Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

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.

laundry
Laundry

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.

smoko
Smoko

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.

stretch
Stretch.

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
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

Never Camp in a Wadi

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 10:00 am

Masafi Wadi Flash Flood

I was half way up the wadi at Masafi when I heard the rumblings of the thunderstorm. I got out of there quick smart. Half an hour later it started to bucket down. It absolutely poured. I just stayed in my car and waited for it to end.

After the storm
After the storm.

There was water everywhere. I looked into the wadi near where I was parked and there was a roaring creek where it had been a dry riverbed hours before.

Flooding wadi
Flooding wadi

Heaps of people came out to gawk at the water flowing down the wadi. There was even a traffic jam because of all the rubber neckers and gawkers.

Storm water drain is full
Storm water drain is full

Police were out in force and the ambulance went roaring up the road.

Dry wadi country
Dry wadi country

This is the type of country that collects the water. It just funnels down these wadis whenever there is a thunderstorm. They are very dangerous.

Wadi Bih Scenery
Wadi Bih Scenery

After that I went to the coast, then up to Wadi Bih. It is very mountainous up there.

The road up to Jebel Jais
The road up to Jebel Jais

The road snakes up the mountain to the top of Jebel Jais which is quite high. My ears were poppping and it was a bit chilly.

Mountain panorama
Mountain panorama

Just over these mountains was Oman.

Fishermen working at Sha'am
Fishermen working at Sha’am

After that I went to the northern coast just before the border to Oman. Nice little fishing village at Sha’am. The nets went out for a long way and they dragged them in with their outboards then hauled the nets back on board the boats by hand.

A very scenic background
A very scenic background

November 26, 2017

Chowka Dam Redux

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 9:53 am

Chowka Dam Revisited

Back to Chowka Dam for another go. The last time I was here they were doing all road work and I could not get to the back of the dam. They had finished all the road works and were working on all the paving around the roads. I do not know if the birds will appreciate it, but I think the local tourists might.

Black Redstart
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros semirufus)

Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros semirufus) ,race semirufus ,has black upperparts and throat to lower breast, sharply defined from red below.

Scrub Warbler
Scrub Warbler (Scotocerca inquieta)

White-spectacled Bulbul
White-spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthopygos)

Desert Whitethroat
Desert Whitethroat (Sylvia minula)

Arabian Babbler
Arabian Babbler (Turdoides squamiceps)

Chowka Dam bird list

Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros semirufus)
Scrub Warbler (Scotocerca inquieta)
Desert Lark
White-spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthopygos)
Arabian Babbler (Turdoides squamiceps)
Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis)
Desert Whitethroat
Asian Desert Warbler (Sylvia nana) 5323
Purple Sunbird
Indian Roller
Laughing Dove
Little Grebe
Common Hoopoe
Brown-necked Raven
House Sparrow
Black-winged Stilt
Grey Heron
Great Cormorant
Laughing Dove

Wadi Birding UAE

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 9:36 am

Khatt to Masafi

I camped at the beach at Dibba and then headed off to the northern areas of the UAE to Wadi Bih. I drove up the Jais Mountain and then headed back to Wadi Masafi. Last time I was there I encountered a flash flood from a massive thunderstorm and I wanted to go back to see if I had missed anything.

Arabian Babbler
Arabian Babbler (Turdoides squamiceps)

On the way I stopped at Khatt, which is supposed to have natural springs but it seemed like they were closed. I stopped at a truck stop/gravel pit for lunch and found some Arabian Babblers.

Green Bee-eater
Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis)

I got to Masafi in the afternoon, set up my tent on the gibber plain just out of town and then went for a walk up the wadis.

White-spectacled Bulbul
White-spectacled Bulbul

Red-tailed Wheatear
Red-tailed Wheatear (Oenanthe chrysopygia)

Desert Whitethroat
Desert Whitethroat (Sylvia minula)

Desert Lark
Desert Lark

Masafi Wadi Bird List

Green Bee-eater
Grey Heron
Arabian Babbler (Turdoides squamiceps)
Common Hoopoe
White-spectacled Bulbul
Hume’s Wheatear (Oenanthe albonigra)
Red-tailed Wheatear (Oenanthe chrysopygia)
Desert Lark
Desert Whitethroat (Sylvia minula)
Purple Sunbird

November 19, 2017

From Kerala to Kalba

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 5:33 am

India and United Arab Emirates.

These are the photos from my tourist camera, the little panasonic point and shoot. They range from the lush green rice paddies of Kerala to the desolate desert dunes of the United Arab Emirates.

Kerala paddies
Rice paddies at Kerala

The green of Kerala. Lots of rain and hugely fertile. They probably do a couple of crops of year of rice.

India rail
India Rail

The chaos and madness of Indian trains as opposed to the order of the UAE road system. Near Shoranpur on the way from Calicut to Kochi.

fish traps
Fish traps.

These fish traps were loaded onto the fishing boats. For bait they use a mixture of bread and fish. We used to use square traps made out of wood frame and wire mesh.

arab dhows
Arab dhows

These boats were fitted with diesel motors and were used for fishing. Still the traditional dhow design.

car ferry from Delmah Island
Ferry from Delmah Island

This is the car ferry from Delmah Island back to the mainland at Ruwais. It took about 2 hours.

Ruwais ferry terminal
Ferry Terminal.

The ferry terminal at Ruwais. This was mainly an industrial area and I did not hang around.

Captain Oats UAE
Captain Oats.

Breakfast in the dunes. Oats, raisins, sugar and UHT milk. Yum. Washed down with a cuppa tea. Just like home.

Liwa dunes
Dunes at Liwa

The interior of the country. Dunes as far as the eye can see.

Dune panorama
Dune panorama

The road to Liwa stretches on forever. I got out of the car and the silence was deafening. I had never heard such absolute silence before, even in the Australian outback.

Reed tunnel
Reed tunnel

The reeds at Al Wathba Wetlands near Abu Dhabi.

November 18, 2017

Desert Birds – Masafi Wadi

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 11:15 am

Masafi Wadi Birding.

Masafi is about fifty kilometers from Kalba in East Coast UAE. I drove up there in the afternoon and went for a walk up the wadi until the thunder starting making big loud noises. I got out of there as soon as I could. I very luckily happened to photograph a Plain Leaf Warbler so that was a bonus.

Plain Leaf Warbler
Plain Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus neglectus)

Just as well I got out of there when I did because the rain bucketed down thirty minutes later. It absolutely poured. There was water flowing everywhere. Lucky I was parked on a flat spot so it just went round me. The wadi filled up and soon turned into a raging torrent. After the rain stopped people came from everywhere to gawk at the water flowing down the wadi.

Scrub Warbler
Scrub Warbler (Scotocerca inquieta)

The next morning I scooted up the wadi again, this time bagging the object of my desire, the Scrub Warbler. Very nice little bird.

Desert Whitethroat
Desert Whitethroat (Sylvia minula)

There were quite a few birds in the next wadi along. It was much better inhabited by birds.

White-spectacled Bulbul
White-spectacled Bulbul

Desert Lark
Desert Lark (Ammomanes deserti)

I have been trying to work out the name of the above bird for a week. It is the Desert Lark. I was calling it a thick-billed pipit. doh!

Common Hoopoe
Common Hoopoe

Also called Eurasian Hoopoe.

Masafi Wadi Birds list

Scrub Warbler (Scotocerca inquieta)
Plain Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus neglectus)
Desert Whitethroat (Sylvia minula)
Desert Lark (Ammomanes deserti)
White-spectacled Bulbul,
Hume’s Wheatear (Oenanthe albonigra)
Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris)
Common Hoopoe

More Gulls from Khor Kalba

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 7:53 am

More Kalba Gulls.

I took some more photos of the gulls and water birds around the beaches at Khor Kalba. There are many different species so it has taken me some time to get to grips with their identification. I still am not confident of my choices but I have learnt a lot in the process.

Eurasian Oystercatcher
Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

I saw one of these the other day but it was shooting across the water and I did not get a good shot. This one is a lot better but still not top notch.

Eurasian Oystercatcher
Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) in flight

Still not fantastic but you can see the wing patterns, etc.

Various terns and gull
Various terns and gull

Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis) , Great Crested Tern (Sterna bergii) aka Swift Tern and
Common Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) .

Sooty Tern
Sooty Tern (Onychoprion fuscia) 4266

Sooty Tern at back. Common Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) in front.

Sandwich Tern
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis) 4269

Black-billed tern in the middle with yellow tip.

Sooty Gull
Sooty Gull (Larus hemprechii) adult

Sooty Gull
Sooty Gull (Larus hemprechii)

Sooty Gull – 1st winter on left, adult on right.

Sooty Gull in flight
Sooty Gull (Larus hemprechii)

1st winter in flight.

Yellow-legged Gull
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) adult

Yellow-legged Gull
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) 1st winter

Khor Kalba bird list

Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis)
Great Crested Tern (Sterna bergii) aka Swift Tern
Common Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis) 4269 DONE
Sooty Tern (Onychoprion fuscia) 4266 DONE
Sooty Gull (Larus hemprechii) 4685 adult YIP 4723 1st winter 4745
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) adult 4749 DONE , 1st winter 4761 DONE
Western Reef Egret
Striated Heron (Butorides striata)

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