, pub-5063766797865882, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Bird Life in the Delta | Walking Through Egypt ~ Ancient Egypt Facts

May 3, 2012

Bird Life in the Delta | Walking Through Egypt

Bird Life in the Delta, 1868
Reverend A.C. Smith

Bird Life in the Delta
I shall always regard that railway journey [to Cairo] as the greatest ornithological treat I ever had in my life. I was not altogether a perfect novice in observing the birds of other countries, yet I was quite amazed at the profusion of birds which presented themselves before my astonished eyes on that memorable occasion. I had been told by more than one friend of Egyptian experience, when in England, that with the exception of hoopoes, pigeons and clouds of water fowl to be seen on the sandbanks, but never approached, I should find no variety to reward my exertions; and though I knew . . . that such was by no means the case, but only the opinion of careless travellers, who generally have one eye closed to the objects of nature around them, yet I certainly was not prepared for the abundance as well as the great variety which this first days’ journey brought before my eyes.

Immediately after leaving Alexandria, as we skirted the shores of Lake Mareotis, water fowl of many species literally swarmed: grallatores, as well as natatores, in incredible numbers, well waited on by raptores. I shall allude to all these birds again on an after page of this volume; suffice it to say here that vultures of three species, hawks, kestrels, buzzards and harriers were to be seen far and near during our entire passage through the Delta. Here there were dogs on one side, vultures on another, tearing at the carcase of a dead camel, while hooded crows were always at hand to take their share. There were herons and spoonbills in abundance, and flocks of the russet-backed heron fearlessly attending the ploughman, just as rooks are wont to do; though the Egyptian teams were certainly as strange to our eyes as were the birds which followed them, to wit a pair of camels, or a pair of cows, or a camel yoked with a cow, or even a tall gaunt camel with a diminutive donkey, an oddly matched pair mdeed. There were sandpipers and little ringed plovers running on the shallows, flocks of geese and ducks roused from the adjoining marshes by the noise of the advancing train, and for the first twenty miles or so, gulls and terns of various sorts.


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