Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

December 31, 2017

Canakkale and Gallipoli Birds

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 7:18 pm

The Dardanelles Birding

I had seen a bird the previous day when I was walking around the grounds of the Naval Museum at Canakkale in Turkey. But it was raining and I did not have my camera. So this morning I set off with an aim of photographing this new bird.

Black Redstar - male
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochuros) male

I worked out that it was a male Black Redstart. They were hopping around the naval exhibits looking for bugs.

Black Redstart - female
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochuros) female

The female of course was a lot plainer but still had the orangy undertail.

Common Chaffinch
Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

The other bird that I saw was the Common Chaffinch. I had seen this bird previously in New Zealand of all places.

So moving along with the day. At 11:30am we set off on a tour of Galipolli. We got the ferry over to the European side and a van took us to a restaurant where we had a snazzy fish dinner. Then we whooshed up the hill to the historic sites of Anzac Cove etc.

Eurasian Magpie
Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)

I finally got a photo of the Eurasian Magpie. I had seen a few of them but had been on a bus so I could not take their photo. They are also called the Black-billed Magpie.

Steppe Buzzard
Steppe Buzzard (Buteo buteo vulpinus)

It took me a while to work out this raptor and I am relatively convinced of my identification. It could be a Common Buzzard but they are out of range. The Steppe Buzzard is a sub-species of the Common Buzzard anyhow. I think this one is a fox red morph.

Steppe Buzzard
Steppe Buzzard (Buteo buteo vulpinus)

He came down on the road and I just managed to get his photo before he took off.

Dardanelles bird list

Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochuros)
Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)
Steppe Buzzard (Buteo buteo vulpinus)

December 30, 2017

From Hurghada to Istanbul

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 1:53 pm

Egypt and Turkey.

I spent a few days in Hurghada on the Red Sea in Egypt. The last two I was sick with a stomach bug so I did not go out.I took a few interesting photos around the hotel. This guy on the bike was the garbage recycler. He would go through the rubbish bins and pick out anything that was of use or value. The cats were very fond of the rubbish bins as well.

local garbo
Rubbish Man.

This camel was tied up on an unused building site. I thought it was an inappropriate place to tether an animal as large as this. It looked mighty strange this ship of the desert tied up in a suburban wasteland.

Camel in not such a nice place.
Camel in Inappriate setting.

I flew to Istanbul, Turkey at 3am in the morning. Luckily I slept most of the flight. Still, I was a bit seedy the next day. The airport was miles away from my hotel and we had to go through all the bumper to bumper traffic to get to the old part of Istanbul.

sultanamet
Sultanamet

I went for a walk along the waterfront and met these guys. They turned out to be alcoholics who were being all friendly wanting their picture taken, and then asked me for money. I walked away.

the local alchos
Alcoholics scabbing money

Yesterday I went for a few ferry rides to take some photos of the birds. This ferry came in when we were waiting to leave on our tourist ride.

Bosphorus commuter ferry
Bosphorus ferry boat

This was a commuter ferry and these were the hordes getting off to go to the European side of Istanbul. Maybe they were going shopping or returning home from work.

ferry commuters
Istanbul commuters

It has been raining for about three days. It is pretty miserable. I have bought a new jacket, beanie and umbrella. I am ready for the winter.

December 29, 2017

The waters of the Bosphorus

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

Istanbul Ferries

This morning was raining lightly as I stepped outside onto the paved tourist streets of Istanbul. I trotted down the hill to the waterfront and headed towards the ferry terminal. My mission was to go on ferry rides today. I did not know what I would find but it was more than I expected – four new birds.

Pygmy Cormorant
Pygmy Cormorant (Microcarbo pygmeus)

The Pygmy Cormorant lives up to its name. See its size compared to the Common Coot behind it. Roughly the same size.

European Shag
European Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)

I followed this European Shag along the waterfront on the European side of the Bosphorus just past the Harem ferry terminal.

Yelkouan Shearwater
Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan)

There was a large flock of Yelkouan Shearwaters flying round and round as I went on a tourist boat ride that only cost me four bucks. Money well spent, I reckon. Four bucks for two ticks. That is very good value.

Common Shelduck
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

I seen this mob of Common Shelduck on the tourist boat ride and was so shocked I stuffed up the first few shots because I was pressing the wrong buttons on the camera. I eventually got my act together.

Heuglin's Gull
Heuglin’s Gull (Larus heuglini)

This is a big close up of a Heuglin’s Gull. I was impressed with the detail and marbling in the bill of this amazing bird.

Common Starling
Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Common Starlings have the most amazing colours and textures. I always love taking their photos.

I spotted a few Rose-ringed Parakeets and was very surprised to see these Indian birds here. They are feral in the United Arab Emirates as well. This is what a local newspaper said about them:

” The number of “Psittacula” ringed-necked parakeets is increasing every day in Istanbul. The parakeets, which were first brought to Istanbul by animal sellers and are said to have settled in the city after escaping from their cages, have acclimatized to the local climate..” (www.hurriyetdailynews.com)

Istanbul bird list

Pygmy Cormorant (Microcarbo pygmeus)
European Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) 918
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Great Cormorant
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
Heuglin’s Gull (Larus heuglini)
Black-headed Gull
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Common Coot

December 28, 2017

Birds of Istanbul waterfront

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 6:18 pm

Istanbul Birding

I arrived in Istanbul this morning at 7am after a 3am flight from Hurghada in Egypt. I was a bit bleary. Lucky I got a shuttle bus to the hotel because I stuffed up my booking. I put down January instead of December. doh! It is not the first time I have done this. I wandered around waiting to check in to the hotel, getting a new sim card for my phone and a tram/bus/train card. I had a delicious beef shawarma for dinner and breakfast.

Heuglin's Gull - juvenile in flight
Heuglin’s Gull (Larus heuglini) juvenile in flight

In the afternoon I went down the waterfront to see if I could find some interesting gulls. There were thousands around but not a lot of variety in species.

Heuglin's Gull - juvenile
Heuglin’s Gull (Larus heuglini) juvenile

Juvenile gulls are a nightmare to identify.

Yellow-legged Gull - adult in flight
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) – adult in flight

Yellow-legged Gulls have a red ring around the eye and a red patch on the bottom bill.

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

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

Hooded Crow
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)

This Hooded Crow may be race sharpii or pallescens. I need to do further research on this. I just found out there were races.

Istanbul Bird List

Common Coot
House Sparrow
Feral Pigeon aka Rock Dove
White Wagtail
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
Heuglin’s Gull (Larus heuglini)
Great Cormorant
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)

Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica) aka Black-billed Magpie (seen but not photographed)

Gulls in Hurghada

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 3:10 pm

Hurghada Birds

The gulls in Hurghada roost on a half-finished resort just going out of town to the north. There is a real mixture there. There may be more than I could tell.

Armenian Gull
Armenian Gull (Larus armenicus)

This is a first winter Armenian Gull at the back standing with some adults in front sitting down.

Heuglin's Gull - first winter
Heuglin’s Gull (Larus heuglini) – first winter

The black patch at the end of the dark bill gives me some sort of clue about this Heuglin’s Gull.

Heuglin's Gull
Heuglin’s Gull (Larus heuglini) adult

The adult Heuglin’s Gull has a red ring around the eye with a patch on the bottom bill.

Sooty Gull
Sooty Gull (Larus hemprichii)

The only all dark gull with a white patch at the top of the eye.

White-eyed Gull
White-eyed Gull (Larus leucophthalmus)

The White-eyed Gull is essentially a Red Sea endemic. There is a white patch below and above the eye.

And that is the end of Egypt. Next post is from Istanbul, Turkey. More gulls. Probably the same ones.

Hurghada bird list

Armenian Gull (Larus armenicus)
Heuglin’s Gull (Larus heuglini)
Sooty Gull (Larus hemprichii)
White-eyed Gull (Larus leucophthalmus)

December 25, 2017

Al Quseir and Marsa Alam

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 8:03 am

Red Sea Coast.

I caught a minibus from Luxor to Al Quseir, where I stayed for a night before heading to Marsa Alam.

al quseir waterfront
Al Quseir waterfront

Marsa Alam is a weird place, it seems mostly deserted. There are half-finished buildings everywhere and no people. It was like walking through a ghost town. The people seemed pretty friendly, no hassles. It is pretty good for divers, the reefs are pretty shallow and the costs are cheap compared to western countries. A Dutch guy I met was paying about twenty euros per dive. And he said the safety was reasonably good.

Marsa Alam - abandoned and lost
Abandoned beach umbrella installations.

After Marsa Alam I caught the Upper Egypt bus to Safaga. I found a really cheap fancy hotel near the sea port but it is a fair way away from the town center. Beaches here are inaccessible. That was disappointing.

Plastic littered the beach
Plastic littered the beach

I am heading to Hurghada today. Let us hope that the beaches are more accessible. But the wind is blowing very hard and it is freezing.

disaster zone
Marsa Alam – ghost town and disaster area.

Caspian Tern
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)

Red Sea bird list

Western Reef Egret
Chiffchaff
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)
Greater Sand Plover

December 24, 2017

Aswan and Luxor Photos

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 7:48 am

Upper Nile Valley Tourist Photos.

In Aswan I spent a lot of bird watching and spent about eight days there. Most of the time was along the river or the Aswan Reservoir.

fishing aswan reservoir
Fishing at Jebel Shisha

Jebel Shisha is a small village on the Aswan Reservoir between the high and low dams on the Nile River.

desert ruins
Desert Ruins

Some ruined buildings on the west bank of the Nile at Aswan.

cruise ships
Too many cruise ships

There were heaps of cruise ships docked at Aswan. Some of them in a bad state of disrepair. There are not many tourists around after all the security problems in Egypt and tourists are staying away.

balloon 9640
Balloon over Luxor

There were quite a lot of hot air balloons operating at Luxor. They went up before sunset and floated around for a few hours, then came down again.

Balloon over the desert.
Balloon over the desert.

Another balloon cruising over the desert.

some pharoah dude
Statue of some pharoah dude.

I liked this statue. I think it was Hatsepshut or something like that. doh!

Desert village
Desert village

These villages were still up but I would not like to live there. They are near the tombs of the dead.

Tranquil village scene
Tranquil village scene

Nice shot of a donkey in the village. I like donkeys.

Balloon rising from the palms
Balloon rising from the palms

A balloon taking off from near the west bank village.

Ancient temple.
Ancient temple.

Lots of ancient temples Most of them in a bad state of disrepair.

man donkey fodder
Fodder cart.

An old man with donkey carting fodder around.

December 20, 2017

The Red Sea

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 6:10 pm

El Quseir Birding

What a horror of a journey getting to the Red Sea. I set off this morning hoping to catch the 10am bus to Hurghada and getting off at Safaga. But no 10am bus. So I went to GoBus and booked a ticket for the 3:30pm VIP bus. Dejected, I went and had a turkish coffee. While in the cafe, I met a guy who said he could get me on a mini-bus to Safaga. So off I went to the mini-bus station. But the first bus would not take me because tourists were not allowed to travel by minibus. But we found another driver and off I went. No hassles, except we went via Al Qusair which is more south than Safaga. So I got off there and found a hotel.

White-eyed Gull  in flight
White-eyed Gull (Larus leucophthalmus) in flight

A flock of these White-eyed Gulls came wheeling towards me when I was on a wharf in the harbour. They flew around in circles for a while until they settled in what appeared to be an old swimming pool.

White-eyed Gull
White-eyed Gull (Larus leucophthalmus)

I hurried up the road, crashed through a cafe and started clicking away at these White-eyed Gull in front of a bunch of yuppies sipping on their lattes. Satisfied after I had shot enough photos, I trudged off past all the yuppies and back through the cafe to the street, triumphant. A new species!

One-legged Common Greenshank
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)

This Common Greenshank had only one shank. It looked like something had bitted one off!

Common Redshank
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)

There were not many waders along the shore. These were the only three there.

Greater Sand Plover
Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaulti)

At the end of the day, I found a great hotel on the sea-shore, I went for a walk along the beach, got ripped off, had a super cheap felafel meal and coffee, and I have erratic wifi. Tomorrow I must find a way to get to Marsa Alam. It is the weekend but I managed to book a guest house for a couple of nights. Christmas is coming up – I wonder where I shall spend it? Probably near Hurghada.

Red Sea Bird List

White-eyed Gull (Larus leucophthalmus)
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaulti)

December 19, 2017

Luxor Bird Watching 3

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 3:28 pm

Desert and Canals

This morning I rented a bicycle and headed west from the hostel into the desert. I went past where all the tombs were but no birds at all. I did find some birds around the canals.

Egyptian Barn Swallow
Egyptian Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica savignii)

I have been trying to get some photos of the Egyptian Barn Swallow and finally found some on the wires. This is the Egyptian race, savignii.

Barn swallow
Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)

This is the nominate race Barn Swallow for comparison. The tummy is white as compared to the red of the Egyptian Barn Swallow.

Black-winged Kite
Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

There were quite a few Black-winged Kites around lurking on the overhead wires.

Common Chiffchaff
Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

At first I thought it was a Nile Valley Sunbird, but I was disappointed. doh!

Common Bulbul
Common Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus)

I am not sure if this is the Egyptian race, arsinoe whose range is Egypt (Nile Valley), eastern Chad, Sudan, and northern South Sudan.

Luxor bird list

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Egyptian Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica savignii)
Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Common Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus) or Egyptian Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus arsinoe)
Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

December 18, 2017

Luxor Bird Watching 2

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 4:46 pm

Luxor Birding 2

18/12/2017 Morning. Once again I set off along the river bank heading north at Luxor west bank. The sun was shining at ninety degrees. I thought it might be behind me but it was not.

Greater Painted-snipe
Greater Painted-snipe (Rostratula benghalensis)

This is the first time I have seen a Greater Painted-snipe. Lucky.

Red-throated Pipit
Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)

This Red-throated Pipit still has some summer plumage left.

Common Greenshank
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)

Little Stint
Little Stint (Calidris minuta)

Crested Lark
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)

European Stonechat
European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

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

Zitting Cisticola
Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)

Bluethroat
Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)

Graceful Prinia
Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis)

Luxor Bird LIst

Greater painted-snipe (Rostratula benghalensis)
Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)
Egyptian Barn Swallow
Common Hoopoe
Terek Sandpiper
Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)
Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
Ruff
White Wagtail
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)
Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava beema)
Glossy Ibis
Purple Heron
Black Kite
Common Moorhen
Zitting Cisticola
Graceful Prinia
Spur-winged Lapwing
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus spinosus)
Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)

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