Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Birds, baby donkeys and other interesting sights in the Nubian desert

Once we'd visited the Musawwarat temples we turned back and drove the 20km/12.5 miles back to the highway. We were going to find the same picnic spot we'd shared with our Australian friends the week before and have lunch there.

Not that we dashed back to the highway. The desert is full of exciting surprises and sights. I asked Grant to stop so that I could photograph the Landcruiser in the wide-open desert. When I'd finished taking photos, he pointed behind me. There was a convoy of women and children transporting water  on donkeys. They were very friendly and when they realised I was photographing them, they waved and called out to me.

After taking this photo, Grant pointed behind me

There was a convoy of friendly women and children carrying water on donkeys

Grant stopped frequently for me to try and capture the Black-crowned Sparrowlark who would not sit still for long enough. (see further down on in post) In between I spotted this bird (above) who looked like a bandit with a hood across his eyes! We identified him as a Red-backed Shrike (female spotted later, below)

We also stopped frequently when we spotted birds along the side of the tracks or in the bushes next to the road.

Female Red-backed Shrike which I spotted while we were following the Crested Lark

While I was photographing the exterior of the Lion Temple (yesterday's post) I first heard  this bird above me in the sky. He had a sharp whistle and looking up I saw him in display flight. When he dived down to the ground he gave a descending cheeoo and landed, immediately scrummaging for his meal in the dry sand and among the grass. He never sat for long and this photo above was eventually taken when we saw him sitting on a rock next to the track through the desert. Grant  identified him as a Black-crowned Sparrowlark - only found in North Africa,  from West to East

Juvenile Abyssinian Roller struggling to keep his balance in the wind on top of this shrub. The mature birds have tail streamers and are, of course, vividly coloured. Hopefully we see mama or papa Roller on our next trip to the desert and I can photograph them. Abyssinian rollers are also only found in a wide strip stretching from West to East in North Africa

Grant has seen this Crested Lark before but this a a first (Lifer)  for me!

Isn't he a beauty?

When we stopped for me to photograph this crested lark sitting on a branch overhanging the long grass, he was singing beautifully;  a three-note call: "tree lee puu" These larks are only found in North Africa in a strip from West to East.

Open air restautant with a view! The beautiful vista of Africa stretching out as far as the eye can see 
Modern man and his vehicle in Sepia tones... 

 ... and in Black and White
Grant tidies up the lunch remains while I snap away. Someone has to keep record of the trip (lol!)  

We passed a few men on donkeys. (In Africa you often pass people on donkeys).This baby donkey's human/owner was probably riding its mother. He was just strolling along in the road

Air-conditioned travel. This is a common sight in Africa. All  transport space is utilized to the utmost

The Arabic for baby donkey is Ţfl Ḩmār (teefle ghamar)
The Arabic for women and children is an-Nsāʼ Wālʼţfāl (a-nasaa walteefal)

Thanks to everyone for visiting my blog posts about the ruins and for your kind comments. Grant and I would love to run a tour company. We enjoy out-of-the-way places, we even find and visit them in South Africa! Grant loves to drive and is quick to spot all sorts of interesting things along the way. I love to talk and take photos. I wonder: would it work? Lol!


  1. Tour Company = GREAT Idea!!!

  2. Such a wonderful trip you have had, and you saw so much. I like all the different little birds you managed to capture and the ladies on donkeys looks so desert-like to me. Must of been very hot and dusty.

  3. Hi Jo, wow, it's been a dream for somebody living in this part of the world to at least set foot on that place too, but thanks to you, you shared your moments... which made me even yearn more to save and one day see that place too.... wonderful photos Jo as ever....

    coming by here with my new blog.. hahaha..

    All the best my friend! God Bless.


  4. Both your touring skills excel. You should lead folks around. I'd follow.
    I'm rather surprised how many birds you spotted. The Rollers I saw in ZA were always very colorful. I'm SO loving your desert adventures.

  5. You Know, I think you might be On to something! You never just might be viable! How's the economy looking from your vantage point?
    Love the photos...especially the baby donkey!

  6. How interesting, Jo! You always have the best photos to show us. I particularly appreciated the lark.

  7. It's really a very interesting excursion you are doing there !
    The birds look quiet unknown to me, but I have to admit that I don't know birds really only the classical once !

  8. Fabulous birds and I love the baby donkeys. Of course, I love baby anythings, I guess.
    The air-conditioned travel reminded me so much of Mexico in the 70s and 80s. It's probably still like that, once you get away from the touristy areas.
    I don't know if we'll ever get to Africa, unless we can find a cruise ship leaving from Vancouver, because long plane flights do me in, so it's great to read about it in your blog.
    Thank you for your kind words about our old Igor. We still miss him.

    Alberta, Canada

  9. I love all the photos Jo! I especially enjoyed the women on donkeys and all the birds. Such a delight to see birds I may never see in person. I think you and Grant would make wonderful tour operators :-) Let me know if you every get going with this ;-)

  10. Wow what interesting birds you have there. The earth is so red I bet you have red shoes and socks when yo get home. Is it hot when you picnic? I have a friend who's daughter is married to a Safari Tour Guide in Kenya .

  11. You're taking your readers on a virtual tour, so why not real tours? I think you'd be great at it.
    Love the bird shots. The donkey riders and the crowd in the truck are great, too. The baby donkey is adorable.

  12. I think you and Grant would make a perfect tour company---Grnat driving and you talking and snapping pix!

    Beautiful bird shots! I'm visiting Africa (well, Sudan) vicariously through your blog!

  13. Cool, I would love to see all these wonderful birds. Each one is beautiful in its own way. Great photos, Jo!


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo