Egyptian Nightjar in a wadi in Egypt

PharaonenziegenmelkerOrginally we wanted to stretch our legs at a wadi. We boot a little on the sandy ground. Depending on where you step, you step deep. The remains of the loamy layer lie on the ground like tiles after drying out. So the wadi has water at times. Some of the bushes are still green, some are already brown. The bushes of tamarisk are up to 1.5 meters high; but mostly much lower down to knee height. The bushes facing the road are taller and tend to be greener.

That could be a habitat for the Scrub Warbler or Streaked Scrub-Warbler (Scotocerca inquieta). I play the reputation. No Answer. As we are about to return, we suddenly startle a beige bird from under a bush. Wow, that’s the Egyptian Nightjar (Caprimulgus aegyptius). I think we scare 3, but at least 2 individuals. The flight doesn’t go far. Even within the wadi, the Egyptian Nightjars fly under almost the nearest bush. There we shoo up a individual again. Very nice flight photos and also some shots of Egyptian Nightjars resting in the shade are possible.

But a Egyptian Nightjar also sits down well camouflaged by its plumage in the sand about 20 meters away from me. When the Egyptian Nightjar sits in the shade, it’s not that difficult to spot; of course if you know roughly where he’s sitting. Nevertheless, it is interesting that we did not actually find every chased Egyptian Nightjar by a long shot. On the contrary, the recovery rate was probably below 30%. If necessary, these birds seem to tackle small “escapes” on their little legs from one bush to neighboring bushes.

2 days later I’m back in the same area at sunrise. The well-known spot is reached at 6:30 a.m. without much ado. I grab the monopod and the flash too. To be on the safe side, I take a few more habitat shots of the nightjar location. Behind me I hear a melodic, quite monotonous, clear singing all the time. It’s the Greater Hoopoe-Lark (Alaemon alaudipes) as I remember after thinking about it. A total of 5 individuals of the Crowned Sandgrouse (Pterocles coronatus) fly over me in the steel-blue sky. I’ll walk around the area even further. I scare up one, maybe 2 more Egyptian Nightjars. A total of at least 3 individuals seem to have chosen this wadi as their home. I startle the Egyptian Nightjars again and again, as they never fly further than about 50m away in a pointed, rather slow flight – it is compared to that of the Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) – and then seek refuge under a bush again . But sometimes they sit quite openly on the floor.

All in all I spend a good 1 hour at this beautiful, increasingly warmer spot. It’s time to extend my presence to other places as well. So we drive back up the road. But only about 20 km. Then I stop at another, more sparsely overgrown wadi that I noticed on the way there. I slide down the steep road embankment and then set off in the tried and tested way. Nothing! Nothing. No African Desert Warbler (Sylvia deserti), no Streaked Scrub-Warbler, let alone a nightjar.

A word about the wadi. During our visit we quickly see that the long-lasting temperatures of well over 30 degrees and only little rain have allowed the soil to dry out. The clay soils then get deep cracks. These are bad times for soils. Due to the persistent heat and drought, they can hardly absorb any water. Experts then speak of so-called wetting inhibition. This also explains why quite a few people drown in wadis. When precipitation falls in the desert, sometimes heavy rain drops. When it comes to heavy rain events, the soil is overwhelmed. Water penetrates into the gaps and cracks. But the small pores in the soil are not receptive. This then leads to the fact that the soil is not properly wetted, properly moistened. This means that there is a risk of flooding when it rains. Then the rain can bring many liters per square meter.

The obvious connection of the Egyptian Nightjar to this very manageable area is interesting. For example, if a Egyptian Nightjar felt cornered, he didn’t just fly across the road that runs on a causeway to the other side, but flies around the photographer and then lands in the more sparsely vegetated end of the wadi. As for the habitat, it must be said that it was pure luck that we took a short break at this point. Then, nevertheless, finding the Egyptian Nightjar right away, and then also 3 individuals, could of course speak for the fact that the Egyptian Nightjar is much more widespread than the sparse reports – e.g. in eBird – have suggested so far. In terms of habitat, however, this wadi is not at all comparable to any place along the Lake Nasser that we have seen so far.

Surprisingly, the Egyptian Nightjar looks rather greyish and not as brown as it is described as a Egyptian Nightjar in the relevant books (such as Bird guide of Europe, North Africa and the Near East” by L. Svensson, P. Grant, K. Mullarney and D. Zetterström). is pictured.

It should be added that the Egyptian Nightjar also uttered sounds. It sounded like quaaak, quaaak. It only remotely corresponds to the calls I took from xeno-canto.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic.  Trips to remote places like this one to capture images not only of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. The nice image of the blog is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Picture Shop” very soon. Just give a message, if could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

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