birds at Wadi al Khalij in late October (see blog) I mused whether they would stay the winter like those in the Nile Delta or move south like the majority of the European population.  

one of the black crowned night heron at Old Marj

Well, certainly in the case of the Old Marj birds it looks like they have stayed the winter. I am not surprised.

They were not the only members of the heron family at Old Marj. The more common cattle egret were plentiful - especially around cattle!

a cattle egret at Old Marj

There were at least six little egret in the area too. They preferred the part of the water complex with the cleaner water (once it has flown through the reeds and out the other side).  

stork nests at Old Marj

Near-by are the white stork nests. Old Marj is home to the largest colony of stork in Libya (closely followed by Al Abyar). Though I am sure there must be at least one more undiscovered colony because the number of birds grazing at Jardinah government farm in summer is more than the total of these two colonies.

more stork nests at Old Marj

I am told by the deputy manage of Jardinah farm that he has not seen any storks since October so I had assumed that Libyan breeding storks had migrated south probably to one of the southern Libyan government farms in the desert where Jens Hering reported in the literature last year as seeing many hundreds of wintering white stork.

a wintering stork at Old Marj

However while I was at Old Marj I saw two white stork! Unfortunately I couldn't reach my camera in good time and only got the above picture. So it looks like north east Libyan white stork are like those in southern Portugal - some of them either over-winter or come back early. I can't tell which. I wish I had been there in November to know. 


  1. Dear Robert
    Yes we have two places for White stork nests in east of LIBYA(Cyrenica),(one in Old of Al MARJ ,second in AL ABYAR)and we saw White stork in AL MARJ the of the winter last years .
    Jaber Yahya

  2. hi rob and jaber ; i think a ringing program could for sure help to understand the local and regional movements of white storks of libya similar ringing programs underway in morocco

  3. Thanks Jaber, I thought over-wintering was more likely than early returning

    Abdulmoula, ringing of Libyan birds would be a great idea. Also we could look at any rings on the hundreds of white stork which winter in the desert farms at Kufra and Wadi Maknusah