Sunday, 30 September 2012

Birding Egypt, Sept 2012 - Part 2, The South

19th-22nd September
We left the Red Sea and headed South on a long drive ( made even longer by a burst tyre) to Shelatin. This was a different Egypt, quite close to Sudan, very hot, very dry with an economy dominated by the camel trade. It was near the Camel markets we hoped to find Vultures. We drove around and saw a few Egyptian Vultures but it was the much larger Lappet faced Vultures we really wanted to see. We eventually found a group of Vultures on the ground, with more dropping in but unfortunately the locals took exception to our presence so we could only view from some distance, but with birds flying around low over our heads we still had excellent views of the Vultures.
Lappet faced Vulture,Shelatin

Lappet faced Vulture
 Lunch was an interesting experience as we watched the hustle and bustle of life in the town from a balcony overlooking the main street. Stick carrying seemed to be important but whether it was something to do with status or camels or sheep wasnt clear. On the birding front we found a group of Namaqua Doves on some rough ground in the town and brief views of a Hoopoe lark from the bus on the way in.
 Namaqua Doves, Shelatin
Namaqua Dove

The following day was another day in the bus as we travelled to Aswan with few opportunities for birding. As we reached Aswan we stopped to bird on the banks of the Nile and then the lush gardens of our Hotel.
The next day was a real treat as we took a boat on the Nile to explore the Aswan cataracts, a series of reedy islands. Most Heron species were well represented as well asFerruginous ducks, Egyptian geese, Purple Swamphens and Clamorous Reed warblers amongst others.
Purple Heron,Aswan
Striated Heron
Striated Heron
Pied Kingfisher
Purple Swamphen
Ferruginous Duck
Clamorous Reed Warbler
Senegal Thick-knee
After the early morning boat trip we headed for a police compound for the 11.00am convoy to Abu Simbel. Various vehicles arrived with much form filling in and checks made.What followed can only be described as an an episode of the Wacky Races cartoon. Vehicles manouvered to get a good starting position before the word Go!When it came any resemblance to a covoy disintegrated as lorries, cars, coaches etc. sped off across the barren desert never to be seen again. It was another long, hot leg of our journey but we pulled into Abu Simnel with time to search for African Mourning Dove. No luck initially so we moved on to a small harbour frequented by African Pied Wagtails. The Wagtails were very obliging so we had time to have another crack at the dove. This time we found a couple on wires so a successful end to a long day.

 African Pied Wagtail
African Mourning Dove

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