Birding in Bahrain

 

I stopped today and took some photos of the flamingos feeding in the mud flats. There were several colonies near the Sitra Bridge right outside of the capital city of Manama. They seemed quite content despite the large number of cars whizzing by them. We stopped the car and I got out and crossed through a construction area to get these images. The Bahrainis don’t seem to develop their water fronts. I couldn’t believe more people were not out watching these beautiful birds. They turned out to be Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus).

Flamingos are very cool birds. They wade through the water with their heads upside down, filtering for food. When I went down to the rocks on the shore, I could smell and see a stream of black effluent moving through the water. I wonder if this affects the birds?┬áReef-Egret as well a thousands of seagulls.(http://www.hawar-islands.com/)┬áHere is an amazing web site about the bird life on the islands of Bahrain. After looking at AJ’s photos, I need to get a better lens and camera.

Latest Reading: Three Cups of Tea – One Man’s Mission To Promote Peace…One School at a Time

I finally got around to reading Greg Mortenson’s book about his work in Pakistan. The book was on the New York Times Bestseller’s list for a long time. I won’t give a summary of the book but a few of my impressions. It was a good time to read the book to coincide with my trip to the Middle East. Mortenson is an “global nomad” having grown up in Tanzania and it shows in his ability to easily adapt to a foreign culture. He is being touted by the US media as the foremost authority of life in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the US military commanders are consulting with him. Is it that hard to take time to learn the language and customs of a country. He dives right into the culture of the Kashmir / Himalaya region by learning Pashtun, wearing the traditional costumes and figuring out the power hierarchy in the villages where he is trying to build schools. I think his global background gave him the mind set to do this very quickly, having grown up in a culture different to his own parents.

My Father-in-Law Buys Dates in a Market in Manama, Bahrain (December 2010)

I just don’t understand why the US foreign service and military doesn’t have an army of Greg Mortensons. It should be mandatory to use long-time in-country expats to understand how the US government form its policies and relationships with other nations. The US should be putting more effort and resources into developing people like him. I feel strongly about maintaining a strong military, but the US should put more into money into programs like Mortenson’s, like building schools in areas that need them. I feel sorry for those kids in the US Armed Forces that have never left the US, being thrown into situations where they need to interact with local civilians. We are going about it all wrong.

My visit to Bahrain the past two weeks has changed my perspective to the Middle East. I know that Bahrain is only a small part of the region, and is known for its tolerance, but this is a region that we can do much more to help, other than military intervention. They Muslims are ordinary people with normal hopes, dreams, fears, emotions, etc. Greg Mortenson has found this out, why don’t more Americans do so also?

 

Bill & Owen’s First Golf Game

 

We ended 2010 with a round of golf at the Royal Golf Club at the Riffa View Estates here in Bahrain. Owen and I played 11 holes against my nephew Sebey and his father, Diego. We played on the “Wee Monty” course, a par-3 short course especially designed for kids.

The Royal Golf Club is a private club located in the gated community of Riffa Views where my sister-in-law Alejandra lives. To have a lush, green golf course in the middle of the desert takes a lot of money and the membership fee for a one-year individual costs over $8,000. The main course was designed by Scottish professional Colin Montgomery. We got a teacher discount and had a fantastic day of camaraderie and spirited competition. It was Owen’s first time golfing and I want to thank Diego for helping him out and inviting us for a great day out.

For the record, on the 11 hole par 33 course we played, Owen shot an 83, Bill 65, Sebey 64, and Diego 42. We lost by two points in match play, with a four-shot handicap. I’ll be watching Euro Sport later this month, when the first stop on the PGA European Tour comes to the Royal Golf Club with the Volvo Championships.

We also said goodbye to Diego last night as he flew back to Ghana. Hermes leaves this evening. We still have a few more days here. It was great to see both of them again.

Hermes, Diego and I at the City Center Food Court in Manama