Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Birds in El-Fayoum/ Siwa

Birds in El-Fayoum/ Siwa

20.00 last night I departed Siwa and arrived in Lake Qarun after a tiring journey of 14 hours. again i have chose another wonderful location to take photos this being one for birds, already i have taken 10 different species 4 being first time sightings,I have so much to blog And so many photos to sort, I do not know where to start.the internet was off more than on over the past few days , So I will leave Siwa out for now when I get back to my flat i will make a new site just on Siwa and Shali. these next photos are from lake Qarun,



they say there are 2000 of these birds on lake qarun this photo was taken in a small area. as I travelled about 5 kolometers along the lake I saw 7/8 flocks as large as this. my estimate is double what they say.

Lake Qarun (Birket Qarun) in the Fayoum of Egypt

ONE of the reasons I have come back early is because I have been travelling around Egypt the wrong month to see the birds, not that I did not see any but most of the birds that come to Siwa oasis and the Lake Qarun migrate here in the winter and from what the local people told me in both places the best time to see the birds is in February /March ,
The Lake qarun has become such a cesspit that many of the birds do not go there any more the numbers have been dwindling over the past several years. one reason and the main reason is the pollution,
most of the surrounding villages including the Town of El Fayuom deposit the sewage in the lake Fayoum is 27 kilometres from the Lake, there are some people in Egypt who care about what is happening to the lake its supposed to be a wildlife protected area , the reason I left there was the police on the lake, On my second day in the Helnan Hotel, where I stayed after being told by yet another lying Egyptian taxi driver,this is the only hotel open near the lake. what he should have said was:- this is the only expensive hotel in the area:-
many other hotels and retreats have been closed by the powers that be
This next piece is taken from a eu page,
The condition of Lake Qaroun has deteriorated rapidly, since inlets and outlets are sealed off and drainage from approximately 482 million square meters of surrounding agricultural land filters into the lake, said Wafaa Amer, chairman of the environmental conservation division of the Ministry of the Environment. The drainage then evaporates and settles on the bottom of the lake as salts and nitrates.
Amer delivered her statement yesterday during a meeting of the agricultural committee within the People's Assembly in response to an information request filed by Hasan Abdel Ghufar. She asked for an inquiry into the declining fish levels in Lake Qaroun and for an investigation of threats from nearby industrial projects and wastewater.
An enormous amount of wastewater has found its way into the lake during the last year alone, said Amer, emphasizing that the pollution was due to poverty in the surrounding area and the harsh penalties imposed on farmers for committing infractions. "If I wanted to punish these people I would first give them an alternative way to make a living, instead of fining them and increasing the severity of the penalties, seeing as they have no other source of income," added Amer.
Egypt could meet the fish demand of the entire Arab world by establishing fish farms on the Mediterranean coast, ( this is what the laid off factory workers of Fayoum were told before mking the fish farms in Fayoum) she said, arguing, "We could emulate Cyprus, which uses helicopters to harvest the fish from its farms. After the fish are frozen, the helicopters could bring the fish back to other countries." She added, "It does not make sense for us to eat fish taken from waters in which we dump our sanitation and agricultural wastewater."
Kuwaiti businessman Nasir el-Kharafi has proposed seven projects to make use of the lake's water, and two factories have been shut down for polluting the environment, Amer confirmed.
IT DOES NOT MENTION THE BIGGER PROBLEM OF OIL POLLUTION :- MOTOR BOATS ARE NOT TO BE USED ON THE LAKE Many local people have boats with outboard engines that have not been used on the lake for several years these are tucked away in backyards and front gardens of the owners,
for fear of the police confiscating the boat + a heavy fine .
while walking along waters front where all the fishermen have their sail and rowing boats. I saw some police chasing each other in inflatable dinghies on the lake I asked The guy I was with what was going on and was told they do this all the time. Has the sail boat done something wrong I asked, he said no. do they stop the sailboats for money, like the do in Luxor and Aswan:- I asked. sometimes he said depends if they have small fish. What do you mean I asked again: the fishermen can only take a certain size of fish from the lake, some abide by the rules others do not. because we local people prefer the smaller fish for grilling. they also taste much better because the longer they are in the lake the more pollution the take in,and this makes a bad taste on the fish, after seeing the murky waters of the lake its quite audible that the lake is polluted to quite a high content, also the salt levels are very high. this I found out before I read up on the last article.

So I asked again if you the locals cannot have motorized boats what are the police doing with seven ,
Surely they can inspect catches as the boat comes to shore. all they need then is one police man in a patrol vehicle in each area of boat landings. this is Egypt Mr Tony. they make the law and they break the laws. no matter if the yanks or the un. or Our minister of environment make the laws. laws in Egypt are meant to be Brocken. and another man became quiet knowing he had said too much, its so sad that the Egyptian people cannot do anything to protect their living and livelihood, and being lied to by guvornment officials. that they can grow and feed fish to the whole Arab countries.
I had decided to stay for another week, the previous day I met the owner of a fish restaurant and after a very nice meal of local shrimps and local veg Etc, we had a talk and one thing led to another and the offer of a flat was brought up. , I went to see several of the flats in the vicinity of the restaurant an the Lake front.
and after a lot of bargaining and telling him I was almost an Egyptian etc, I got the price down to 60le per night no further negotiation on a weeks rent, and of I went to enjoy my rather expensive last night in the hotel. I used all its commodities like a free swimming pool and a free bird watch from its terraces overlooking Lake Qaroun, I got down to do a bit of blogging and downloaded my photos of the day from the camera. Close to the phone was the dial for this and that, . why not I thought spoil myself one time:
On the dressing table there was also a cuisine price list, pot of tea with milk , lovely, 10le. Then I came to my favourite sweet, crème caramel. yummy yummy, price 20le.
and again I thought why not, picked up the telephone dial 2 for room service. Hello room service,
Ana ais wa chai hallib wa crem caramel. bait 107,shukran'
easy one would think in a all Egyptian staff hotel.
say again please,
then I tried English.
Please may I have a pot of tea with milk, and a crème caramel, in room one hundred and seven.
say again:-
ok so i asked in my native tongue.
Gai cwpaned o de a creme caramel. os gwelwch un dda.custudle cant a saith,
and again the room service said say again please, and I wondered if I was talking to a robot,
put the phone down and went to the reception to order.
He must of understood what I said even though it was in Arabic, because he asked for my room number.
and off I toddled back to my room,
half an hour later my order came, with the bill of 44le. one cup of coffee, and crème caramel with a blob of synthetic cream and a cherry on top, the cherry was on the cream not the cream and cherry on the crème caramel, The cream may have filled half a teaspoon so the cream was dwarfed by the glazed cherry.

Did not make a fuss I thought maybe the rich always get coffee and a blob of cream with their creme caramel makes up for the price they have to pay in their everyday life, and by this time all the anger had gone and I paid the man. one thing that put a smile on my face was the amount of sugar sleeves they gave there was sweetener, white sugar, cream coloured sugar but no brown sugar, and that to me as a very rare coffee drinker is an offence. and the coffee was the worst I have had while living in Egypt, and I did not even order it.the following morning still in Enjoy my money hotel mode,
I was up at first light. taking a dip and watching the birds coming in to eat whatever was left over from the night people,s food. bits of bread some nuts maybe, usually plenty of nuts about.

and the hooded crows taking advantage of the wind coming from the lake. they seemed to be playing king of the castle but this was crow of the spike on the spire,
then the kestrel came in landed a stones throw from the pool, and here I was in the pool where my canon was not allowed, even with my underwater camera by the time I got out of the pool for a position shot of the kestrel behind the flower bed it would have flown away. then the sun rose from its nights sleep beyond the horizon. and it was time to get a shower and a hot bath , preen myself for breakfast in case the pretty young Chinese girl who was full of complaints about the service the day before breakfast, might be waiting for me to join her.
The day before she waited 15 minutes before I CALLED A WAITER OVER, THOUGHT I MAY HAVE IMPRESSED HER WITH MY MASTER OF THE ARABIC LANGUAGE EVEN THOUGH MOST WAS IN SIGNALS LIKE GET OVER THERE NOW A YOUNG LADY IS WAITING TO BE SERVED, I MEAN ,I MEAN SERVICED, NO I MEAN SHE WANTS SOME BREAKFAST, breakfast the first day was chosen from the menu. I was unsure of what to order as I had never been in a hotel with a full breakfast menu, I once ran a hotel here in Egypt and we have a B&B in Wales. so know from experience some of the food will not be fresh. so first I ordered 2 boiled eggs. thinking that they will boil while I have my cup of pure orange Juice and cornflakes with a pot of tea,
and with my boiled eggs please may I have some toast, yes , and off he went to the kitchen area or was it the fridge. five minutes later he emerged with all my offerings on a silver tray , well stainless steel anyway,
the boiling water came in a flask with all the trimmings to make tea, ie sugar and tea bags, the milk came with the cornflakes , they where not really cornflakes but looked like large round white rice crispies,
then there was quason and sweet cake with two white bread rolls all stale the fool was foul not even any spices in it only olive oil, beans and olive oil do not go well with each other fool needs some spices, so that was left after the first taste, eggs seemed to have been warmed up from the day before, as the yellow was stone cold, but no prob as I like eggs whatever as long as they are cooked, boiled eggs with toast I like a bit runny same as a fried egg I like to see that a chick has not started to form,
The tea making was the reason I thought I would spoil myself and order in my room six cups for 10le,

the second days breakfast was a running buffet type,
nothing that impressed me! no boiled eggs? so I ordered 2 with toast as there was a loaf of bread on the buffet table, no toast he said, ok i will have the quason, two slices of bread and the eggs came luke warm with cold yellow. but there was seconds of everything as I was the only person up at a stuppid hour of 6.30.

I could have had a lie in breakfast was on the go from 6.15 till 930. god knows what the breakfast would have been like at 9.30. but at 6.30 the crepes and the quason where fresh the tea was hot but not the eggs, and there was proper cornflakes, like the day before the pure orange juice was from a carton thus it was maybe 50% juice so I had the local drink of hibiscus that is always good as long as its not diluted to much. as i was leaving the breakfast room the young lady appeared looking very just got out of bed, well at least she said good morning. Or was it what you looking at,

This next bit is taken from Helnan foyer brochure. and to my mind cost me 340$ .
The Auberge was built as a hunting lodge by King Farouk in 1937, and has seen many famous personalities cross its threshold,mostly for hunting parties.
It also became a favoured retreat for political figures.
Today the hotel is a first class hotel, with many amenities that can only be found at the auberge while visiting the fayoum area and Karoun Lake, on which the hotel maintains its own port.
what port are they talking about if its this one in the above photo its not a port there are no ports on the lake
and the place is very well maintained with its crumbling walls even the defence walls have crumbled away.
One of the amenities is so polluted the only thing you will get for free is dysentry if you decide to go swimming outside of the hotel boundary walls.
the internet in fayoum was very limited it worked in the garden but not very well in the room, so i just did a couple of spots , packed my gear and headed off to my what i thought would be my new flat for a few days,
on arrival in the village there was not a soul about so I had a walk down the lakes side to where i saw the police playing about the day before,
took a few shots of the fishing boats

and one of the police boats.all spanking new with the best yamaha 55 engines available,

as I was heading towards the end of the what is the cornish a rather nasty policeman confronted me . yalla imshi yalla, I just stood and stared him out who the f******* hell are you swearing at I said in English., yaallaaa, he said again. I want to visit the mosque I said in Arabic, then he got really pissed. thinking I could speak arabic, he then called for another cop, as I walked back the way I came he was shouting and being very offensive,WELCOME TO THE TOURIST. WE NEED YOUR MONEY BUT NO PHOTOS.
The only place on my travels I had no problem with the police was in Siwa, and as one man said we have no problems here, the Sheihk runs Siwa the police only come when we have the bloody yanks staying in the paradise hotel .tomorrow we have a bus load of C I A people coming, and 2 lorry loads of bloody shirta to guard them,

that morning my back was really playing up its had three weeks of carrying bags from Luxor to Cairo then Suez, Ismalea,Port Said , Alexandria, Marsa Matrouh, Siwa then the Fayoum. that was going to be my final stop anyway another week would have been nice to see the obelisk and the pyramid of Medium. but if I stayed it would have been more back pain . the final nail in the coffin as to my decision to head home was not the police they do not bother me, I am used to their bad behaviour of trying to frighten people, if I offered him money as Alli said they would have let me take all the photos I wanted, and gone back into his piss stinking hide hole.
Remember I made a deal for the flat? As I arrived back in the coffee shop the deal had gone up to 150le per night, the sheroot driver had told them he dropped me off the night before in the posh hotel,
and like most of these Egyptians the price had gone up. so I told him the deal from last night or I go back to luxor, and you can leave the flat empty for six months. no he said . I will rent the flat, to who I said a local fisherman for 250 per month. then he too got aggressive because I know to much about Egypt.

Just as I ordered a cup of tea before heading off to luxor. I met 3 guys, they are in the previous blog
They had come from Cairo 92 kilometre for some Lake Qaroun fish, they had bought the fish when they to decided to have a break before heading back home, then they where asked by the restaurant owner if they wanted him to cook some of the fish they had bought from his uncle,
when i had finished my tea i turned my chair to sit facing the lake, and the three guys had started to tuck into the fish they had twoo types of fish cooked seven of each they affered me to eat with them i told them i had a big breakfast, and was not hungry. then i asked if i could take their photo , as in the last blogspot,
then when the meal was almost finished they ordered another seven fish to be cooked, by this time we had learned a bit about each other. they asked what was I doing;-I said I was on my way to luxor. no train till 12. midnight so no rush I said. 3 hours later they said we need a sisha, come with us we will take you to fayum from there catch a bus or taxi to Beni Suef for a train to luxor. one of the guys not going to mention names . .
had been to fayuom a few years ago and remembered a nice retreat place by the lake some 20 kilometres from where we where,
but before we left the cool box had to be replenished first with some ice seeing they are not getting back to Cairo untill late, and there was need to buy more fish, scince they had eaten most of the first buy,
then we headed off .on arrival in the retreat all was derelict. and a face appeared in one of the windows,
welcome welcome then we had a story on how the governments bully boys come around and demolish a few walls and then close the place or as in this case have made concessions of making the place up to European standards, the owner had one of the retreats chalets facing the lake and we all went an the roof, what a fine view across the lake and along its shore lines, then I was told of the days they had birds in cages and a couple of shetland ponies drawing a cart with tourists on board, they had paddle boats in a man made lake off the Qaroun lake. all gone he said but today his aim was to take our money he only had one sisha pipe no tobacco so we are offered tea on his fine balcony, while one of the guys takes the owners work boy for some tobacco and tea to a nearby shop. the nearby shop was 30 minutes 15 each way using our car,

it was nice sitting up on the balcony just the place to be a retreat no mosques within hearing just peace and quiet, I was going to ask the owner if I could stay a few days . untill he gave us the bill for one sisha and four cups of tea, not forgetting we had to go for the stuff, and we headed off disappointed into the rather nice sunset heading for Cairo, Al Fayuom, on arrival in Fayoum we stop in a coffee shop to have some food, and a sisha, there one of the guys made it his business to find out how to get me to beni suef, one hour later I was in a service mini bus, PHOTOS OF THE POLLUTION,OF WHAT THE PEOPLE AND WILDLIFE HAVE TO PUT UP WITH NEAR LAKE QAROUN.
Originally named Crocodilopolis, then Arsinoe, Medinet El-Fayoum, often quoted as the “land of roses”, was the main place of worship of the crocodile god, Sobek. Apparently, during the ancient time, crocodiles were adorned with gold and fed honey cakes and meat by the priests of interest are the huge wooden waterwheels.

The waters of the Bahr Yusef are distributed throughout the oasis from Medinet, the capital of the Fayoum. Approximately 200 of the great waterwheels are located throughout the oasis. The Seven Waterwheels, a Fayoum landmark, are surrounded by mangos, palms and willows. A great stone obelisk was erected in honor of Senwosret I in Abgig during the 12th Dynasty.
Located about 80 Km to the south west of Cairo, Fayoum emerges on the map as a bud blooming from the stem , Fayoum has played an important role during the different eras of the Egyptian history , traces and remains can assure these facts from different periods like “ geese of Maidum” Hawwarah pyramid from pharaonic periods “ Fayoum portraits” from Graeco – Roman and different Monasteries from the Coptic period , Fayoum is well – know for its unique “ Sawaki “ which means “ water wheels” as it has many water stream and that explains the name “ Fayoum “ which is derived from word “ vium” which means water in ancient Egyptian language.

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