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Egypt, Sharm el Sheikh -19th -26th November 2012

Published by David Ousey (david.ousey AT yahoo.com)

Participants: David Ousey, Clive Greenley, Jeff Slocombe.

Hotel Royal Albatros Modena, Nabq, Sharm el Sheikh

Myself and my good lady needed to try a different location for a holiday, so we tried Egypt and we were not disappointed. The 5 hour flight from Manchester and the short transfer to the hotel went well and we were soon shown to our rooms. The hotel has 6 restaurants, 3 swimming pools and enough staff to cater for your every need. I can really recommend this hotel as its location, almost the most northerly in Sharm,p uts you only a 15 minute walk onto the Nabq Reserve. The Egyptians we met are all very helpful and friendly. One major consideration was security in Sharm, but have no fear they take it very seriously and go out of their way with checkpoints etc.

Sites Visited

Royal Albatros Modena beach and gardens - not much happening on the sea in November apart from Sooty, White-eyed Gulls, Caspian Tern, Pied and Common Kingfisher and waders going to roost in the evening. The "pools" almost opposite our hotel had a good selection of waders, Bluethroat and Coots. These will probably get filled in as building work progresses. In the gardens between Albatros and Mirabel Hotels a small flock of Indian Silverbill could be found.

Nabq Reserve

This is the area about a 15 minute walk north from the Albatros hotel passing Tiram Sharm Hotel on your right and down a dusty trail keeping the sea on your right and passing through a checkpoint (this was unmanned all the week of my visit, but you may get charged a small fee to enter at different times of the year). A few bedouin huts are on the beach and a mosque is in the distance, this is the southern end of the reserve and was good for wheatears, larks and raptors with a few gulls and terns passing over the sea. I spent a few early mornings in this area and met up with Teeside birder Clive Greenley and his wife. We saw Hen and Montagu`s Harriers, 4 species of wheatear and Bar-tailed and Desert Larks.

Nabq Mangroves

A mile or so further north are the Nabq Mangroves, we visited this area by using a taxi from our hotel after negotiating the price first. We had met another birder, Jeff Slocombe from South Wales by now and did a lot of trips out together. Using the theory of "more eyes, more birds". We reached the mangroves at 6-30am (The daylight hours were 6-00am till 5-00pm). Egrets, herons, kingfishers, doves, gulls and lots of waders were seen. Regarded as the most northerly mangroves in the world and they stretched out a little further north. An enjoyable area to bird in.

Nabq Golf Course

We only visited this area once as it is largely unfinished, with pools and large grassy areas with waterfowl, wheatear, doves and raptors, but still worth a trip. Reached by heading north from Albatros Hotel to the roundabout and taking the road west for a couple of hundred yards and looking out for the golf course signs. Walk onto the course and you should not be asked to leave if you tell them you are birders, obviously early morning and late afternoons are the best times to visit!

Sharm Pools (Sewage area)

This is THE place to visit.Y ou will need to take a copy from Google earth of the pools or a map to show the taxi driver or your rep in the hotel, as they can't understand why anyone would want to go to such a place! It's brilliant in the mornings with the sandgrouse coming in to drink, but there seemed to be more birds at the pools in the afternoon/evenings, storks, raptors and waders. The afternoon trip had to endure more quad bikes than anyone has ever seen, that are moving close by the pools constantly, the birds seemed totally unconcerned by them. A word of caution at this point, beside the smell and the large amount of dead White Storks be careful where you walk as there are a lot of uncovered drain holes that you could fall into! A possible answer to a previous trip report about the amount of dead Storks is this: we saw a dead bird in the den of some feral dogs that had pups who could have caught the stork? The dogs in the area kept a distance away and presented no threat. Also, insect repellant is a must!

St Katherine`s Monastery

Its a two and a half hour trip up to this area and on the journey all I saw, bird wise were a few corvids. We set of at 6.30am after having booked my trip through our hotel rep at a reasonable £35-00, for this you get taken around the monastery and have a little time to see the target birds: Sinai Rosefinch, Desert Lark, Tristram`s Starling and White-crowned Wheatear, Pale Crag Martin. Then the place gets overun by lots of "tourists". It`s a little cooler up there so extra clothing might be needed. We later called in to Dahab and had a light lunch picking up House Crow in the area.

19th November

Spent our first day on the beach and later walking onto the Nabq Reserve. Watching a Reef Egret at close distance, a very showy Pied Kingfisher, lots of Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers, Kentish Plovers almost digging in for the night in the sand. Then my first Sooty and White-eyed Gulls, Rock Martin and a beautiful Mourning Wheatear on the Nabq Reserve. 18 species on the day.

20th November

An early start and onto the Nabq Reserve, a passing Great Cormorant was a bit of a surprise, leaving the dusty path I ventured in the general directions of the mountains only a couple of hundred yards and came upon a flock of Bar-tailed Larks, then a splendid Persian Wheatear(ex Red-tailed Wheatear) was found. At this stage I saw another couple of birders a man and his wife and went over to them and the man named Clive Greenley said, "There is a Hen Harrier over there".W e watched the bird and after a chat decided to "team up" for a few trips out and future walks. We booked to go to Sharm Pools by taxi from the hotel, again negotiating the cost before setting off. I then met up with Jeff Slocombe and his wife who were staying in the same hotel. He said he had been to the pools in the morning but would come with us again in the afternoon. The three of us set of on the 25 minute trip to Sharm Pools,our taxi driver agreed to pick us up at 5.30pm in the dark, giving us a chance to catch up with Lichtenstein`s Sandgrouse. The White Storks seemed everywhere, at least 150 were counted,3 Common Crane flew above us as we watched ducks and lots of wader species, at least 15 Temminck`s Stints, Water Pipit, Bluethroats, Mourning Wheatear all seen really well. We waited in vain for the Lichtenstein`s Sandgrouse. 40 species trip total.

21st November

The three of us visited Nabq Mangroves and explored this strange habitat with mangroves growing on a dead coral reef? Lots of Common Kingfisher,Pied Kingfisher, Mangrove Heron, Spoonbills and a few waders not occurring anywhere else on the trip, Oystercatcher, Curlew Sandpiper and Turnstone. African Collared Doves seen very well here. Whilst heading back to base we saw a cracking Hooded Wheatear, along with Sardinian Warbler and a small flock of House Sparrows that had us "foxed" for a short while! A trip onto the Nabq Golf Course in the late afternoon that had a large flock of Black Kites in the distance. A few waterbirds. Coot,Teal and the noisy Spur-winged Plovers, but the highlight were Persian and Mourning Wheatears sitting on rocks giving great views and allowing Jeff to take some photos.The pool close to the hotel had 3 Cattle Egrets on it. 54 species trip total.

22nd November

Sharm pools visited, being there by 6.20am. 200 or so White Storks in the area, Marsh Harrier flew past, lots of waders and waterfowl around along with 2 Swallows, Rock Martins. The real highlight came at 7.15am as a single Crowned Sandgrouse flew over the pools calling, we hoped it would not be the only one! At around 7-30am a strange call was heard and about 4 groups of Spotted Sandgrouse began flying fairly low over the pools but not stopping to drink. This spectacle continued for about 20 minutes holding us all spellbound at the sight and sounds of these birds. We began to count them and got to 82 Spotted Sandgrouse, when we noticed that there were about 10 Crowned Sandgrouse in with them. Four of the Crowned landed and gave fairly close views and allowed Jeff to get some close pictures. The other birds must have landed out of sight to drink and by 8-00am all the sandgrouse had gone from the pools. 12 Water Pipits and 6 Bluethroat were counted as we prepared to leave. Near to our taxi and in a small tree 4 Chiffchaff were seen. On the journey back,about a mile from the pools a large aquila eagle was seen perched on a rock only 25 yards from the road, we stopped and watched the bird, a juvenile Eastern Imperial Eagle, then another juvenile with an adult flying around with lots of Black Kites. They must be breeding in the area? Also by the roadside sat on a pylon was a Fan-tailed Raven and a couple of Hooded Crows. 65 species trip total.

23rd November

The hotels around Albatros are from the north: Tiran Sharm, Royal Albatros Modena, Jaz Mirabel, Tropicana Sea Beach, Regency Plaza, Raouf International(temporarily closed whilst we were there)Coral Beach and Laguna Vista. We walked south until we reached the Raouf International and watched a Buzzard that perched fairly close to the path. A Red-rumped Wheatear had been seen in the hotel gardens but we did not see it. A diminutive Namaqua Dove flew past us,that was a bit of a shock after only seeing lots of Laughing Doves. We met up with Clive and his wife who told us about a couple of Slender-billed Gulls on the sea near to the Laguna Vista Hotel, we could not locate them but a few Spannish Sparrows were seen. We stopped at the Raouf International and saw another birder looking at something I asked him what he had seen and he said,"Red rumped Wheatear, we thanked him and enjoyed great views of the bird perched above our heads. More Bluethroats in the various hotel gardens on the way back for breakfast. My afternoon stroll was up the beach to the Tiran Sharm Hotel and watching an Osprey sat on a small tower lots of waders coming into roost including 42 Greater Sandplovers, Dunlin and Grey Plover. 71 species trip total.

24th November

Trip to St Katherine`s Monastery. Early start, not much on the way or coming back except: Camels and Bedouin. As written earlier, you must get there nice and early to avoid the large amounts of tourists and you will be pestered(in a nice way) to buy various trinkets/guides about the place. You should get the target birds with a bit of effort though. Don't forget to search in the Bedouin camel area`s for,D esert Lark and Sinai Rosefinch.N ice trip! 78 species trip total

25th November

In the hotel gardens between the Albatros and the Mirabel 4 Indian Silverbills were seen. Onto the Nabq Reserve bright and early with Clive, by now Jeff had departed and gone on a Nile Cruise with his wife. We soon had 22 Bar-tailed Lark and 3 Desert Larks with them,n ice to see them side by side for comparison. Then a rather strange pipit was seen,not one that either of us had ever seen before and after much deliberation and checking Clive`s Collins guide a Long Billed Pipit was arrived at. Desert and Hooded Wheatear were again seen here. A few waders were seen on the pools facing the hotel along with Bluethroat. As I got inside my hotel a Kestrel called and a Levant Sparrowhawk circled around for about a minute and gave good views,I hoped that the bird would fly towards Clive`s hotel but it did`nt.An evening stroll down the path south through the hotels held Slender-billed Gulls, 3 Black tailed Godwits, Buzzard and 2 Lesser Whitethroats. In the evening as we sat on the hotel balcony a Squacco Heron flew past. 84 species trip total.

26th November

Last day, so a trip onto the Nabq with Clive. The only new species was an amazing Montagu`s Harrier that stayed in view for about 10 minutes and ended our birding on a really high note. Lots of waders and a Sooty Gull, 4 White-eyed Gulls, Caspian Tern and Desert and Bar tailed Larks ended our birding. 85 species was the final trip total.

Conclusion

Excellent place to visit not just for bird watching! The people are friendly and courteous, our hotel was excellent apart from not much entertainment in the evenings. The sun bathing is in dry heat so your are not sweating all the time. I met 2 other birders Clive & Jeff and we blended well and enjoyed some cracking birds!

Species Lists

Great Cormorant.1 Nabq Reserve 20/11.
Mangrove Heron.2 Nabq Mangroves 21/11.
Cattle Egret.3 on pools in front of Albatros Hotel 21/11.
Squacco Heron.1 Albatros Hotel 25/11.
Little Egret.1 pools infront of Albatros Hotel 26/11.
Reef Egret.Seen daily near water.
Grey Heron.1 Nabq Mangroves 21/11.
White Stork.150 Sharm Pools 20/11,200 22/11.
Spoonbill.3 Nabq Mangroves 21/11.
Mallard.Sharm Pools 1 20/11 & 22/11.
Pintail.3 Sharm Pools 20/11.
Teal.10 Sharm Pools 20/11.2 Nabq Golf Course 21/11.
Osprey.1 Tiran Sharm Hotel beach 23/11,1 Nabq Reserve 25/11.
Eastern Imperial Eagle.3(2 juvs/1 Adult)1 mile from Sharm Pools towards Nabq 3 22/11.
Black Kite.Nabq golf course and quarry 100+ 21/11,Near Sharm Pools 40+ 22/11.
Hen Harrier.1 Nabq Reserve female 20/11.
Montagu`s Harrier.1 Nabq Reserve 2nd winter male 26/11.
Marsh Harrier.Sharm Pools 1 male 22/11.
Buzzard.1 Seen in gardens of Raouf International Hotel 23/11.
Levant Sparrowhawk.1 first winter female Albatros Hotel 25/11.
Kestrel. Common in Sharm area.
Coot.6 Sharm Pools 22/11,4 on Pools in front of Albatros Hotel most days.
Common Crane.3 Sharm Pools 20/11.
Oystercatcher.3 Nabq Mangroves 21/11.
Little Ringed Plover.1 Sharm Pools 22/11.
Ringed Plover.Common in coastal areas.
Kentish Plover.Common in coastal areas.
Lesser Sand Plover.Seen on hotel beaches daily,best count 20 23/11.
Greater Sand Plover.Seen on hotel beaches daily,best count 42 23/11.
Grey Plover.4 on hotel beaches 21/11,2 on 23/11.
Spur Winged Plover.Common in most coastal areas.
Turnstone.1 Nabq Mangroves 21/11.
Dunlin.2 on pools in front of Albatros Hotel 22/11 & 23/11,10 on 26/11.
Curlew Sandpiper.1 Nabq Mangroves 21/11.
Temminck`s Stint.15 Sharm Pools 20/11,10 Sharm Pools 22/11.
Little Stint.4 Sharm Pools 22/11.
Green Sandpiper.Fairly common around pools in Sharm.
Common Sandpiper.Fairly common around pools in Sharm.
Redshank.Common in coastal areas,pools.
Spotted Redshank.Seen on Pools in front of Albatros Hotel most days.
Greenshank.Common in coastal areas,pools.
Black Tailed Godwit.3 Nabq Reserve 25/11.
Curlew.1 Nabq Mangroves 21/11.
Slender Billed Gull.2 Dahab Beach 24/11,7 Nabq Reserve 25/11.
Sooty Gull.10 flying along beach behind Albatros hotel 19/11,4 Nabq Mangroves 21/11.
White Eyed Gull.4 flying along beach behind Albatros hotel 19/11,4 Nabq Reserve 21/11 & 1 26/11.
Caspian Tern.1 on beach behind Albatros hotel 19/11,1 Nabq Reserve 26/11.
Spotted Sandgrouse.82 Sharm Pools 22/11.
Crowned Sandgrouse.10 Sharm Pools 22/11.
Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon.Abundant.
African Collared Dove.6 Sharm Pools 20/11 & 22/11,10 Nabq Golf Course and 10 Nabq Mangroves 22/11.
Laughing Dove.Abundant.
Namaqua Dove.1 flying between Raouf international & Regency Plaza Hotels 23/11.
Common Kingfisher.6 Nabq Mangroves 21/11,1 Nabq Reserve 23/11.
Pied Kingfisher.1 on beach behind Albatros hotel 19/11,2 Nabq Mangroves 21/11.
Desert Lark.1 St Katherine`s Monastery 24/11,3 Nabq Reserve 25/11 & 1 26/11.
Bar Tailed Lark.25 Nabq Reserve 20/11,22 25/11,5 26/11.
Pale Crag Martin.6 near St Katherine`s Monastery 24/11.
Rock Martin.Seen daily in small numbers around Sharm area.
Swallow.1 in front of Albatros Hotel 19/11,2 Sharm Pools 22/11.
Long Billed Pipit.1 Nabq Reserve 25/11.
Water Pipit.1 Sharm Pools 20/11 & 12 22/11.
White Wagtail.Abundant near any water source.
Yellow Wagtail.1 Albatros Hotel garden 19/11.
Grey Wagtail.1 on Pools in front of Albatros Hotel 21/11.
Bluethroat.10 Sharm Pools 20/11 & 6 22/11,1 daily on Pools in front of Albatros Hotel.
Desert Wheatear.1 Nabq Mangroves 21/11,1 Nabq Reserve 22/11,25/11 & 26/11.
Mourning Wheatear.1 Nabq Reserve 19/11,1 Sharm Pools 20/11,2 Nabq Golf Course 21/11.
Hooded Wheatear.1 Nabq Reserve 21/11,22/11 & 25/11.
White Crowned Wheatear.6 St Katherine`s Monastery 24/11.
Persian Wheatear(ex Red Tailed)1 Nabq Reserve 20/11,2 Nabq Golf Course 21/11.
Red Rumped Wheatear.1 Raouf International Hotel gardens 23/11.
Stonechat.Fairly common in most areas.
Lesser Whitethroat.2 Raouf International Hotel gardens 25/11.
Sardinian Warbler.2 Nabq Mangroves area 21/11,1 Nabq Reserve 26/11.
Chiff Chaff. 4 Sharm Pools 22/11.
Hooded Crow.3 near Nabq Golf Course 20/11,1 near Sharm Pools 22/11.
Brown Necked Raven.2 Sharm Pools 20/11,7 on journey to St Katherine`s 24/11.
Fan Tailed Raven.2 Sharm Pools 22/11,1 on journey to St Katherine`s 24/11.
House Crow.1 near Dahab 24/11.
Tristram`s Starling.8 St Katherine`s Monastery 24/11.
House Sparrow.Abundant.
Spanish Sparrow.6 Regency Plaza Hotel 23/11.
Sinai Rosefinch.2 St Katherine`s Monastery 24/11.
Indian Silverbill.4 Albatros / Mirabel Hotel Gardens 25/11.

85 species seen in total.