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.
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.
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.
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.