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A Cream-coloured Courser chick (Cursorius cursor) in the semi-desert area of Ras Baalbek. August 2018, Ras Baalbek, Lebanon.

The semi-desert area of Ras Baalbek … A hidden Gem

By Fouad Itani

The semi-desert area of Ras Baalbek in the northern Bekaa region is a barren area where little precipitation occurs and consequently living conditions there are hostile to both fauna and flora. What makes this area special is a wide selection of biome-restricted species rarely found elsewhere in Lebanon. This attracts few birdwatchers but also, unfortunately, unethical hunters and poachers.

The Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor) is a summer breeder in the semi-desert area of Ras Baalbek. August 2018, Ras Baalbek, Lebanon.

 

Semi-desert area of Ras Baalbek. July 2018, Ras Baalbek, Lebanon.
The Temminck’s Lark (Eremophila bilopha) is a resident breeder in the semi-desert area of Ras Baalbek. July 2018, Ras Baalbek, Lebanon.

 

The Lesser Short-toed Lark (Calandrella rufescens) is a summer breeder in the semi-desert area of Ras Baalbek. July 2018, Ras Baalbek, Lebanon.

Many different types of birds are residents in the semi-desert area of Ras Baalbek. Some species are summer-breeders, others are winter visitors, and the rest occur during passage. These birds live off the seeds of grasses and shrubs, small insects, reptiles, and rodents.

The Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis) is a common passage migrant and winter visitor to the semi-desert area of Ras Baalbek. December 2017, Ras Baalbek, Lebanon.

 

The Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) is a common winter visitor and not uncommon passage migrant to the semi-desert area of Ras Baalbek. December 2017, Ras Baalbek, Lebanon.

Despite the fact that illegal hunting occurs in this region all year long, these ground-dwelling bird species continue to survive to a certain extent due to their enhanced camouflage. This helps them blend perfectly with their surrounding background making them hard to be detected by their natural predators and hunters alike.

Some of the species that are only found in such habitats in the country include the Cream-colored Courser, the Bar-tailed Lark, the Desert Lark, the Temminck’s Lark, and the Scrub Warbler.

 

The Little Owl (Athene noctua) is normally found perched on rock piles along the tracks of semi-desert of Ras Baalbek. July 2018, Birecik, Turkey.

 

The Agama Lizard (Laudakia stellio) is a food source to some species such as the Long-legged Buzzard. July 2018, Ras Baalbek, Lebanon.

 

A Cream-coloured Courser chick (Cursorius cursor) in the semi-desert area of Ras Baalbek. August 2018, Ras Baalbek, Lebanon.

Visiting this semi-arid part of Lebanon might sound boring to some, but if one chooses to look closely, he’ll find that this area holds a sheer diversity of life just waiting to be discovered.

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