22nd April 1985 - 18th May 1985.
A combined birdwatching tour and sound recording trip, firstly co-leading a group with Mike Kendall from 22nd April to 4th May, and as the group departed I was joined by Dave Tombs to sound record in many of the same areas, from 5th to 18th May. New species for me will be in bold, good birds for the trip will be underlined.
The previous evening we had travelled east from Tunis Airport to our hotel in Kelibia, on the Cap Bon peninsula.
The hotel overlooked the beach and out to sea, where we saw c40 Yellow-legged Gulls, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Shelduck, a Cormorant, around 40 Cory's now spilt and called Scopoli's Shearwaters, 9 Gannets, several Balearic Shearwaters, a Slender-billed Gull, a Gull-billed Tern, 2 Sandwich Terns, a Kittiwake, a Black-headed Gull, 3 Great Skuas and 2 Swallows.
We drove north to the ancient site at Kerkouane where we saw House Sparrows, North African Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Swallows, 3 Hoopoes, 4 Goldfinches, 2 Blue Tits now split and called African Blue Tit, 4 Serins, 2 Sardinian Warblers, another 20 or so Scopoli's Shearwaters, a Corn Bunting, 2 Crested Larks, a Pied Flycatcher, a Blackcap, a Cirl Bunting, 3 Blackbirds, 4 Fan-tailed Warblers, 4 Swifts and a Wren.
On the way back to Kelibia we stopped at Dar Chichou Woods seeing 20+ Serins, 3 Pied Flycatchers, a Spur-thighed Tortoise, a Nightingale, a Sardinian Warbler and 6 Bee-eaters.
Then we stopped at a wadi just south of the woodland where there were more Serins, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 7 Spanish Sparrows, a Hoopoe, 2 Bee-
eaters, 3 Crested Larks, a Semi-collared Flycatcher and 3 Sardinian Tunisian Green Frog
Back in Kelibia we visited a pool by the beach seeing 6 Garganey, 5 Black-headed Gulls, a Slender-billed Gull, a Kestrel, a Sandwich Tern, a Little Bittern, 2 Lesser Crested Terns, a Caspian Tern, 100+ Scopoli's Shearwaters, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, a Palm Dove, 2 Sand Martins, 2 House Martins, 10 Little Stints, 2 Kentish Plovers and a Ringed Plover.
In the afternoon we drove south, at Menzil Temim we saw 2 Spotless Starlings, then we spent the rest of the day at a lake near M'laabi, where we saw 3 Palm Doves, 20+ Sand Martins, 8 Bee-eaters, 6 Great Crested Grebes, about 10 Coot, 20 Little Egrets, 3 Squacco Herons, 10 Little Grebes, 30 Moorhens, 100+ Garganey, a Grey Heron, a Little Ringed Plover, a Cattle Egret, 3 Night Herons, 2 Tunisian Green Frogs, a Black Tern, 8 Kittiwakes, lots of Serins, a Little Bittern, a Collared Flycatcher, lots of Spanish Sparrows, Crested Larks and 2 Stonechats.
Back at the hotel in Kelibia we found an African Green Toad.
On the sea from the hotel we could see a Shelduck, a Shag, 2 Mediterranean Gulls and a Sandwich Tern. We left Kelibia and drove north to Cap Bon, on the way seeing Crested Larks, Spotless Starlings, a Hoopoe, a Southern Grey Shrike and a Marsh Harrier.
In the area near the tip of Cap Bon we saw 2 Kestrels, 4 Rock Doves, lots of Spotless Starlings, Fan-tailed Warblers, Corn Buntings, Palm Doves, Crested Larks, 8 Sardinian Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, heard 4 Quail, a Cape Hare, 2 Linnets, a Whitethroat and a Marsh Harrier.
Then we drove to El Haouaria seeing 9 Ravens, Serins, 2 Nightingales, 2 Pied Flycatchers and a large, green Tunisian Eyed Lizard. On our journey towards Korbous we stopped to look at 2 Barbary Partridges, also seeing a Marsh Harrier and 2 Short-toed Eagles.
In the gorge at Korbous there were 2 Blue Rock Thrushes, a Pied and a Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Rock Doves, 4 Spanish Sparrows, 2 Sardinian Warblers, a Whinchat and 2 Moussier's Redstarts.
On the drive towards Tunis we saw a Redstart, a Southern Grey Shrike, a Grey Heron with another 3 on a lake north of the city, along with a Little Egret and 4 Kentish Plovers. From our hotel we could hear and see Palm Doves and overhead 500+ Pallid Swifts.
Before leaving Tunis we went to Tunis Park where there were a few ducks, lots of pigeons and lots of Pallid Swifts.
Then we drove south, visiting the Roman Aquaduct near Zagnouan, the ledges and crevices ideal for nesting birds and we watched as a Lanner came in to feed 2 chicks; also there, were 20+ Kestrels, around 20 Lesser Kestrels, 2 Ravens, lots of Spanish Sparrows, 8 Rollers, Fan-tailed Warblers, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks and 2 Bibron's Amagas; flying over we saw a Purple Heron, a Marsh Harrier and 2 Short-toed Eagles.
We continued to Zaghouan and in the national park, south of the town, we saw lots of finches and Spanish Sparrows, 2 African Blue Tits, Sardinian Warblers, 2 Moussier's Redstarts, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Black Kites, 2 Long-legged Buzzards, 3 Alpine Swifts, 2 Booted Eagles and a Black-eared Wheatear.
From there we drove southeast to Sebkha Halk El Menzal, a large lake near the coast north of Sousse, here there was a Little Egret, 16 Blue-headed Wagtails, 8 Little Terns, 6 Lesser Short-toed Larks, 3 Kentish Plovers, 2 Common Sandpipers, 2 Shelduck, a Ringed Plover, a Whinchat, 9 Little Stints, Crested Larks, 6 Black-necked Grebes, 7 Slender-billed Gulls, 4 Avocets, 6 1st summer Little Gulls and about 50 Greater Flamingoes.
Then a long drive south to El Djem or Jem where we visited the famous Roman Amphitheatre, where there were lots of pigeons, Spotless Starlings and Pallid Swifts, thier calls reverbrating around the inside of this ancient site, also there were 6 Kestrels and a Southern Grey Shrike.
Leaving El Djem we drove south to the saltpans at Sfax, where we saw a Black-eared Wheatear, Crested Larks, 2 Hoopoes, 500+ Dunlin, 100+ Little Stints, a Lanner, 2 Redshank, a Whiskered Tern, 300+ Little Terns, 5 Garganey, 2 Ringed Plovers, c100 Kentish Plovers, 12 Ruff,
29 Slender-billed Gulls, 2,000+ Curlew Sandpipers, 4 Spotted Redshank, 3 Common Sandpipers, 5 Black-winged Stilts, 500+ Avocets, 119 Greater Flamingoes, 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, 118 Spoonbills, 5 Little Egrets, 2 Caspian Terns, 5 Common Terns, 3 Greenshank, 6 Lesser Short-toed Larks, 2 Shelducks, 5 Grey Herons, 4 Great White Egrets, 2 Sanderling, a Wood Sandpiper, a Spotted and a Pied Flycatcher, 6 Sardinian Warblers and a Whinchat.
We continued south stopping at the Oued El Akarit seeing 2 Squacco Herons, a Grey Wagtail, a Common Sandpiper, a Black-eared Wheatear, 5 Bee-eaters and a Melodious Warbler.
The next stop was Oued El Melah where there were 2 Little Terns, a Green Sandpiper, 2 Whinchats, 6 Willow Warblers, 2 Kentish Plovers, 2 Common Sandpipers, a Marsh Harrier, 3 Little Egrets, 2 Shoveler, 38 Garganey, c100 Swallows, 10 Sand Martins, a Redstart, a Kestrel, a Purple Heron and a Sedge Warbler.
We continued to our hotel in Gabes which was full of Spanish Sparrows.
Spanish Sparrow at Gabes.
Again around the hotel in Gabes were lots of Spanish Sparrows, a few Palm Doves and about 30 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
We drove west to El Hamma and had a walk along the mainly dry river bed, seeing 3 Moorhens, c40 flava wagtails, 2 Olivaceous Warblers, 2 Willow Warblers, c50 Bee-eaters, a Water Rail, 2 Little Bitterns, 2 Reed Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Common and 3 Green Sandpipers, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, an Ashy-headed Wagtail, 4 Wood Sandpipers, a Squacco Heron, 2 Moussier's Redstarts, a Redstart and a Little Egret.
Then we turned off the road onto a track heading south into the desert, which we called the El Hamma Track, and followed it to our camp at Ksar Rhalane. One of the first things we saw was a group of Dromedary Camels, then the North African race of Mourning Wheatear which has been split and now called Maghreb Wheatear, we also saw a Black Wheatear, 2 Black-eared Wheatears, 8 Red-rumped Wheatears,
7 adult and about 15 juvenile Temminck's Horned Larks and 5 Hoopoe Larks.
On a stop by a well, where there was a herd of goats and several donkeys, on one of the buildings was a male Desert Sparrow, further down the track we saw 3 Cream-coloured Coursers and 2 Bar-tailed Desert Larks.
Ksar Rhalane was a tented camp with some of the tents covered with reeds, the only water was from hot springs which fed the ditch which surrounded the camp, here were the only trees for miles.
After settling in there was time to explore and in a nearby tree had very good views of Desert Sparrows, 3 males and a female, we also saw Palm Doves, a Booted Eagle, 10+ Olivaceous Warblers, 5 Spotted Flycatchers, 4 Whinchats, there were lots of wagtails, at least 70, made up of Blue-headed, Ashy-headed, Grey-headed and Black-headed forms.
Also a Woodchat Shrike, lots of Swallows, a few House Martins and 4 Sand Martins, 2 Wood Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a few Swifts, a Sedge Warbler, a Southern Grey Shrike, 4 Turtle Doves, about 60 Bee-eaters, a Redstart, a Black Kite and the North African race of Wheatear which has been split and is now known as Seebohm's Wheatear, in the ditch were 2 Sahara Frogs.
Red-rumped Wheatear Goats by the well, El Hamma Track.
Desert Sparrow. Camp at Ksar Rhalane.
An early morning start to drive the track back to El Hamma, seeing
6 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, around 50 Spotted Sandgrouse, 5 Southern Grey Shrikes, 8 Fulvous Babblers, a Woodchat Shrike, a Black Kite, a Cape Hare, 4 Lesser Short-toed Larks, lots of Swallows and martins, a Bee-eater, 18 Temminck's Horned Larks, 12 Bar-tailed Desert Larks, 3 flava wagtails, 2 Cream-coloured Coursers, a Crested Lark, a Seebohm's Wheatear, 2 Kestrels, 34 Brown-necked Ravens, 3 Hoopoe Larks, 2 Streaked Scrub-Warblers, a pair of Desert Wheatears and a Black Wheatear.
At the Oued El Hamma we walked along the river bed again, going further this time, where we saw a Marsh Harrier, 9 Moorhens, 3 Little Bitterns, a Redstart, 2 Willow Warblers, a Great Reed Warbler, 10 Sand Martins, 3 Common Sandpipers, 11 Black-headed and Ashy-headed Wagtails, Swallows, Spanish Sparrows, 11 Wood Sandpipers, 5 Little Ringed Plovers, c20 Bee-eaters, 2 Water Rails, a Blackcap, a Whitethroat, a pair of Subalpine Warblers, 2 Squacco Herons, 6 Kentish Plovers, 2 Ruff, 9 Little Stints, a Grey Heron, 4 Turtle Doves, a male Little Crake, a Greenshank, a Little Egret, a Spotted Redshank, 12 Buzzards, a Honey Buzzard.
On the return journey along the El Hamma Track to Ksar Rhalane there were 4 Cream-coloured Coursers, 3 Seebohm's Wheatears, 6 Crested Larks, 6 Black Wheatears, 3 House Buntings, a Desert Lark and 3 Rock Doves.
Temminck's Horned Lark.
We left Ksar Rhalane driving quickly back to the main road and headed west, stopping at Oued Er Rebaieb where there were 25 Black-bellied Sandgrouse, 2 Turtle Doves, a Black Kite, a Grey Heron, a Little Ringed Plover, lots of frogs presumably Sahara, a Melodious Warbler, 2 Bee-eaters, a Honey Buzzard, 2 Kentish Plovers, a Red-throated Pipit, 2 Crested Larks, a Lesser Short-toed Lark, 10 Spotted Sandgrouse, lots of Swallows, 2 Black-headed wagtails, 2 Sedge Warblers and a Wood Warbler.
We continued west, on the maps it shows large lakes in this area, this is very misleading, they are at best flashes and rarely occur, mainly it is just desert.
We stopped at Douz for lunch seeing lots of Spanish Sparrows, a Pied Flycatcher, a Whitethroat and one each of Blue-headed and Black-headed Wagtails.
Then north to Kelibi, on the way seeing 2 Southern Grey Shrikes, a Black Stork, a White Stork, a Kestrel, 2 Fan-tailed Warblers and 2 Bee-eaters.
From Kelibi we drove west to our hotel in Tozeur, where in the hotel grounds we saw 4 Golden Orioles, c25 Bee-eaters, 4 House Buntings,
4 Palm Doves, a Redstart, Spanish Sparrows, a Kestrel and a Little Stint.
A day out in the desert areas from Tozeur, our first stop was at Nefleet Lagoon where we saw 5 Garganey, 5 Kentish Plovers, 5 Little Stints, a Purple Heron, a Black-winged Stilt, 2 Olivaceous Warblers, Swallows,
2 Collared Pratincoles, wagtails and 2 Cream-coloured Coursers.
Then west to a place called Chemsa Oasis where there were 2 Crested Larks, a Hoopoe Lark, a Southern Grey Shrike, 12+ wagtails, c80 Swallows, Palm Doves, 3 Collared Pratincoles, 6 Kentish Plovers, a Greenshank, 2 Spotted Redshank, a Little Ringed Plover, a Wood Sandpiper, a Little Stint, a Kestrel, 10 Swifts, 13 Turtle Doves, 2 Pallid Swifts, 2 House Buntings, a Wood Warbler, a Wryneck, a Bee-eater, 2 Whinchats, a Fat Sand Rat, a Whitethroat, 2 Redstarts and 2 more Cream-coloured Coursers.
On the way to Chebika there was another Hoopoe Lark, 2 Kentish Plovers, 2 Crested Larks, a Stone Curlew, a Bar-tailed Desert Lark, another Cream-coloured Courser, 2 Red-rumped Wheatears and a Desert Wheatear.
At the Chebika Oasis Park there were 11 House Buntings, 3 Long-legged Buzzards, 4 White-crowned Black Wheatears, a Raven, about 35 Bee-eaters, 2 Serins and 2 Black Wheatears.
We continued west into the mountains visiting Tamerza, where we saw
3 more White-crowned Black Wheatears, 2 Subalpine Warblers, a Willow Warbler, 6 Black Wheatears, 6 House Buntings, 2 Lesser Short-toed Larks, a Maghreb Wheatear, 3 Trumpeter Finches, a Long-legged Buzzard, a Seebohm's Wheatear and a Gundi.
On the way back to Tozeur we saw another Maghreb Wheatear, another Hoopoe Lark, 6 Little Stints and 2 Little Ringed Plovers.
Photos: Oasis at Chebika.
Mike Kendall with some of the group.
On an early morning around the hotel in Tozeur, we saw 7 House Buntings, a Golden Oriole, a Nightingale, a Pied and 2 Spotted Flycatchers and a Maghreb Wheatear. After breakfast we drove north stopping at Seldja Gorge where there were 2 Red-rumped Wheatears, 44 House Buntings, a Long-legged Buzzard, a Maghreb Wheatear, 3 Desert Larks, 6 Rock Doves, 6 Little Swifts, a Crag Martin, a Blue Rock Thrush, a Black Wheatear and a Short-toed Eagle.
We continued northeast towards Gafsa, we stopped just before the town, seeing 5 Whinchats, a Woodchat Shrike, about 18 Short-toed Larks, 3 Linnets and a Streaked Scrub Warbler.
From Gafsa we drove north towards Kairouan (Al-Qayrawan) stopping along the way, seeing 6 Southern Grey Shrikes, 2 Woodchat Shrikes, a Garden Warbler, a Whitethroat, a Spotted Flycatcher, Crested Larks, around 10 Thekla Larks, a Cream-coloured Courser, 12 Bee-eaters, 2 Short-toed Larks, Turtle Doves, a Kestrel, 2 Ravens, a Redstart, 2 Desert Larks, a Hoopoe and 2 Blackbirds.
Leaving Kairouan we headed northwest towards the northern part of Djebel Zaghdoud National Park seeing an Egyptian Vulture, c10 Bee-eaters and 8 Black-bellied Sandgrouse.
Towards Metbasta we saw c30 Gull-billed Terns, a White Stork and 6 Collared Pratincoles.
At Metbasta Pool there were 2 Squacco Herons, 6 Little Egrets, a Grey Heron, around 50 Collared Pratincoles, a Hobby, 2 Tawny Pipits, 10 Glossy Ibises, Crested and Thekla Larks, 12 Little Stints, 34 Garganey, 3 White Storks, 150 Wood Sandpipers, 11 Little Ringed Plovers, 9 Kentish Plovers, 9 Ringed Plovers, 48 Gull-billed Terns, 23 Black-winged Stilts, 109 Curlew Sandpipers, c160 Dunlin, 7 Mediterranean Gulls, 4 Spotted Redshanks, 22 Avocets, c550 Ruff, 5 Mallard, 2 Fan-tailed Warblers, a Southern Grey Shrike, a Black-eared Wheatear and 2 Marsh Harriers.
We continued to Zaghouan on the way seeing lots of Crested Larks, Corn Buntings and Spotless Starlings, also a Southern Grey Shrike, a Woodchat Shrike, a Black Kite and a Seebohm's Wheatear.
At Zaghouan we explored the area south of the town seeing 6 Skylarks, masses of Cested Larks and Corn Buntings, lots of Fan-tailed Warblers and Turtle Doves, 5 Black-eared Wheatears, 2 Sardinian Warblers, a Long-legged Buzzard, a Moussier's Redstart, 3 Egyptian Vultures, c30 Alpine Swifts, a Golden Eagle, a Bonelli's Eagle and a Booted Eagle.
Leaving Zaghouan we travelled north to Lake Ichkeul where we spent the rest of the day, a large lake with various habitats which we only covered the southern bank, seeing 8 Marsh Harriers, lots of Corn Buntings, 6 Grey Herons, a Stonechat, 8 Black-eared Wheatears, Fan-tailed Warblers, Skylarks, Great Reed Warblers, 5 Little Egrets, lots of Black-headed Gulls, Yellow-legged Gulls, a Kentish Plover, a Great White Egret, a Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Avocets, 10+ Coot, a Rufous Bushchat or Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Greenfinches, 10 Cattle Egrets, lots of Serins, a Woodchat Shrike, 2 Moussier's Redstarts, 2 Purple Gallinules, 5 Short-toed Eagles, Goldfinches, Sardinian Warblers, a Kingfisher, 3 African Blue Tits, a Wren, Chaffinches, Blackbirds, 4 Night Herons, Turtle Doves, a Wood Warbler, a Bonelli's Eagle, 3 Kestrels,
a Montpellier Snake, lots of Crested Larks, Thekla Larks, 59 White Storks and 4 Egyptian Vultures.
Later, we continued north to our hotel in Bizerte.
As we were leaving the hotel in Bizerte a Honey Buzzard flew over, we headed west along the coast towards Tabarka, along the way seeing 2 Stonechats, 3 Marsh Harriers, 64 Cattle Egrets, a Moussier's Redstart, Crested, Thekla and Short-toed Larks, 9 Booted Eagles, 2 Woodchat Shrikes, 7 Short-toed Eagles, c50 Bee-eaters, Fan-tailed Warblers, 5 Ravens, a Long-legged Buzzard, 2 Black Kites and hearing 4 Nightingales and 2 Quails.
In Tabarka there were 4 Common Bulbuls, a Raven and 4 Pallid Swifts.
Then we took the mountain road south which runs parallel to the Algerian boarder, as the road climbs higher it goes through mixed forest and we saw 2 more Short-toed Eagles, 3 more Long-legged Buzzards, 3 more Booted Eagles, 3 Black Kites, a Stonechat, Chaffinches, Swifts, Great Tits, African Blue Tits, House Martins, 2 Jays and 7 more Ravens, we also had a good view of the distinctive North African race of Great Spotted Woodpecker and heard 2 Nightingales, a Cuckoo, Wrens, 2 Robins and 2 Golden Orioles.
At the highest part of the road, known as Les Chenes, we explored the woodland, seeing another male Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Lavaillant's Green Woodpeckers, more African Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Blackbirds, 4 Short-toed Treecreepers, a Robin, a Whitethroat and 4 of the then North African race of Pied Flycatcher, 3 males and a female, now split and called Atlas Flycatcher.
On the return journey to Bizerte we saw masses of Corn Buntings, 4 Ravens, a Stonechat, 2 Calandra Larks, 4 Bee-eaters, 9 Little Owls and
6 White Storks.
Mike and the groups last day, which we spent at Lake Ichkeul seeing 2 Purple Gallinules, a Marsh Harrier, an adult and an immature Bonelli's Eagle, a Black Kite, a Blue Rock Thrush, 3 Little Egrets, Great Reed Warblers, Sardinian Warblers, a pair of Moussier's Redstarts, 2 Black-eared Wheatears, 86 Night Herons, a Little Owl and heard 2 African Golden Jackals now reclassified as African Golden Wolves.
The group departed early evening and it was late at night before Dave Tombs arrived for the sound recording part of the trip.
We left Bizerte and had a long drive to Gabes. We stopped at some pools south of Tunis where there were 15 Avocets, 2 Shelducks, 5 Greenshank, 2 Ganganey, a Ringed Plover, 2 Kentish Plovers and c20 Little Stints.
We used Gabes as our base and today drove to the El Hamma Track, only visiting the first few miles south as we stopped to record in several places, here we saw 4 Bee-eaters, a House Bunting, 8 Swallows, 3 Turtle Doves, a Black-eared Wheatear, Crested Larks, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Short-toed Eagle and a Booted Eagle.
We returned to the hotel for lunch, in the afternoon we visited Matmata and looked around a troglodyte house.
Then on the way back stopped along the road, where we saw 4 Turtle Doves, 6 Fulvous Babblers, a Black-eared Wheatear, 3 Bee-eaters and a Southern Grey Shrike.
An early start to drive along the Matmata Road, we found a group of 7 Fulvous Babblers which were flying from bush to bush, often keeping hidden but calling regularly. Also seen was a Black-eared Wheatear, a Redstart, a Southern Grey Shrike, 2 Woodchat Shrikes, 2 Icterine Warblers, 6 Turtle Doves, a Palm Dove, a Spotted Flycatcher and Crested Larks.
At Matmata there were 2 Black Wheatears and we found a track heading west, which on our map showed it joining the El Hamma Track, so we set off, it was much further and more difficult than we though! But, we saw 4 Black-eared Wheatears, 6 Black Wheatears, 2 Thekla Larks, Crested Larks, 8 Red-rumped Wheatears, 2 Maghreb Wheatears, 3 Swifts, a Golden Oriole, a Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Desert Wheatears, 2 Cream-coloured Coursers, 2 Bar-tailed Desert Larks, a Rufous Bushchat or Scrub Robin and a Temminck's Horned Lark.
Eventually we found the El Hamma Track and slowly followed it north back to the main road, seeing 10 Red-rumped Wheatears, 10 Bar-tailed Desert Larks, 6 Temminck's Horned Larks, a Maghreb Wheatear, 2 Desert Wheatears, a Desert Lark and 2 Kestrels.
Photos: Right: Fulvous Babblers.
Below: Bar-tailed Desert Lark.
The day was spent recording along the El Hamma Track, near the start of the track we found an almond grove which held lots of larks and wheatears, so we started recording, after a while an old man appeared carrying a large sword, but he was fine, just interested in what we were doing on his land, and, he invited us back to his tent for tea, where we could let him and his family listen to some of the recordings.
After we continued down the track seeing a Maghreb Wheatear, a Black-eared Wheatear, at least 7 Lesser Short-toed Larks, 3 Hoopoe Larks, 4 Bar-tailed Desert Larks, 2 Desert Wheatears, 3 Cream-coloured Coursers, a Southern Grey Shrike, a female Red-footed Falcon, a Kestrel, 3 Turtle Doves, a Collared Pratincole, 5 Red-rumped Wheatears, 3 Black Wheatears, an Icterine Warbler and 2 Desert Wheatears.
Dave Tombs recording along the El Hamma Track.
Our last day in this area and we decided to explore the area south of Gabes, driving firstly to Beni Zelten, then Ain Tounine and Toujane and on to Medenine, during the day we saw lots of Swallows, Lesser Short-toed, Crested and Thekla Larks, Bee-eaters and Palm Doves, also 13 Southern Grey Shrikes, 6 Serins, 2 House Buntings, 4 Black-eared Wheatears, 2 Rock Sparrows, 19 Trumpeter Finches, 2 Brown-necked Ravens, 5 Ravens,
9 Black Wheatears, c19 Fulvous Babblers, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 4 Desert Wheatears and 17 Buzzards.
Desert at Toujane.
Leaving Gabes we travelled the short distance up the coast to the mouth of the Oued Melah, here we spent a couple of hours mainly recording Little Terns of which there were 10, we also saw lots of Swallows, Sand and House Martins, Swifts, Crested Larks, 2 Fan-tailed Warblers, 6 Common Sandpipers, a Marsh Harrier, a Red-rumped Wheatear, 4 Kentish Plovers, a Greenshank, a Purple Heron, a Grey Plover, a Ringed Plover, an Icterine Warbler, 4 Lesser Crested Terns, 2 Common Terns,
2 Ruff, 15 Slender-billed Gulls and a Sandwich Tern.
From there we drove north to El Djem, where we recorded the sounds of lots of Pallid Swifts and Spotless Starlings inside the amphitheatre.
Later continuing to Sousse where we booked into a luxury hotel!
Photos: Right: Dave by car at Oued Melah.
Below: Oued Melah.
Below and right: Dave recording in the amphitheatre at El Djem
A day out from Sousse, we drove west to Sekha Kelbia Lake which wasn't as easy to get to as the map suggests, eventually a local showed us the way, through fields, to the waters edge. There was lots of sound, mainly from the many Short-toed and Calandra Larks singing above us, also a few Lesser Short-toed Larks and masses of Sand Martins over the lake. The lake held a large flock of Greater Flamingoes and we also saw 3 Little Egrets, a Glossy Ibis, c20 Black Terns, 3 Slender-billed Gulls, 2 Little Terns, 2 immature Kittiwakes, Collared Pratincoles, Little Stints, Kentish Plovers, 5 Greenshank, 2 Black-winged Stilts, 2 Ruff, Curlew Sandpipers, 4 Little Ringed Plovers, 4 Avocets and a Stone Curlew. On the lake were Mallard, 2 Shelducks and 122 Garganey and there was a Marsh Harrier over the fields.
Short-toed Lark. Calandra Lark.
Leaving Sousse we had a long drive west to Kasserine, on the way seeing lots of Short-toed Larks, a few Thekla Larks, a Marsh Harrier, a Black Kite, several Southern Grey Shrikes and a Woodchat Shrike.
After checking into our hotel, we had time for a quick visit to
Mt. Chambi, Tunisia's highest mountain, seeing a Booted Eagle, 4 Black Wheatears, 2 Long-legged Buzzards, 6 Serins and a Raven.
From Kasserine we drove south towards Thelepte, seeing a Booted Eagle, then took a track up towards Mt. Chambi seeing Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Serins, a Black-eared Wheatear, 2 Woodlarks and a brief sighting of a Tristram's Warbler and hearing another.
Then we took the road west passing through much the same type of habitat, and saw a male Red-footed Falcon, 3 Ravens, 22+ Crossbills,
a Barbary Partridge, 2 Stock Doves, a Cape Hare, several Great Tits, and eventually we found 5 Tristram's Warblers, 4 males and a female, also seeing a Moussier's Redstart.
Photos:The Mt. Chambi area.
An early start for the long drive north from Kasserine to the Mediterranean coast, on the way to Les Chenes we saw 4 Black-bellied Sandgrouse, a Hoopoe, lots of Calandra Larks and Corn Buntings, 2 Black Kites, 40 Ravens, Stonechats, a Short-toed Eagle, a Jay, a Golden Oriole and heard several Nightingales.
At Les Chenes we walked along a woodland track seeing 20+ Ravens, a Booted Eagle, Blackbirds, Robins, Wrens, Hoopoes, Jays, African Blue, Great and Coal Tits, several Atlas Flycatchers, a Bonelli's Warbler, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Blackcaps, Whitethroats and Serins, also hearing 2 Cuckoos, Nightingales and a Lavaillant's Green Woodpecker.
By the time we arrived at our hotel in Tabarka it was getting dark, but, could still hear Common Bulbuls and Nightingales; a Tawny Owl started calling nearby and when I called back to it, it flew straight towards me and I had to duck as it flew over.
In the trees around the Tabarka hotel there were 2 Common Bulbuls, a Nightingale, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and 2 Olivaceous Warblers. After breakfast we headed east stopping at Sejnane Forest near Sajanan where we saw a Moussier's Redstart, a Black-eared Wheatear, Sardinian Warblers and heard several Nightingales and a Quail.
We continued to Lake Ichkeul exploring the western, northern and eastern sides of the lake, seeing c40 Cattle Egrets, a Kingfisher, Quail, Fan-tailed Warblers, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks, Reed Warblers, Spotted Flycatchers, a Whinchat, 5 Marsh Harriers, 10 White-winged Black Terns, a Black Tern, a Gull-billed Tern, Black-headed Gulls, 5 Grey Herons, 3 White Storks, 2 Collared Pratincoles, a Garganey, a few Coot, a Great Crested Grebe, a Little Egret, a Purple Heron, a Purple Gallinule, 3 Woodchat Shrikes, a Little Owl, hearing several Great Reed Warblers, several Tunisian Green Frogs and 4 Pond Terrapins.
We returned to Lake Ichkeul, this time to the southern, mountainous side, where we saw c20 Little Stints, 4 Ringed Plovers, 8 Curlew Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper, 9 Marsh Harriers, lots of Coot, Mallard, heard lots of Great Reed Warblers, 6 Avocets, 3 Little Owls,
10 Black-eared Wheatears, Spotted Flycatchers, Reed Warblers, a Long-legged Buzzard, 2 Rufous Bushchats or Scrub Robins, a Grey Heron, 3 Short-toed Eagles, 5 Moussier's Redstarts, 2 Purple Gallinules, a Hobby, 2 Egyptian Vultures, a Calandra Lark, and, towards evening watched c40 Cattle Egrets flying over, heard several Night Herons calling from the reeds and listened to the calls of an African Golden Wolf.
We returned to the hotel in Bizerte and after our evening meal, Dave descided he was going to go back to try and record the wolf and night atmospheres.
It was late when Dave got back, with the police, he had been on his way back and was hit by a truck carrying bricks, the police took him to the local hospital and he seemed OK, luckily only shaken and bruised, but the car was a right-off. Only when we got home did he learn he should have been put in a neck-brace.
A day at the hotel to let Dave recover from his crash and deal with the paperwork from the police, in the afternoon a replacement hire car arrived.
Seen around the hotel was a Roller, a Kestrel, several Bee-eaters and a Common Bulbul.
Our last day in Tunisia and Dave was feeling better, so we spent a few hours at the western end of Lake Ichkeul seeing 3 Marsh Harriers, about 20 Cattle Egrets, 6 Rufous Bushchats or Scrub Robins, 3 Woodchat Shrikes, 10 Spotted Flycatchers, 6 Common Bulbuls, a Cetti's Warbler with 2 more heard, lots of Nightingales heard, lots of Corn Buntings, Fan-tailed Warblers, Reed Warblers, Bee-eaters, an Otter, a Night Heron, several Olivaceous Warblers, an Egyptian Vulture, a Hobby, a Kingfisher, Greenfinches and Goldfinches.
Dave recording at Lake Ichkeul.
Southern Grey Shrike at Beni Zelten on 9th May.