Another frequent visitor to our rural little corner of Egypt’s Nile delta is this handsome fellow nicknamed by the birdwatching locals, “Abu Ghuttaas,” loosely translated as “Father of those who dunk.” Ducking under water and coming back up quickly (as the ducks do) is referred to in my husband’s french chocolate tongue as “making ghuts.”
A Pied Kingfisher, this black and white beauty is properly known by his Latin name, Ceryle rudis, but the Ancient Egyptians reportedly called him “cnHb.t” or maybe it’s “cn-nHb.t.” Gutenberg doesn’t tell us how to say it, but is certain this translates into “the one turning around the neck (when hovering above water spying fish),” — I tried very hard to confirm this with the local Ancient Egyptians, but everyone around here insists he is just Abu Ghuttaas.
This particularly handsome bird up on that wire is a male, as he has two bands of black around his neck. Similar to his more strikingly colored cousin, Mr. Fairuz, (Turquoise) the Collared Kingfisher, Abu Ghuttaas loves to hang around our home, hunting for fish in the irrigation canal. All of Egypt’s delta region is watered by a wide network of irrigation canals fed by the Nile River, and we commonly see many little fish swimming around in the canal from our second floor windows.
The electric wires coming to our home provide a perfect perch for many beautiful birds, and I always feel amazingly blessed and thankful to get such a perfect view from our windows. But I go way over the top of that when I get a good clear picture of a beautiful bird!! (or sheep, or donkey…lol)
Pied Kingfishers are not very picky eaters, hovering over water and diving straight down to capture fish, snails, bugs, it’s all good to Abu Ghuttaas. Eating on the wing, so to speak, they can continuously forage without needing to sit down to eat. Here’s a great photo by Karthik Easvur with all the stages of dunking, or “making ghuts,” superimposed on the image — it gives a great illustration of the amazing beauty of this handsome bird in action:
On the other side of our corner, near our garage, are several “Toot” (Mulberry) trees. This must be a favorite hangout for the beautiful birds of Egypt, at least in our rural little corner, anyway — it was up in a nearby Toot tree that I was able to capture a couple of great shots of Cleopatra, the Green Bee-Eater, another favorite of mine. Here’s one more photo of Abu Ghuttaas, perched up in a Toot tree:
Click here for the previous bird in this series: Abu Maghazil, The Spur-Winged Lapwing