Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

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)

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

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