Some recent Libyan research

Some recent research on Libyan birds


BREHME, S., J. HERING and E. FUCHS (2009): Nachtaktivität von Fahlseglern Apus pallidus im Zentrum von Tripoli/Libyen. – Ornithol. Mitt. 61: 266-268.

BREHME, S., J. HERING and  E. FUCHS (2010): Beginnende Ausbreitung der Türkentaube Streptopelia decaocto im Westen Libyens. – Vogelwelt 130: 195-199.

English abstract of the paper:

On 24th March 2009, two adult Collared Doves were observed in the area of the Wadi Berdjuj radial oasis. The birds, probably paired, were within a grain silo complex surrounded by Eucalyptus trees. A second pair was probably present as well. A second occurrence was recorded in the administrative part of the Wadi Maknusa agricultural project area. At least three Collared Doves were calling in large Eucalyptus trees. The search for the birds at other locations in Fezzan and Tripolitania was unsuccessful. The detailed observations described here, following a first Libyan record near Ghadames in 2005, represent two further records in the south-west of the country, both some 500 km distant from the first record. The subject of area expansion, as well as its relation to the settlement of southern Tunisia by the species, is discussed. In view of the ideal habitat conditions the expansion of the Collared Dove probably follows that of the Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis, which began to take over the radial oasis regions in south-west Libya some 20 years ago.

BREHME, S., J. HERING and  E. FUCHS (2010): Zum Vorkommen der Sumpfohreule Asio flammeus in Libyen. (Occurrence of the Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus in Libya).– Vogelwelt 130: 189-194.

English Abstract from the paper:

From 22nd to 25th of March 2009 we observed up to three Short-eared Owls at their daytime roost at the radial oasis complex of Wadi Berdjuj in Fezzan/SW-Libya and collected their pellets. Other sightings were made from 25th to 27th March in the cultivated area in Wadi Maknusa. The birds were perched in old acacia and eucalyptus trees and in date palms. The maximum daily total was eight individuals. Numerous pellets were collected here as well. In addition to the current observations this article also mentions all other previous Libyan records. It is thereby clear that our observations represent the highest number of gathered individuals recorded to date, not only for Libya but also for Algeria and Tunisia. The reasons for these occurrences and the seasonal distribution of sightings are discussed.

HERING, J. (2008): Duschende Störche und Fütterung bei 50° C: Weißstörche in der Zentralsahara entdeckt! – Falke 55: 390-394.

HERING, J. (2009): Beitrag zur Wintervogelwelt Libyens. – Vogelwarte 47: 5-22.

English extract from the paper:
During a trip to Libya from 25.12.2007 to 15.1.2008, which concentrated on visits to sites in Fezzan, a total of 96 bird specieswere recorded of which 76 are discussed in more detail in this article. The article is concerned with evaluation of observations which there is either no or only sparse information in the relevant literature. A table contains details of first records, maximum numbers etc. for Libya or Fezzan respectively.

The results clearly show that parts of the country are of great importance as passage and winter quarters for several European bird species, a fact not previously recognised. Above all, the water bodies and wetlands in the Fezzan oases, which lie in the east central Sahara, offer good rest and wintering conditions for water birds and are still today an underestimated habitaton the migration route of palaearctic bird species. In addition to the strongly anthropogenic character of the human settled oases, isolated in the open desert, the crater oasis Wau an Namus with its salt lakes appear to have a special significance in this context. A numerous flock of Black-necked Grebe, which in such large numbers had not before been observed in the Sahara,deserves special mention. In addition the first record of Garganey for the Fezzan region, several calling Water Rail, and probably the largest wintering population of Common Coot in the Libyan Desert are remarkable. The extensive beds of Phragmites are also of importance as winter quarters for various passerines. !e most common species were Chiffchaff, Bluethroat and Sardinian Warbler.

A further surprise was the observation of 650-700 White Stork and 130 Common Kestrel on the circular agricultural areas near Maknusa. Such large concentrations in North Africa in winter for these species have not previously been recorded. It is assumed that a wintering area for large numbers of White Stork individuals has become established This record is possibly an indication of the increasing number of short-distancemigrants among some of the trans-Sahara migrating bird species. Other species can also be expected to winter here in large numbers as was demonstrated, amongst other examples, by a sighting of 100-120 Red-throated Pipits.

Several wetlands in the Fezzan oases were also monitored, and the importance of these as wintering area for various water bird species can only be conjectured. This is indicated for example by not only the record of at least 60 Common Snipe and many calling Water Rail near Bergin, which are new record numbers for Libya, but also a series of first winter records of various wader species for the Fezzan region and the presence of Reed Warbler and Bluethroat.

Finally, the need to catch up on special field studies on the passage and rest of palaearctic migrant bird species in the Libyan Sahara is discussed. Of particular importance is the mapping of the most important ornithological areas. Above all conservation efforts must not be ignored as many of the oasis habitats, in particular the freshwater areas and their vegetation, are gravely threatened by dumping of rubbish and other material.

HERING, J. (2010): Ein Überwinterungsplatz in der Sahara: Kormorane in der Wüste. – Falke 57, Sonderheft: 42-44.

HERING, J. (2010): Leukistischer Schwarzhalstaucher Podiceps nigricollis auf einem Gewässer in der Zentralsahara. – Ornithol. Mitt. 62: 25.

HERING, J. and H. HERING (2009): Der Wüstenvulkan Wau an Namus – ein unbekanntes Überwinterungsgebiet in der Zentralsahara. – Falke 56: 27-29.

HERING, J. and E. FUCHS (2008): Später Fund eines Seggenrohrsängers in Libyen. – Falke 55: 483.

HERING, J. and E. FUCHS (2010): Mixed breeding colony of Little Egret Egretta garzetta and Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis in Benghazi, Libya. – Alauda 78: 149-152.

First few lines of the paper:

in a visit to Lake Bu Tesira in the eastern part of Benghazi city (coord. 32.10 N, 20.07 E, 1 m ASL, Cyrenaica, Libya) on 26 May 2008 we discovered a mixed egret colony consisting of Little Egret Egretta garzetta and Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

HERING, J., E. FUCHS and S. BREHME (2009): Weißstörche (Ciconia ciconia) in der Zentralsahara – abseits bekannter Brut- und Rastplätze. – Vogelwarte 47: 309-310.

HERING, J., E. FUCHS and S. BREHME (2010): First breeding record and passage of the Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus in Libya. – Bull. African Bird Cl. 17: 82-84.

HERING, J., S. BREHME and E. FUCHS (2009): Abseits bekannter Brut- und Rastplätze: Weißstörche (Ciconia ciconia) in der Zentralsahara [Kurzfassungen der Vorträge und Posterbeiträge]. – Programm 142. Jahresversammlung der DO-G: 41.

HERING, J., S. BREHME, E. FUCHS and H. WINKLER (2009): Zimtrohrsänger Acrocephalus baeticatus und „Mangroverohrsänger“ A. scirpaceus avicenniae erstmals in der Paläarktis – Irritierendes aus den Schilfröhrichten Nordafrikas. – Limicola 23: 202-232.

HERING, J., S. BREHME, E. FUCHS and H. WINKLER (2010): African Reed Warblers and Mangrove Reed Warblers in Libya and Egypt – both new to the Western Palearctic. – Birding World 23: 218-219.

minature copy of african reed warbler article sent by Jens Hering

Water bird research (much based on the UN's winter bird counts)

Final report on a fourth winter ornithological survey in Libya 20-31 January 2008

by Abdulmaula Hamza, Almokhtar Saied, Essam Bourass, Jaber Yahya, Michael Smart, Nicola Baccetti, Pierre Defos du Rau, Habib Dlensi and Hichem Azfzaf
United Nations Environment Programme, the Meditterrean Action Plan, Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas September 2008

K. S. Etayeb and M. F. A. Essghaier, 2007. Breeding of marine birds on Farwa Island, Western Libya. Ostrich, 78 (2): 419 – 421.

Khaled Etayeb, Mohamed Feisal Essghaier, Abdulmaula Hamza, Michael Smart, Hichem Azafzaf, Pierre Defos du Rau and Habib Dlensi, 2007. Report on an Ornithological Survey in Libya from 3 to 15 February 2007. EGA-AEWA-RAC/SPA-MAP-UNEP. Pp46.

H. Azafzaf, N. Baccetti, P. Defos du Rau, H. Dlensi, M.F.A. Essghaier, K.S. Etayeb, A. Hamza, M. Smart, 2006. Wetlands and wintering water birds in Libya in January 2005 and 2006. Wildfowl, 56: 172 – 191.

Hichem Azafzaf, Khaled Etayeb & Abdulmaula Hamza, 2006. Report on the census of Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis in the Eastern coast of Libya. (1-7 August 2006). EGA, RAC/SPA-MAP-UNEP. Pp 31.

Azafzaf H, Baccetti N, Defos du Rau P, Dlensi H, Essghaier MFA, Etayeb Kh, Hamza A & Smart M .2005: Wintering Cormorants in Libya. Wetlands International Cormorant Resarch Group Bulletin No. 6. 46-48.

Bruno Masso et al
Remark on the importance of scattered vegetation in desert areas of Libya for migrating and breeding birds.
Bruno Massa; Marta Visentin
Riv. Ital. Orn. Milano 75(2) 141-158 30-XI-2006

English Abstract – Some authors suggested that there is no single optimal trans-Saharan migratory strategy, but possibly a variety of strategies, including: non-stop, stopover carrying minimal fat but with frequent refuelling, stopover without refuelling.

Migrants, indeed, cannot refuel when crossing the Sahara, the only opportunities being the oases scattered in the desert. The presence of such large numbers of birds in oases or “islands” and “corridors” of vegetation in the middle of the desert implies the need to ensure a no risk stop. The authors carried out four visits in the desert areas of Libya, finding that areas covered by vegetation are more important for diurnal migrant birds
in spring than in autumn. When, in autumn, birds reach the desert, they have not covered many kilometres and still store a good amount of subcutaneous fat, acquired during the Mediterranean crossing, whereas in spring they reach oases and other vegetated islands” in the middle of the desert, after a long flight and may find themselves with scarce fat supplies; this is in line with the high availability of insects in desert areas with vegetation in spring and scarcity in autumn.

Assuming the high importance for migratory birds of the above mentioned areas of vegetation scattered throughout the Libyan desert and the presence of “oases” in the Sahara desert, the long term conservation of these areas should be ensured to protect birds breeding in Europe and wintering in Africa. This would obviously cross the borders of individual countries’ interests and authorities. Very few desert sites are listed as Important Bird Areas, and the authors therefore propose to include among them Germa lakes and Waw el Namus in the Libyan desert. Evidence for the degradation of staging sites on either side of the Sahara suggests that conservation plans are needed which take into account the needs of migrant birds; oases and new areas of irrigation may provide increasingly important feeding stations during bird migrations, resembling islands within a desert sea; countries involved should assume their international responsibilities in bird conservation; European countries, in turn, could invest in research projects and ecological restoration programs in African desert areas.

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