Dahab, Egypt

Published by Mark Graham (helen.graham7 AT btinternet.com)

Participants: Mark Graham


Spent a week at the ambitiously named Happy Life Hotel in Dahab. Actually it lived up to its name. The staff smiled all week as did the guests. It wasn't really a birdwatching holiday as such but I was impressed by the birds seen with little effort.

The hotel is situated in an spectacular position at the foot of the Sinai mountains about 7 miles from Dahab itself. It has large grounds with plenty of well watered plants and vegetation. It has great potential in migration season being 100 miles due south of Eilat.

I looked around the hotel grounds every day and I saw a Hooded Wheatear most days including an individual on my balcony one morning. There were 2 Crowned Wheatear either within the grounds or around the hotel every day.

A female Collared Flycatcher was seen in the gardens most days as were some Yellow Wagtails [Feldeg]. A European Bee-eater flew past our balcony one day. It was around the hotel most days.

Spotted Flycatchers were around most of the week and Rock Martins were seen in good numbers morning and late afternoon.
Olivaceous Warblers could be seen or heard in the trees every morning.

The hotel supported a big flock of House Sparrow and Laughing Dove as well as a few Collared Dove. A Great Grey Shrike [Aucheri] and 2 Red-backed Shrikes including a juvenile were in the row of trees near the beach. When looking there one evening I was surprised to find a juvenile Rose Coloured Starling. It was still there in the same tree the next morning. There were wonderful walks either north or south of the hotel along the beach. Birds seen in this area were, Brown-necked Raven, Green Heron, Caspian Tern, Common Kingfisher, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Sandpiper, Hooded Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Red-backed Shrike, Great Grey Shrike, Rock Martin, Laughing Dove, Collared Dove, House Sparrow, Spotted Flycatcher and Kestrel.

The hotel ran a shuttle bus every day into Dahab [free of charge]. To my surprise it stopped 200 yards from the Dahab Water Treatment Works. I've visited some grot spots in my time to view birds but this took the gold medal. It was in the middle of a boulder strewn landscape of dumped rubbish and half built shacks. There was a pack of mean looking dogs keeping guard and when the wind was in the wrong direction the smell was indescribable. Nevertheless the birdwatching was so good I went most days..

The ponds supported a flock of around 50 Coot and 50 Little Grebe as well as 12 Mallard. The prize bird was a juvenile Whiskered Tern. I also saw 2 Squacco Heron every day as well as a juvenile Reef Egret. There were 5 Black-winged Stilt, 6 Greenshank, 4 Grey Heron, 4 Redshank, 6 Ringed Plover, 4 Common Sandpiper, 1 Common Snipe, 1 Shoveler, 1 Cattle Egret,1 Kestrel and a large flock of Yellow-legged Gull. There were at least 10 Spur-winged Plover and large numbers of Rock Martin about. A European Bee-eater was seen most days as well as Laughing Dove, Hooded Crow, Collared Dove, House Sparrow and Rock Dove. There were always a good number of Yellow Wagtail there with a maximum of 18 one day.

About 20 minutes walk from the hotel there was a magnificent wadi called Wadi Qunai. Although there were few birds there I saw a Long-legged Buzzard,1 Rock Martin and 4 Brown-necked Raven.

We stayed till the 30th August. So far south is Dahab that I didn't see my first Barn Swallow, Swift or Red-rumped Swallow till the last day. I would have loved to revisit in a few weeks time when the migrants arrive in force.