Tuesday 8 March 2011

A last look for sometime at Jebel Akhdar

This may not be my best blog on Libyan birds but sadly it will be my last one for some time. 

Just before the uprising started I visited the Jebel Akhdar in the second week in February. It is very green this year as rainfall has been higher than usual. This blog is about the Marowah area. It's towards the top of Jebel Ahkdar at about 650 metres.

a forest next to the town of Marowah

My first stop in the area was in a small forest right next to the town.. It is a typical forest of the area and I am fairly sure it is artificially planted. There were only cypress trees. This type of artificial forest doesn't have much diversity of bird species. Indeed in this forest I only saw goldfinch and heard chaffinch.

goldfinch singing at Marawah

The goldfinch above was singing its heart out for several minutes. In this sort of forest in Tripolitania you are bound to see many serin but once again I failed to see any in Cyrenaica. I am very confident in saying that serin is one of the very few birds which is over-reported in Libya by Collins. 

chaffinch near Qandulah

Another forest near Qandulah was quite similar with chaffinch and goldfinch but it held at least one wintering robin too which alluded my camera.

kestrel at a wadi near Marowah

The best birding in this high plateau area was not in a forest at all.

Most of the high plateau area is wind swept and not too fertile however there area few fertile wadi valleys which have been taken over for growing crops. One of these just east of Marowah had the best birding in the area - at least at this time of year.

Here I saw barn swallow and alpine swift. The former were almost certainly on passage. However the latter are probably resident in the area. 

There are plenty of kestrel (and common raven) in the upper reaches of the Jebel Akhdar. One kestrel at this particular wadi caught my attention. It stayed perched on a wire for a long time. I took this as a sign that the area had plenty of small birds.

linnet at a wadi near Marowah

Sure enough as well as barn swallow and alpine swift there was a large flock of linnet as well as a few laughing dove.

meadow pipit at wadi near Marowah

I took a close look at the pipits in the fields. Some were on the wires too. I had to check that they were wintering meadow pipit rather than passage tree pipit particularly as tree pipit more regularly perch on wires than meadow pipit. I am pretty sure they were meadow pipit though.

This wadi looked a good location to find passage birds and I had planned to go back there during March. I am sure it would hold tree pipit and yellow wagtail at very least. Alas I don't think I will be there to see them there or any other place in Libya for that matter. 

My next blogs will probably be about Bulgarian birds (where I have a home) or Namibian and Botswanan birds where I am taking a holiday in the near future.

Stay tuned.

Friday 4 March 2011

Pipits and regimes

On 17th February, the very same day as the old regime lost control of Benghazi, Pim Wolf commented on a previous blog about a meadow pipit seen by some birding friends at Wadi Kaam near Tripoli. Pim thought the pipit might be a bluff bellied pipit rather than a meadow pipit.

Unfortunately the regime cut mt internet connection before I posted some extra pictures of the pipit.

Although I have been evacuated from Libya, I am honour bound to post that blog. A delusional leader will not stop me from posting what was an ordinary day to day blog!

pipit meadow or bluff bellied?

Pim said "In your last post there is a picture of a Meadow Pipit that looks a bit "off" It could just be me but the streaking on the flanks, the shape and blackness of the breast spots and malar region as well as the semi-plain back and pale lores all remind me of Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit (japonicus). Worth a second look I think"

meadow pipit or buff bellied?

What do you think? I have no experience of bluff bellied pipit but I looked at Collins and can see Pim's point.

another picture of the pipit

Please reply to me or post comments. I would love it to be buff bellied but not as much as I want to see a united free Libya that cares for its people and the environment.