Monday, 21 April 2014

My new patch

My work has now taken me to Egypt, and I live about 20 kms to the west of Cairo, in a 'new town' called 6th October City and through the wonders of Google Earth I found a large area of wetland some 10 kms further west.

It seems to be two lakes (each covering about 400 ha) formed by the 'grey water' outfall from the city at 29°56'46.12" N  30°48'30.73" E and given that it is on the very edge of the western desert it looks to be a very promising site.

I've driven out there three times so far and managed a total of 72 species. The commonest water birds are squacco heron, cattle egret, common moorhen and little grebe. The water edges currently hold quite a few waders passing through on migration such as wood sandpiper, green sandpipercommon sandpiper and ruff together with good numbers of little stint and the ubiquitous spur-ringed plovers.

I've seen large numbers of hirundines hawking above the lakes. Mainly barn swallow (with plenty of the Egyptian sub-species, hirundo rustica savignii), sand martin, house martin and a few red-rumped swallow.

Marsh harrier are predictably the commonest raptor but I've also managed pallid harrier, black-winged kite, steppe eagle and common kestrel.

Of the passerines, I've seen three species of bee-eater, three species of pipit, plenty of woodchat shrike and amongst the yellow wagtails of various hues there are a few colourful m. f. pygmaea, another Egyptian sub-species. On my first trip I also managed to kick up a common quail and an egyptian nightjar from the low scrub.

Odonata are evidently fairly thin on the ground in Egypt. Some believe this is due to much of the water being either polluted or overly managed. But I did get this photo of a male red-veined darter.

Red-veined darter

March round up

March saw the end of my all too brief sojourn in Azerbaijan. Although I was only birding there over the winter I still managed 148 species including 21 lifers. Lammergeier, little bustard and dalmatian pelican were amongst the many highlights. It was a pity that even the hardiest birds had vacated the mountains during the depths of winter but it's an area I will certainly return to.

I moved to Egypt towards the end of March and started birding here in the Cairo area so my months total was a fairly decent 106 including just the one lifer, a smart male Ruppells warbler on the golf course where I live which was bird of the month.

Egypt may not have a huge amount of lifers for me but the deep south should hold some surprises and Western Palearctic rarities.