Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

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)

November 15, 2017

Khor Kalba – UAE

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 3:40 pm

Kalba, Eastern UAE.

They had the bull-dozers out at Chowka Dam in the afternoon and the site was basically inacessible. So I drove to Khor Kalba in the night. There are two amazing tunnels through the mountains, all lit up like a disco. When I made it to Kalba, I was a bit lost because there were houses everywhere. It was a pretty big town. I was expecting a small fishing village.

Yellow-legged Gull - first winter
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) first winter

I ended up camping in a construction site with road work going on through the night. And a barking dog. Life is fun.

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

I found a library so I uploaded all my photos bar these, and completed my blog posts. I had quite a big back-log, so I was going nearly all afternoon.

Yellow-legged Gull - first winter in flight
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) first winter in flight

I had a swim as well which was nice. The beaches are very long and you can drive on them.

Eurasian Oystercatcher
Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

This is just a record shot. A really crappy one. doh!

Common Tern
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)

Brown-headed Gull  in flight
Brown-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus) in flight

Brown-headed Gull
Brown-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus)

man with fish
Fisherman with catch

Khor Kalba bird list

Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
Brown-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
Common Myna
House Crow
Grey Heron
Kentish Plover

Shawka Dam – UAE mountains

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 10:18 am

Chowka Birding

Chowka is in the hills in the middle of the UAE just before you get to the eastern coast. It is very rocky and hilly with deep wadis.

Hume's Wheatear
Hume’s Wheatear (Oenanthe albonigra)

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

Northern Wheatear
Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

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

bunting ? id please
Striolated Bunting (Emberiza striolata)

a lark? id please
Some kind of lark ?

ID please ?

Indian Silverbill
Indian Silverbill

Purple Sunbird eclipse male
Purple Sunbird eclipse male

Chowka Birds

Hume’s Wheatear (Oenanthe albonigra)
Red-tailed Wheatear (Oenanthe chrysopygia)
Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
White-spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthopygos)
Striolated Bunting (Emberiza striolata)
Indian Roller
Indian Silverbill
Green Bee-eater
Purple Sunbird, male eclipse.
Laughing Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Black-winged Stilt
Mallard
Great Cormorant
Red-wattled Lapwing
Grey Heron
Little Grebe
Common Sandpiper

Al Ain Birding Two

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 10:03 am

Jebel Hafeet and Green Mubazarrah.

In the late afternoon I climbed the mountain right next to Al Ain city. It is called Jebel Hafeet and it rises 1300 meters out of the flat desert. The road winds up and up and at times I was worried that the road might be too steep for my little Kia clone.

egyptian vulture
Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)

There were a few Egyptian Vultures up there soaring around.

Brown-necked Raven
Brown-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis)

And some Brown-necked Raven. I think these were the birds that were harassing a Steppe Eagle at Al Wathba Wetlands. They have a wedge-shaped tail which had got me wondering. That night I put my tent up in the car park, had my dinner and went to bed. Only to be woken time and again by the rev-heads hooning their way up and down the steep road.

Green Mubazarrah 13/11/2017 am.

The next morning I woke before 6am and packed up the tent and headed down the hill to Green Mubazarrah. I was in luck because I caught the African Sacred Ibis out on the lawn before the sun had come up.

African Sacred Ibis
African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)

Luckily they flew over later on in better light.

African Sacred Ibis  in flight.
African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) in flight.

This young Arabian Babbler came out into the open so I could take his photo. Thanks, mate.

Arabian Babbler
Arabian Babbler (Turdoides squamicops)

There were quite a few Chukar Partridge on the grass early and later on they migrated to the rocky slopes.

Chukar Partridge
Chukar Partridge (Alectoris chukar)

Lucky I took this photo. I thought it was just a Little Egret. doh!

Western Cattle Egret
Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

I was hoping for a different roller but it is the same one I have been seeing for six months in India. I still love them.

Indian Roller
Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)

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

These Green Bee-eaters look a bit different to me. More blue in the face and a browner crown. Are they a local race?

Al Ain bird list

Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)
Brown-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis)
Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)
Chukar Partridge (Alectoris chukar)
Arabian Babbler (Turdoides squamicops)
Southern Grey Shrike
Grey Francolin
Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)
Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis)
Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) aka Common Hoopoe
Common Myna
House Sparrow

Al Ain Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 6:44 am

Lake Zakher and Green Mubazzarah.

Lake Zakher is a small lake on the outskirts of Al Ain. It has a picnic area and is surrounded by dunes.

Arabian Babbler
Arabian Babbler (Turdoides squamicops)

Mallard
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Western Marsh Harrier
Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

Romance in the dunes
Romance in the dunes

Al Ain Sun set
Sun set

Citrine Wagtail
Citrine Wagtail

Crested Lark
Crested Lark

Egyptian Vulture
Egyptian Vulture

Southern Grey Shrike
Southern Grey Shrike

Al Ain bird list

Arabian Babbler (Turdoides squamicops)
Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Citrine Wagtail
Grey Heron
Black-winged Stilt
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Red-wattled Lapwing
Laughing Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Crested Lark
Common Myna
Egyptian Vulture
green bee-eater (Merops orientalis)
Southern Grey Shrike

Al Wathba – Abu Dhabi

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 6:28 am

Al Wathba Wetland Reserve

Yesterday I thought it was Thursday. But then I looked at the date and it was Friday. That meant that the Al Wathba Wetlands will be open tomorrow! So I went to bed determined to get up at 6am and drive to Abu Dhabi and turn right.

id please
Steppe Eagle ?

I was up at 5.30am because I was freezing and there had been condensation through the night so I was soaking. I found an ADNOC petrol station and had breakfast. After a circuitous route I found my way to the wetlands and got signed in.

Common Snipe
Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)

There were thousands of Greater Flamingos in the pond beneath the info center. I took the green trail which is clearly marked.

Citrine Wagtail
Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)

Greater Flamingo adults
Greater Flamingo adults

Egyptian Goose
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptica)

Tawny Pipit
Tawny Pipit

A Steppe Eagle being harassed by two Brown-necked Raven
A Steppe Eagle being harassed by two Brown-necked Raven.

Isabelline Wheatear taking off
Isabelline Wheater (Oenanthe isabellina) taking off.

Isabelline Wheatear
Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

Al Wathba Wetlands bird list

Steppe Eagle
Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptica)
Isabelline Wheater
Tawny Pipit
Greater Flamingo
Black-winged Stilt
Eurasian Collared Dove
Laughing Dove
Daurian Shrike
White-eared Bulbul
Common Gull
Kentish Plover

Liwa Desert Birds – UAE

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 6:08 am

Liwa Desert Birding

Two hundred kilometers from Ruwais on the coast to Liwa in the desert. As soon as you get out of the coastal flat sands you get to the inland sand dunes. There are still fences along all the roads but you start seeing camels and dunes.

road to Liwa
The road to Liwa

They are feeding the camels hay. There are big storage paddocks where there are thousands of bales of hay.

Southern Grey Shrike
Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis)

I found a camp at night right next to a rubbish dump. There were dunes as well and quite a few birds.

Desert Wheatear
Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)

More Desert Wheatear. They are quite numerous.

Tawny Pipit
Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris)

Dunes near my camp.
Desert Dunes near my camp

Asian Desert Warbler
Asian Desert Warbler (Sylvia nana)

Isabelline Wheatear
Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

mystery bird, id please
Mystery Bird

Liwa desert birds list

Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris)
Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)
Red-tailed Wheatear (Oenanthe chrysopygia)
Asian Desert Warbler (Sylvia nana)
Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis)
Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)
Crested Lark
Eurasian Collared Dove

Dalmah Island Birds

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 5:53 am

Delma Island Birding

8/11/2017.It was a nightmare trying to find the ferry to Delma Island. (Also called Dalmah Island.) I was going around in circles until I found the right place. I bought my ticket. 100 Dirhams for a car and twenty Dirhams for each passenger(about $40 total). The ferry was very fast and modern and took about two hours to get there.

Desert Wheatear
Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)

I found a place to crash near the beach and the next morning went for a walk along a breakwater. I found this bird sitting on a rock but I cannot work out what it is. Maybe a Siberian Stonechat or similar?

mystery bird
Unknown bird, possibly Stonechat

Moving around the island, I found a small patch of mangroves and spotted a Desert Wheatear and some type of warbler plus a few Grey Heron and cormorants.

Crested Lark
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)

I tried a few parking areas along the beach, then went for a swim. The water was beautiful – nice and warm and clear as a bell. I had two swims that day.

Daurian Shrike
Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

In the afternoon I went looking for the supermarket and the library. I found them both eventually. It is so hard to find anything. Everything is laid out so differently to what I am used to.

Socotra Cormorant
Socotra Cormorant (Phalacrocorasx nigrogularis)

I think this is a Socotra Cormorant. It has a more slender bill than the Great Cormorant.

Common Ringed Plover
Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

The only way I could tell this Common Ringed Plover was the size relative to the nearby Dunlin.

Western Reef Egret
Western Reef Egret (Egretta gularis)

sun set #4389
Sun Set

The end of another fine day.

Delma Island bird list

Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
Socotra Cormorant (Phalacrocorasx nigrogularis)
Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
Grey Heron
White-eared Bulbul
Little Egret
House Sparrow
Osprey
Grey Plover
Dunlin
Greater Sand Plover
Common Ringed Plover
Lesser Sand Plover
Laughing Dove
Dunlin

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