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Jennifer Brumfield

Land of The Pharoahs

Smew


Jennifer Brumfield is a 22 year old natural science illustrator and avid birder currently residing in Akron, Ohio, with great hopes of returning to the land of the pharaohs in order to better understand Egyptian birdlife.

Her interest in birds spawned nearly from birth, and she has been able to travel all throughout the United States, as well as Belize, Netherlands, and Egypt, in search of her winged quarry. An accomplished bird artist, her work has been featured in numerous newsletters and journals, from ABA publications to her most recent project, 'The Birds of the Cleveland Region', published in 2005.

Her fascination with all living things has turned her sights more specifically towards dragonflies and damselflies as well as butterflies and moths. The 2002 publication 'The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Northeast Ohio' features 38 of her lifelike colored pencil illustrations.

Jenny attends a local college in Ohio while working on her home art business and leading local nature/birding tours. Her future goals revolve greatly around creating a life of a collaboration of illustrating and birding.


Perhaps one of my most moving experiences was a family trip to Egypt in July of 2004. The birder, nature enthusiast, archaeologist, and tourist alike will all agree that Egypt is a land not only of miles upon miles of sand (!) but that of a constant barrage of mind-boggling sights and sounds. Who could stand on the banks of Luxor, in the Valley of the Kings, and not feel the slightest revelation upon realizing that ancient pharaohs lie only a few feet below their sandals? And then to look up, to see Black Kites, Sooty Falcons, and Eurasian Kestrels patrolling the skies, and White-crowned Wheatears surveying the stoney terraces...

Who could not stand within a barren temple on the Island of Philae in Aswan, touch the cold chiseled granite pillars, and peer up only to see a family of Nile Valley Sunbirds glimmering in the light of the rising sun?Why July, in the heat of the summer where you will burn to a crisp upon stepping out the door? Why not, I say. Though a maximum of little over 150 specie is possible and extremely widespread through the different regions (desert, Mediterranean, Sinai, Nile, etc.), one is never bored nor disappointed in the least.

Our three week stay took us from Cairo west to the Sinai peninsula, south to the border of Egypt and Sudan, north along the green of the Nile, and northwest to the Mediterranean Sea. Habitat is relatively stagnant, save for lush corridor of the Nile. Our trip embarrased the chart at a mere 71 species. Taking into account that it was a FAMILY trip we were hard-pressed to make do with an unwaivering schedule. Of course, missing Painted Snipe was perhaps the best possible thing, for it gives me complete justification for a return trip!

In a brief list of highlights, I will mention the following species:
Sooty Falcon
Cream-colored Courser
Spur-winged Lapwing
Slender-billed Gull
White-eyed Gull
White-winged Tern
Whiskered Tern
Black-winged Stilt
Stone-curlew
Squacco Heron
Purple Heron
Purple Swamp-hen
Hoopoe
Pied Kingfisher
Great Spotted Cuckoo
Hoopoe Lark
Hooded Wheatear
Mourning Wheater
Desert Wheatear
White-crowned Wheater
Tristram's Starling (endemic on Sinai)
Sinai Rosefinch (endemic on Sinai)
Blue-cheecked Bee-eater
Little Green Bee-eater
Nile Valley Sunbird

This was the first time that we had the pleasure of being in the land of the Hoopoe. This odd little bird provided much joy and interest from even my non-birding mother, sister, and brother. This bird was the subject of many of my sketches, as well as this portrait.

Perhaps the most stunning collection of bird life was observed near Edfu, from our cruise boat on the Nile. Upon a single strand of sandy silt 'islands' and rush and reed beds rested a flock of nearly 150 Black-winged Stilts, 50 Spur-winged Lapwings, 25 Black-crowned Night-Herons, 13 Mangrove Herons, 50 Purple Herons, several hundred Little Egrets and Squacco Herons, 600 White-winged Terns, a single Whiskered Tern, 25 Moorhens, 15 Purple Swamp-Hens, a single Wood Sandpiper, and 3 Little Bitterns, not to mention 3 Black-winged Kites overhead, and Graceful Prinias singing from all directions. The density of birds and species at this happened-upon location can only be described in the true meaning of AWESOME. To see a congregation of 600 White-winged Terns was something to behold.

Typical residents of the wadis were wheatears - and up-close encounters were regular. Especially endearing is the White-crowned Wheatear - a pompous, shiny black creature with a clean white cap. They will sit darn near anywhere, from the tops of buildings to rocky outposts, to telephone poles and wires, and will even survey from the top of the WC.

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