Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

January 2, 2018

A Walk Along the Water-front

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Ayvalik, Turkey.

I caught the bus from Canakkale at 10am and after innumerable stops at every otogar along the way, I arrived at Ayvalik, more than a hundred kilometers east. The weather is overcast today. After checking into my hotel, I had a doner kebab and a turkish coffee. Then came back and got my camera gear and went for a walk along the water-front.

bridge to the islands
A Bridge to the islands.

This bridge goes over to the Ayvalik islands.

Yellow-legged Gull
Yellow-legged Gull

Very few birds about. I was very disappointed. 🙁

rocky hill
A rocky hill

This rocky hill across the bay had some interesting rock structures.

Ayvalik panorama
Ayvalik panorama

A view looking towards the town of Ayvalik.

sunset over the bay

The next bay around from Ayvalik.

Ayvalik bird list

Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochuros)
Yellow-legged Gull (larus michahellis)
Great Cormorant
White Wagtail
Crested Lark
European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

January 1, 2018

Dardanelles Birding 2

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 5:43 pm

Canakkale – Dardanelles.

I got up before the sun this morning. (The sun does not rise here until 8:50am). Walked north along the waterfront at Canakkale. My goal was to find some forest out of town and discover some new birds. Most of the way it was land inhabited by the military and photography was forbidden.

Eurasian Jay
Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius atricapillus)

I found a park along the way and saw a Eurasian Magpie and then spotted my first Eurasian Jay. I was lucky that they are very easy to identify, having quite distinctive features.

European Greenfinch
European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

The last bird I photographed this morning was a European Greenfinch. Same park on the way back. I continued past the park until I found some cultivated land and then went up a road through the farmland. There were a few birds about.

European Goldfinch
European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

The European Goldfinch were in a flock of about forty birds and feeding on the grass seeds. There were a few flocks of birds about – Crested Larks and Common Starling. The starling flock consisted of thousands of birds.

Crested Lark
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)

I was surprised to still be seeing Crested Larks. They must have quite a range because I had seen them in the UAE and Egypty, as well as India.

Common Starling tree
Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

I worked out that I walked more than six kilometers this morning. When I got back to the hotel, I had to walk another couple of kilometers to find out that Burger King was closed! At mid-day! I had to have a couple of biscuits and a coffee for my breakfast/lunch. 🙁

id please
Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)

I have no idea what this bird is. Please help to identify it. (edit: Thanks to Dick Hoek for the ID.) Louis thinks it might be a Mistle Thrush. I will have to have a closer look. More from Louis “Definitely not song thrush – the spots on the belly are a different shape on song thrush and the head is browner, not grey.” Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)

Tomorrow I am going to Ayvalik, which is more than a hundred kilometers east of here along the coast. I hope to find some more new birds there. But I have no idea what they might be. I have done very little research on Turkish birds. doh!

Canakkale bird list

Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius atricapillus)
European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)
Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
Hooded Crow
Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Steppe Buzzard (Buteo buteo vulpinus)

A Day At Gallipoli

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Dardanelles Peninsular

Yesterday I took a tour to Gallipoli from Canakkale. There was another Aussie in the hotel and they needed two people to make it viable so I went along. We started at 11:30am and crossed over on the ferry and were met at the European side by a van. Then we drove to the restaurant and had a fish dinner. Very yummy.

crossing the bosphorus
Crossing the Bosphorus

First stop was the museum where we wandered around for twenty minutes. I was most impressed with the dioramas. I love a good diorama.

bayonet charge diorama
Bayonet charge

trencb diorama
Life in the trenches.

Then it was on to Brighton Beach which was nice and flat. I dunno why they did not come ashore here. Lots easier than Anzac Cove.

anzac cemetery
Cemetery near Anzac Cove

Anzac Cove is just ridiculous. There are cliffs right on the beach. It must have been insane landing here with bullets flying and then having to climb a humungous cliff. Utter madness.

Anzac Cove
Anzac Cove

The Anzac Commemmorative site is where they hold the dawn service. It is quite a nice spot right next to the water. It is not real huge but.

Anzac Commemorative Site
Anzac Commemorative Site

Lone Pine
Lone Pine.

We saw the remains of the trenches where the Aussies were dug in. The ridge is really narrow and the hill behind you is super steep. Not a nice place to be.

Aussie trenches
Aussie trenches

To the north the land is really flat. It would have been so easy to land there. Sometimes it is easy to be perplexed at the stupidity of war.

view to the north
View to the north.

And for a bonus, I took a photo of the Trojan Horse this morning at Canakkale. This is the one they made for the movie “Troy” starring Brad Pitt as Achilles. Brilliant casting, that. derrr.

Trojan Horse
The Trojan Horse

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

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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.


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..” (

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

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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
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.

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