Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

December 10, 2017

Aswan River Cruise

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 1:26 pm

Nile River Boat Ride.

This morning I was up at 7am waiting for my boat ride. Finally I got it all sorted and started off at 8am. Only an hour late but still plenty of birds on the river.

Senegal Thick-knee
Senegal Thick-knee (Burhinus senegalensis)

I have been wanting to see this one for years. Tick it off the list.

Ferruginous Duck
Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)

The Ferruginous Duck is very small and very similar to the Australian Hardhead. The male Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) has a white eye, while the female’s is dark. Both have sharply defined white undertail-coverts.

African Swamphen
African Swamphen (Porphyrio madagascariensis)

The African Swamphen is another swamphen that I did not know about. They have a lot of green on their back.

Black-headed Gull
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

A close up of the Black-headed Gull showing the bill.

Common Ringed  Plover
Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

Once again I mistook it for a Kentish Plover. doh!

Egyptian Goose
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)

There were lots of these on the river, in Egypt.

unknown warbler please help
Unknown warbler

I am hopeless with these little things.

Western Marsh Harrier
Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeroginosus)

A Western Marsh Harrier sitting on a sandbank oblivious to all the waders.

Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)

Spur-winged Lapwing
Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus spinosus)

I finally got a good photo of one. yippee.

Common Greenshank
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)

Aswan Bird List

Senegal Thick-knee (Burhinus senegalensis)
Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
African Swamphen (Porphyrio madagascariensis)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeroginosus)
Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus spinosus)
Spotted or Common Redshank 6827 ???
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Moorhen
Black-winged Stilt
Grey Heron
Purple Heron
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
Glossy Ibis
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Great Cormorant
Yellow Wagtail
Squacco Heron
Whiskered Tern
Pied Kingfisher
Laughing Dove
Common Sandpiper
Black-crowned Night-heron

December 9, 2017

Aswan – Nile River

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 6:00 pm

Elephantine Island Birding

I flew from Cairo to Aswan. It only took an hour and a half as opposed to 14 plus hours on a train. I found a guest house on Elephantine Island in the middle of the Nile River here at Aswan.

Common Bulbul
Common Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus)

In the afternoon I took a walk around the island. This is a new bulbul for me.

Squacco Heron
Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

I could have sworn that this was an Indian Pond Heron. But it aint.

Common Chiffchaff
Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

Thanks to Dick for the identification for this warbler. I had no idea where to even start.

Black-headed Gull
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

Lots of these flying around in large flocks.

Gull-billed Tern
Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)

Quite a few of these as well.

Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis

And I could not resist this photo of a Glossy Ibis silhouetted against a sand dune.

Aswan bird list

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Common Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus)
Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Grey Heron
Purple Heron
Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis)
Black-winged Stilt
Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Little Egret
Pied Kingfisher
Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)
Laughing Dove
White Wagtail
Common Sandpiper
Glossy Ibis
Great Cormorant

December 7, 2017

I Kissed A Sphinx

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 5:37 pm

The Pyramids of Giza.

Today was the day to see the famous pyramids of Giza. We set off in our Uber taxi about 10am, drove through interminable high rise buildings until we came to this pyramid sticking up into the sky just behind a big building.

I kissed a spinx
Me and the sphinx

Here is the photo of the day. Me kissing the sphinx. For real. I am so stoked with this photo. No-one would ever believe I really kissed a sphinx unless I had this documentary evidence for said event. For real.

a pyramid of giza
The pyramid

And here is the pyramid, or one of them with the tour buses, tourists, scammers and hasslers all intermingled. There was no let-up from getting harrassed by camel riders, horse riders, wannabe guides, trinket sellers. It was never-ending and relentless. Kind of spoiled the whole thing really.


This kid was one of the hordes of school groups that swarmed over the grounds like a plague of locusts.

a day at the pyramids
Horse, pyramid, schoolkids

Typical scene at the amazing pyramids of egypt.

the sphinx
The sphinx

And here is the lady herself in the natural setting.

boat of pharoah
pharoah’s boat

This is one of the fair dinkum ridgy-didge boat of the pharoahs. Housed in its own special building. You have to cover your shoes before you get in.

December 6, 2017

Oasis Birding in Egypt

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 4:16 pm

Siwa Oasis, Egypt.

Here are some of the birds from Siwa, an Oasis in the western desert region of Egypt, near to the libyan border. There were not very many birds there. I was quite surprised. It is quite lush with vegetation.

White-crowned Wheatear - adult
White-crowned Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga)

The adult with the white top of the head.

White-crowned Wheatear - juvenile
White-crowned Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga)

This one is a juvenile with the black head.

Common Kestrel
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

White Wagtail
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

Pigeon Roost
Pigeon Roost

I was wondering what this was for ages. It is a roost for pigeons. doh!

Birds of Siwa Oasis

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
White-crowned Wheater (Oenanthe leucopyga)
Cattle Egret
Little Egret
Feral Pigeon
Laughing Dove
White Wagtail

Marsa Matrun and Siwa Oasis

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 1:51 pm

Ocean and Oasis

Marsa Matrun is 300 kilometers west of Alexandria, sitting on edge of the Mediterannean Sea.

net haul
Setting nets

The water is so sparkling clear and blue. There are no tourist because it is winter time, but the weather was beautiful.

Ocean Panorama
Ocean panorama

This is the view towards Rommel’s Cove. Erwin Rommel had his underground headquarters built into the rock during the second world war.

Rommel's Bay
Rommel’s Bay

It seemed like most of the fishing boats were hauled up and getting work done on their hulls.

fishing boats hauled in
Fishing boats

And on into the desert. We caught a bus to Siwa, which is an oasis in the far west of Egypt. This was our half way cup of tea stop. Nothing there for miles and miles.

western desert egypt
Western Desert

An oasis

And when you get there, there is vegetion all around. Date palms and olive trees abound. There is water flowing out of the ground. All is fertile.

pigeon roosts
Pigeon Roosts

I had to ask what these were for. I thought they were some kind of grain storage.

tombs of the dead
Tombs of the dead

We did a tour and on top of this hill are all these ancient graves. spooky.

Siwa Oasis panorama
View of Siwa Oasis

A panoramic view of the oasis from the top of the dead hill.

ali and me
Our guide Ali

Our guide and tuk-tuk driver was Ali. He was a really funny guy. I tried out the Zoolander Blue Steel look. I hope you think it was successful.

temple of Amun
Amun temple

The inscription was all in ancient Egyptian script. Dunno what it said.

salt pool
Salt pool

The water in this pool was so salty you just floated.

ruined city
Ruined City

The old city on top of the hill was in ruins.

December 1, 2017

Mariout Lake Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 3:35 pm

Lake Marriout

First day birding in Egypt. I got all the tourist photos out of the way and I was ready to go. This morning was the first day it had not rained. So it worked out just right. I was up at 7am and out the front of the hotel and ringing the uber taxi to go out to the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road which cuts right through Mariout Lake.

Western Marsh Harrier
Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

There were a couple of raptors this morning but this one was the only one close enough to see and identify properly. Maybe the other one was a Montagu’s Harrier. Too hard to say. This harrier could jump tall buildings in one bounce.

fishing the lake
Fisherman on the lake

There were a few fishermen scattered around the lake. Some fishing, some keeping fish in holding nets, and a few had homes right inside the lake on a scrap of dirt.

Spur-winged Lapwing
Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus spinosus)

First time I cought sight of this LAPWING. It is not a plover. This is the correct Spur-winged Lapwing. Australians have been mis-naming the Spur-winged Plover for eons. stop it!

Little Egret
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

It is a bit nerdy when you know and remember the scientific name of a bird. doh!

Pied Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)

There were quite a few Pied Kingfisher hovering over the lake fishing. This one is in a very delicate pas de deux.

White Wagtail
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

I knew this one. Seen quite a few lately.

Great Cormorant V formation
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

There were a few formations of these Great Cormorants spreading out over the sky.

Mariout Lake bird list

Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus spinosus)
Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)
White-throated Kingfisher (Halycon smyrnensis)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

November 30, 2017

A Ride on the Trams

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 12:50 pm

Alexandria, Egypt

I got up late this morning. It is overcast and raining. I have breakfast at the street cart again. Beans, pitta bread and salad, with a strong cup of coffee. I am ready to go. A tram comes past and I get on it. It is going west. That will do.

cafe culture
Cafe Culture

Everywhere along the way people are at the cafes having a cuppa to start their day.

street food
Street food

Most people just grab something off a street cart. It is cheap and it is tasty. Probably pretty healthy too.

green tram
green tram

A tram going the other way. The driver does not like me taking his photo. Some people here do, some do not.

tenement living
Tenement living

There are lots of high rise buildings. Streets are narrow and buildings are tall.

hanging out the window
Hanging out the window

Just watching the world go by.

fruit and veggies
Fruit and vegetable stall

There is always time for a chat.


And always time to check out what is happening around da joint.

street food cart 2
Another street cart

People are still eating on the way back.


Get it into you, boys.

rubbish donkey
Rubbish donkey.

This poor old ass has to cart rubbish around.

recycling bike
Rubbish bike

This guy has a machine to do it.

fish don't sell themselves
Selling fish

And chatting.


Ten points for a happy smile and a clap.

city life
The big city

November 29, 2017

Bad Start – Good Finish

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 2:47 pm

Alexandria, Egypt.

I got to the airport at Dubai nice and early. I had checked in online so I thought I was sweet. No hassles getting weighed with my carry-on luggage. I could have had more weight but you never know. Boarding time comes and I check in and get on the bus. Then they start a big panic looking for the Australian. That was me I said. I had to get off the bus to the plane and go back to check-in. They said I needed a visa before I boarded the plane. I told them it is Visa On Arrival. I wait for about a half hour freaking out thinking I have missed my flight, what am I gonna do?

the corniche alexandria
The Corniche at Alexandria

Strangely they eventually let me on the flight. This is 11:30 at night. I am dog-tired. We get to Alexandria and I pay my VOA visa fee, get my visa, no problems as I had expected. Got to customs and they start searching everything in my bag. Then they made me stand in front of the X-ray machine thing and scannned me. I did not know what was going on. This is 2am in the morning. Very tired and wasted. No sleep. They finally let me in after checking me out. I guess I was not a baddie.

people transporters
Hi-Ace vans transport people all over

I find a chair in the airport and try to sleep till morning. Not very successfully. I am very grumpy by the time the sun comes up. There is no shuttle bus, I have to take a taxi. Get to my hotel and I cannot check in till mid-day. I go for breakfast. I find some amazing street food – beans and lebanese bread and an awesome cup of coffee and some nice people to share it with. This is better.

hauling in the nets
Hauling in the nets.

After breakfast I go for a wander along the waterfront, called the corniche in this neck of the woods. The fishermen are hauling in the nets, I watch this for a while. They catch a few kilos of tiny fish – a measly catch. I go for a walk looking for a sim card for my phone. All sorted. Look for a birds of egypt book. I find a small one. Not satisfied. Get some lunch at KFC and go to bed for a well earned snooze.

On the street where you live
Old brownstones on my street.

a tram
A tram.

room with a view
View from my balcony

By mid-afternoon the traffic is bumper to bumper and everyone is bipping their horns, Sounds like India. I really like this city. Just need to get some big sleep.

November 28, 2017

Camel Racing UAE

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 7:37 am

A Day At The Races.

On the way down from the mountains to the beaches, I stopped off at this camel racing track. I found a camping site right next to the track and settled down for the night.

At the track
The track

During the late afternoon and evening, the jockeys were training the camels around the track. They would lead about half a dozen camels around, urging them on. The owners would drive along the track in their four wheel drives tooting their horns and shouting encouragement.

Practice run
Practice run.

I had a good restful sleep under the stars. No noisy hoons during the night. Just a gentle breeze for company.

Proud jockey
Phone in hand.

There were all types of people riding the camels. It was like the United Nations of camel racing.

Urging on the camel
Urging on the camel

Early in the morning, the races had already started. They were up and going by the time I got out of bed to behold a sight beyond imagination. Riderless camels bouncing down the track, with hordes of four wheel drives pouring down the road like avenging mosquitos. The dust!

A plague of toyotas
A Plague of Toyotas

After they had gone past, I could not see a thing.

dust storm
Dust storm

A camera man was stuck on top of a van filming the race. Maybe it was for post-race analysis.

filming the race
Filming the race.

robot jockey
Robot jockey

The jockey was a little robot that flailed the whip every now and again. I would have preferred monkey jockeys myself.

November 27, 2017

Northern Beaches – UAE

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 1:31 pm

Umm Al Quwain and Khor Al Beida

From the mountains to the coast. Khor Al Beida is a mangrove forest in the estuary north of Umm Al Quwain. It is steadily getting built up and the wetlands are being filled in and developed.

Graceful Prinia
Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis)

It was hard to identify this from the Zitting Cisticola but the striped undertail gave it away.

Common Greenshank
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebulinga)

Again the bill shape and upward tilt defined this Common Greenshank.

Western Reef Egret , dark morph
Western Reef Egret (Egretta gularis)

I was wondering why this one seemed darker than the usual dark morph Western Reef Egrets I had been seeing. Adults are darker than juveniles. doh!

Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

Again bill shape defined identification of this Dunlin.

Ruddy Turnstone
Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstones are really easy to identify with their plumage and weird shaped bills.

Grey Plover
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

A Grey Plover flying over the surf.

UAE north coast bird list

Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis)
Western Reef Egret
Lesser Sand Plover
Greater Flamingo
Rainbow Bee-eater
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebulinga)
Greater Sand Plover
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Ruddy Turnstone
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
Eurasian Oystercatcher
Kentish Plover
Socotra Cormorant

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