Monday, February 14, 2011

Shore Thing, Egypt

I sorted through my Egypt photos and came up with a selection of birds I found on walks along Makadi Bay, strolls that included the beach, shore and a couple of spots where there were boats of all shapes and sizes, all of which makes good shorebird habitat.

I had no preconceptions about anything I might see on the holiday, it was after all mainly a winter holiday to warm through our northern bones, with a bit of birding thrown in if time and circumstances allowed.

One morning while carrying my camera with long lens and taking pictures of a lone Greenshank on the beach, a local lad Mimo shouted after me “paparazzi”, maybe thinking I was taking an unhealthy interest in and pictures of the many bikinied Russian girls lounging on sun beds – as if I would!

Mimo surprised me by being fairly clued up about western birding, even though he had never seen the Kingfisher that perched every day above and next to his camel’s shelter, but asked if I had seen the “big white hawk that lives in the sand”. Alarm bells rang as I realised Ospreys frequented the area, and of course in the Middle East Ospreys do indeed nest on the ground, mainly on remote islands owing to the general lack of trees. I looked harder for the next few days and found the Ospreys as they came in and out of the bay to feed in the shallow waters, often resting and drying out from their plunge dives on top of the Princess Deha that seemed to permanently berth alongside the main jetty. Frustratingly the early morning sun was always behind the boat meaning I had to over expose every shot to get a decent picture, hence the white and not blue sky. Mostly the birds would spend several minutes in the area before heading off north, than intermittently return towards dusk.



Too Close Osprey

Makadi Bay

Most mornings I saw Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and Greater Sand Plover, with an occasional Ringed Plover, but just like the UK, waders here were difficult to approach.


Greater Sand Plover

Greater Sand Plover

The jetty was a good place to find early morning Striated Heron and Western Reef Heron, both species being quite common along the Red Sea coast. A Western Reef Heron is the same size as Little Egret and superficially the two species might be confused, but the Reef Heron has a stouter bill with a slightly curved culmen and as a whole the species is a little less elegant than Little Egret. Striated Heron is a small, rather skulking heron, most active at dawn and dusk, but one or two days I found single birds on the beach or roosting on boats or the jetty.

Western Reef Heron

Striated Heron

Striated Heron

Western Reef Heron

Rather strangely in view of the abundance of fish, literally teeming along the tideline and abundant offshore, gulls and terns were scarce, whereby I saw daily Caspian Terns, several overflying Baltic Gulls, but in two weeks of looking, just a single Slender-billed Gull.

And the shot below is the best I got of a Caspian Tern, all of whom kept their silent distance from me for two weeks.

Caspian Tern


That’s it for now until I’ve sorted the Kingfisher and Slender-billed Gull pictures, but I also have a series of Chiffchaff pictures plus a spot of some nectarivory, which has absolutely nothing to do with Russian girls.

1 comment:

colin said...

hi phil
i'm going to makadi bay in march and would be glad of any info you have on birding there.
colin gittins

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