Cruising the River Nile

This was our regular mid-winter break and, to be completely different, we chose a cruise on the River Nile sailing from Luxor to Aswan. The main purpose of the holiday should have been to look at ancient Egyptian sights but being on the river gave lots of insights into the life of Egypt and the chance for some birding.

The cruising itself was pretty luxurious on boats similar to the above. They are floating 4/5 star hotels with about fifty cabins, many of which were empty at this time of year so we had lots of space on the boat. They all have a large sun-deck on the top and my wife, Moongrower (Mg) from GoY, and I were normally seen at a table at the rear of the deck with our binoculars, cameras and bird book.
The Nile is a wide, shallow river with many sandbanks and it is on these sandbanks that the birds are most easily seen.
img src=”http://media.ispyabird.co.uk/photos/blog_photo/image/1208/main/Bird_haunt_Luxor_1.jpg” alt=””””
Bird haunt Luxor

Little Egrets Luxor
Little Egrets
Birds on sandbank including Cormorants, Little Egrets, Grey Herons + others
The objective of the cruise was to visit the temples and tombs of Upper Egypt, and we certainly saw plenty! By the end of the week we all felt ‘templed out’.

Temple of Hapshetsut

Temple of Isis on Philae Island
Horus – God of the Sky – even stone birds are of interest!
All along the river we were able to watch birds. I am including some bird pictures here but as we don’t have a long lens qualty photographs were limited. The most common bird was the Little Egret

Little Egret immature
and we also saw many Grey Herons

Grey Heron
and,of course, many birds remained unidentified
Unidentified
I think that the title of ‘Most Interesting Bird’ would go to the tiny Pied Kingfisher which entertained by hovering in the air some 10 meters above the water like a large black & white butterfly. No picture I am afraid.
An extra interest for both Mg and myself was being able to observe the environment and the way of life along the riverbanks. There were a surprising number of small towns along the river but mostly the land was down to subsistence farming along the very narrow strip of fertile land along the banks

>
although in places the desert came right down to the waters edge.

It almost never rains here so the field have to be watered by artificial irrigation from the river.

We noted many small pumping stations as well as some huge ones along the banks of the Nile and this well being pumped by a water buffalo.

Camels are used as work beasts and not just for tourist trips as shown by these two transporting sand.

At the upper end of the Nile in Egypt is the town of Aswan and the furthest point of the cruise. There is also the only botanic garden that we saw on Kitchener Island. It was round here that we saw the lilac coloured Palm Dove and a Hoopoe!

Palm Dove

Hoopoe
Out on the river it was a welcome surprise to see one of our neighbours, an Osprey. Well, it might live in the Culbin Forest in summer, who knows?
Osprey
The Nile cruise boats are not the ideal platform for a birding holiday as they move too quickly for the detailed study of a bird and, when moving in convoy, create quite a lot of disturbance for the wildlife. However, birding is not the main reason that most people go on this sort of holiday and, for us, it was an affordable trip.
The bird book that we took with us was a slim volume “Common Birds of Egypt” by Bertel Bruun which we bought from Amazon. It is very selective but much better than nothing. We also took a print out of a blog by Howard Broughton who did the same cruise in January 2001. http://www.surfbirds.com/Trip%20Reports/nile.html
On our final day we finished in style with an early morning balloon trip which allowed us to see the sights of Luxor from a different angle.

Luxor Temple
I hope that you enjoyed this blog of our trip and that it is not too long winded. If it is blame Bonkersbon for encouraging me!
Goodnight
List of birds identified on the trip; there were many more that we did not identify:
Cormorant; Little Egret (lots of); Purple Heron; Grey Heron; Black Kite; ?Purple Gallinule; Spur-winged Plover; Dunlin; Black Headed Gull; Yellow Legged Gull; Tern like bird but without forked tail; Pied Kingfisher; Carrion Crow; Glossy Ibis; House Sparrow; ?Flamingo; White Wagtail; Palm Dove; Hoopoe; Osprey (with fish); Swallow.

Comments

24 Jan, 2011
015
aster said:

What a wonderful experience for you both,I'm glad you enjoyed yourselves . You have some lovely photo's and I especially like the hoopoe :)
The Nile is such an interesting environment and of course a lifeline for so many people.
Thank you for putting this together,not long winded at all :))

24 Jan, 2011
P1220732
bonkersbon said:

Welcome back Bulbaholic happy to take the blame for 'encouraging ' you to post this as very much enjoyed it .

The scenery the birds and the symbolism make this very interesting and I m very envious . Mind if anyone deserves a break from our winter those of you in Scotland should be first in the queue ..

To end with a balloon flight seems perfect .. if you cant beat the birds then join them ! Thanks again for sharing this , wonderful.

Ps the wader you had trouble I D ing looks like a black winged stilt a close relative of the avocet.

24 Jan, 2011
P1000246_edited_1
muddywalters said:

Wonderful blog Bulbaholic and Moongrower! I'm going to mark this date on my calendar for 2012, all I need to know now is where are you going to take us (blogwise!)?

25 Jan, 2011
Wren_nest_building_edited_2
littlewren said:

really enjoyed reading your blog.....lovely ......

25 Jan, 2011
Fulmar_cropped
bulbaholic said:

Thank you all for your kind comments. It makes the effort of posting a blog on this site worthwhile.
And thank you for your suggestion of Blacvk Winged Stilt, Bb. I have checked thios on the web and agree that it is very likely. The problem with a small, selective bird book is that so much is missed out whilst a thicker, more comprehensive book has too much information.
We only book this holiday in November, mw, so there is still a little time to go before we decide on next years adventure. Actually, we did have ideas when we came home but they are turning out to be v e r y expensive!

25 Jan, 2011
P1000246_edited_1
muddywalters said:

Ah, such is life bulbaholic!

25 Jan, 2011
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lincslass said:

Thanks Bulbaholic , pleased you and Mg enjoyed your holiday, a wonderful trip all round obviously, I much appreciate you sharing your photo`s....

25 Jan, 2011
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robashfield said:

Thought for a minute I was actually on the boat with you!!!Brill blog thanks bulbaholic!!

25 Jan, 2011
P1150022_1
jane said:

Lovely blog...and thank you for taking us along with you Bulbaholic.Can just inagine yourself and Mrs MG on that deck..how wonderful and what a refreshing break from all that snow and ice ! I liked the statue of Horus...and exotic Palm Dove and Hoopoe too.Also the strange sight of the desert reaching to the edge of the Nile...makes you want to see over that ridge...though suspect its a vast sea of desert !! Intrigued as to your plans for next year !!!

25 Jan, 2011
Dipper
david said:

Sounds like a wonderful trip!! You saw a lot of lovely birds along the way. I really like the pic of the statue of Horus, and could spend hours on end looking for bird symbols in the hieroglyphics. Many Thanks for sharing.

29 Jan, 2011
P1150022_1
jane said:

Looks as if you got home in the nick of time...judging by events on the news recently !!

29 Jan, 2011
Fulmar_cropped
bulbaholic said:

I agree, Jane. Moongrower and I are following the news closely having just been so involved with Egypt. In the UK we deplore the gap between rich and poor but the gap is a hundred times wider in Egypt, and it shows. I don't think that tourists will be deliberatley harmed but if President Mubarak tries to quell the revolution with force then the consequences will be serious for all.

1 Feb, 2011
P1150022_1
jane said:

Following it all too Bulbaholic....looks like things reaching a head now that the army have pledged no violence towards the people..who seemed to have found the confidence to protest without fear of reprisals. Wonder how it will all end...

1 Feb, 2011
Fulmar_cropped
bulbaholic said:

Don't know at the moment, Jane, but at 9:30pm tonight it looks like coming to a head very soon.

1 Feb, 2011
P1150022_1
jane said:

See what you mean...just caught up on the BBC 10 o clock news.September to leave..they arent having any of it...hmm. Things moving fast..but I do wonder what the alternative will be considering the two main factions..

12 Feb, 2011
P1150022_1
jane said:

Well what a difference a fortnight makes!! The end of an era but what lies ahead ??

13 Feb, 2011
Fulmar_cropped
bulbaholic said:

We will find out next January when we just have to return.

13 Feb, 2011
P1150022_1
jane said:

Good for you.The state of disarray cant have been good for the tourist industry.Lets hope it recovers quickly.

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