14-20 April 2019
We made a small day trip from Beirut, to a pine forest located between Qsaybeh and Ras el Mata, a place miraculously still spared from the galloping urbanization. We mention it for the exceptional flora we discovered there.
The Aammiq wetland, located in the Bekaa plain, is the richest site in Lebanon in terms of biodiversity. This wetland has been designated as a RAMSAR site, IBA zone and is theoretically included in the Shouf Mountain Nature Reserve, a UNESCO biosphere reserve. This site is one of the best places in Lebanon to observe birds, some of which are very rare in the region, such as the Ferruginous Duck or the Glossy Ibis. In reality, the Lebanese state does nothing to manage this oasis remaining in the middle of intensive fields and this is unfortunately perhaps not worse, given its non-existence and its chronic lack of will to enforce environmental laws. The Aammiq marsh is a private domain owned and managed by the Skaff family. They have barricaded the area to prevent hunters from entering, but all around, it is a perpetual war against anything that flies or runs...
Overlooking this swamp, Beit Aamiq https://www.soukeltayeb.com/beit/beit-ammiq/ is a lovely little hotel where we stayed. It is in the middle of grassy and rocky hills, then higher up in altitude beautiful oak forests take over and extend to the crest of the majestic Barouk Mountain. The Aamiq estate remains an almost intact testimony of Lebanon’s rural past.
We were lucky to find the now very rare Rock hyrax there.
Is was also the only place where we heard many species of passerines. We could observe very briefly only one Syrian Serin, one of our target species.
Despite the almost winter-like weather conditions, the sightings on the marsh were extraordinary, such as around thirty Little Crake and impressive flights of Great White Pelicans and Black and White Storks.
The other regions visited: