Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Birdwatching in Cairo

Last April I joined a group of birdwatchers during a Birdwatching City Walk that took place in the Heliopolis suburb of Cairo. Despite the heat of the day, I enjoyed the walk and learned a lot from it, not to mention meeting some interesting new people who were fond of nature.

The birdwatching city walk was co-organized by Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE), an Egyptian NGO aiming to conserve nature, and Earth Keepers which is a grassroots initiative promoting sound ecological practices that was born through a collaborative effort from plant and nature lovers living near and around a street garden in Heliopolis.

House Sparrow
House sparrow
Photo by Watter Al Bahry
Even though birdwatching has been practices in Egypt yet the novel thing this time was to carry it out in the city! Watter AlBahry, wildlife photographer, Administrative Officer at Nature Conservation Egypt and co-founder of Egypt Geographic, led the group pointing to various birds and identifying them to us, handing over binoculars to us and distributing bilingual (Arabic and English) booklets containing photos and names of birds found in Egypt. Watter was later joined by Mr. Ahmed Riad, a long time birdwatcher, also from NCE, who further provider us with knowledge about birds, their types and their behavior. It was just brilliant!

Olivaceous Warbler
Olivaceous Warbler
Photo by Watter Al Bahry
Among the birds identified during that day were:
  1. House sparrow
  2. Bee-eater
  3. Common bulbul
  4. Kestrel
  5. Olivaceous Warbler
  6. Hooded Crow
  7. Laughing Dove
  8. Feral Pigeon
From among the very interesting pieces of information that I had learnt on that day was that birds that forage in groups often have specific patches and areas in which they control. That is, each group of birds have their own spots of land in which they forage. In the past, I had thought that birds just fly about and eat from anywhere. I never knew that each group of birds had their own areas. It is like dogs which have territories that they defend in clans.

I also experienced the notion of identifying birds first through their songs before actually spotting them with binoculars or with the naked eye.

Photo by Watter Al Bahry
The idea of having birdwatching inside the city was great. I live the concept of urban ecology. I do hope that we repeat such a birdwatching day in the city once again and expand it further!

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