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A Little bittern at Tyre Coast Nature Reserve was saved today by the reserve manager Hassan Hamzi and released at the reserve.

Little Bittern saved and released at Tyre Coast Nature Reserve

A Little bittern at Tyre Coast Nature Reserve was saved today by the reserve manager Hassan Hamzi and released at the reserve.

This nature reserve of south Lebanon covers the best sandy beaches in the country. It was declared a wetland according to “Ramsar“ Agreement. The Tyre nature reserve is also an important resting ground for migratory birds that some rare species of them are in danger of extinction. The artesian wells therein constitute a considerable source of drinking water. Besides, the reserve includes many species of plants and swamps birds which are very abundant in such environment. Tyre nature reserve is also considered as a ground for egg – laying by the green and loggerhead turtles that are in danger of extinction worldwide.

Amwaj Society for Environment, Tyre municipality, and Tyre Natural reserve committee are doing a great work to save such an important KBA on the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean basin.

This species has an extremely large range and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Herons are characteristic birds of wet places; wetlands and the coast. Expertly adapted to catch fish with their harpoon-like bills, and able to wade into shallow water using their long legs, they can stand motionless for long periods – as every fisherman knows you have to patient to catch fish! In Lebanon, only two species breed; the Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) and occasionally the Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). The 7 other species either only migrate through the country or spend the winter. All are fascinating to watch and once you have found them (some are well camouflaged) easy to observe as they are medium-sized to very large birds and, if not disturbed, will stay in one place for a long time.

Grey Heron encountered near the Turtles beach in Mansori

 

Heron Species in Lebanon

These are the 9 species that can be seen in Lebanon, with their Scientific, English, Arabic and French names:

Scientific Name English Name Arabic Name French Name
Botaurus stellaris Bittern الواق Butor etoile
Ixobrychus minutus Little Bittern الواق الصغير Blongois nain
Nycticorax nycticorax Night Heron بلشون الليل Heron bihoreau
Ardeola ralloides Squacco Heron واق ابيض صغير Heron crabier
Bubulcus ibis Cattle Egret ابوقردان بلشون البقر Heron garde-boeufs
Egretta garzetta Little Egret بلشون ابيض صغير Aigrette garzette
Egretta Alba Great White Egret بلشون ابيض كبير Grande Aigrette
Ardea cinerea Grey Heron بلشون رمادي Heron cendre
Ardea purpurea Purple Heron بلشون ارجواني Heron pourpre

 

The Best time and places to see Herons

Little Bitterns arrive at their breeding sites in April (Aaamiq, Kafr Zabad particularly). The migrant species are best seen in the spring (as then there is the most water around) from mid-March to May. Winter visitors such as the majestic Great White Egret tend to arrive at their Bekaa sites when the wetlands fill from winter rain, so January to March in most years. Outside of the wetland sites these birds can be seen migrating almost anywhere in the country but the coast is a particularly good place to keep a watch for them; Palm Islands, Ras Beirut from the Corniche and Tyre Beach Nature Reserve are particularly good sites.

 

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