Egypt, Sharm El Sheikh - 24th November - 2nd December 2013.

Published by Graeme Pegram (grais54 AT

Participants: Graeme Pegram, Ken Wilson.


Steppe Eagle
Steppe Eagle at Sharm rubbish tip

The reason for this trip was to finish off the year with a few colourful birds and some sunshine. This was our fourth trip to Egypt.

We flew from Bremen-Istanbul-Sharm El Sheikh with Turkish Airlines and stayed at the Tropicana Tivoli hotel in Sharm. A car was hired with the help of the hotel masseur which cost us 240 € for 5 days. Definitely too much but it was similar to the price we were quoted in Germany before we left so we were happy enough with the deal and the car. The hotel was good and the weather was great with temperatures between 24-29°C all week.

We of course had the usual problems with our optical equipment at customs control and we were also turned away from a checkpoint on a trip to Wadi Feiran. The only other problem for me was with the mosquito's! A trip to the Monastery at St Katherine's was a must. Otherwise only local birding was planned.

Monday 25 November.

Early start and a look at our new local patch. There were plenty of hotel gardens but also lots of waste ground where derelict or unfinished hotels stood. My first bird was a House Sparrow and Ken's a Pallid Swift! Bluethroat, Cattle Egret, Common Crane, Richard's Pipit, Pale Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Rock Dove (Ferel?), Sardinian Warbler, African Collared Dove, Hooded Crow, Chiffchaff, Wood Warbler, Kestrel, Stonechat, Grey Heron, Booted Eagle (pale phase), House Crow, Hoopoe, Wigeon. By 10:30 it was too hot for birding, so we spent the rest of the day at the hotel and organizing a car.

Tuesday 26 November.

We left the hotel at 04:00 and arrived at St Katherine's just after 08:00. The walk to the Monastery from the car park is not too far but we didn't know this and stopped a taxi while half way up, we arrived at the site one minute later! The taxi driver seemed pleased with his work and of course overcharged us!

We spent the morning and evening at the monastery and the rest of the time exploring the local desert. Tristram's Starling, Desert Lark, White-crowned Wheatear were common. Chukar and Sand Partridge were also seen or heard. A female Sardinian Warbler kept us busy for a while until we got a proper look at it! We decided to stay the night at a hotel in the village.

Wednesday 27 November.

We arrived back at the monastery before dawn and waited at the Camel feeding area. After a short wait (it gets light very quickly) we were suddenly surrounded by birds. Partridges and Pigeons flying in from the mountains and Desert Larks and Tristram's Starlings suddenly appearing in front of us. Quite a spectacle but still no Rosefinches!! On the way back to Sharm we saw; Brown-necked Raven, Black Kite, White-crowned Wheatear and Spotted Sandgrouse.

I photographed Cattle Egrets in the afternoon and we watched Champions League football in the T2 English pub next to our hotel in the evening. We were after all on holiday!

Thursday 28 November.

We left the hotel nice and early but at the checkpoint on our way to Ras Mohammed National Park Ken realised he had lost his Passport! He finally relocated the Passport at the English pub and we eventually arrived at the park an hour later! Slender-billed Gull, Yellow Legged Gull, Caspian Tern, Greater Crested Tern, Greater Sand Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Kentish Plover, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Curlew, Greenshank, Reef Heron (Blue phase), Spoonbill, Osprey, Pied Kingfisher Desert, and our first Mourning Wheatears.

We left the Ras Mohammed Park at 11:00 and headed for Wadi Feiran along the coastal road stopping to look at a Hoopoe Lark a Pallid Harrier and Brown-necked Ravens on the way. However, when we had almost reached our destination we were turned away at a checkpoint because of terrorist behaviour in the area and sent back via Sharm El Sheikh. We then took the other route to St Katherine's.

On the way we saw a Sooty Falcon. This time we stayed at the Plaza Hotel in St Katherine's and prepared for our final visit to the Monastery.

Friday 29 November.

Again an early start and the same spectacle as last time. Plenty of birds at the Camel feeding area but again no Rosefinches! We then walked a bit further up the mountain and saw two Scrub Warblers. After having breakfast with a couple of the local Bedouin kids we finally gave up and headed back to Sharm.

In retrospect we should have carried on up the mountain then I think we would have eventually seen the Rosefinches? On the way back we stopped at a rubbish tip just outside Sharm where hundreds of White Storks were circling above the tip. Steppe and Imperial Eagles, Black Kites, Mourning Wheatears and our first Hooded Wheatears were seen.

In Sharm we stopped at the Jolie Ville Golf Club but as soon as someone saw me taking photographs we were asked to leave! We then had a walk around the Botanical Gardens which are opposite the Golf Course and added Common Quail to our list.

Saturday 30 November.

We spent the morning walking along the Naama Bay Beach Promenade. Lots of hotel gardens on one side and the beach on the other. Bluethroats were common and we added Red-breasted Flycatcher to the list. We returned the car at midday and had a walk around our local patch. Saw a nice male Hooded Wheatear and a flock of Spanish Sparrows.

Sunday 1 December.

Early taxi to the Jolie Ville Golf Course. We finally got on the course but were not made very welcome! They eventually spotted us and picked us up in one of their vehicles and dropped us off at hole 19 where we had a coffee and re-assessed the situation. The Golf Course was a big disappointment anyway, it is of course not the right time of year for a long species list in Egypt! A juvenile Crane and a Greater Flamingo were the highlights. We then went to the Botanical gardens but only added Song Thrush to our list. Before we got a taxi back to the hotel we walked along the main road and found an obliging female Namaqua Dove to photograph.

Namaqua Dove
Namaqua Dove at Sharm El Sheikh

We saw a total of 85 species and if we had found the Water Treatment Plant in Sharm and also visited Wadi Feiran we would have had a few more. It is essential to get information on local sites (Google maps) before you go! None of the locals new anything about a water treatment plant or Sewage works and we wasted time aimlessly driving around!

Species Lists

Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope - Jollie ville Golf Course
Teal Anas crecca - Jollie ville Golf Course
Pintail Anas acuta - Jollie ville Golf Course
Chukar Partridge Alectoris chukar - St Katherine's Monastery
Sand Partridge Ammoperdix heyi - St Katherine's Monastery
Common Quail Coturnix coturnix - Botanical Garden
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo - Jollie ville Golf Course, Ras Mohammed
Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus - Sharm El Sheikh
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis - Common in Sharm
Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis - Jollie ville Golf Course, Ras Mohammed
Little Egret Egretta garzetta - Jollie ville Golf Course
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea - Jollie ville Golf Course
White Stork Ciconia ciconia . Sharm Rubbish tip
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia - Jollie ville Golf Course, Ras Mohammed
Black Kite Milvus migrans - Sharm El Sheikh
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus - Sharm El Sheikh
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus - Jollie ville Golf Course
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus - Jollie ville Golf Course
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo - Jollie ville Golf Course
Steppe Buzzard Buteo vulpinus - Jollie ville Golf Course
Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis - Sharm Rubbish tip
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca – Sharm Rubbish tip
Booted Eagle Aquila pennata – Sharm El Sheikh
Osprey Pandion haliaetus - Jollie ville Golf Course, Ras Mohammed
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus - Jollie ville Golf Course
Sooty Falcon Falco concolor - On the way to St Katherine's
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus - Found dead
Pharaoh Eagle Owl Bubo ascalaphus - Found dead
Coot Fulica atra - Jollie ville Golf Course
Common Crane Grus grus - Jollie ville Golf Course
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus - Jollie ville Golf Course
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula - Jollie ville Golf Course
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus - Ras Mohammed
Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus - Ras Mohammed
Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii - Ras Mohammed
Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus - Jollie ville Golf Course, Ras Mohammed
Dunlin Calidris alpina - Jollie ville Golf Course – Ras Mohammed
Ruff Philomachus pugnax - Jollie ville Golf Course
Curlew Numenius arquata - Ras Mohammed
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos - Jollie ville Golf Course
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus - Jollie ville Golf Course
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia - Jollie ville Golf Course
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei - Ras Mohammed
Heuglin's Gull Larus f heuglini - Ras Mohammed
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia - Ras Mohammed
Greater Crested Tern Sterna bergii - Ras Mohammed
Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus - Sharm outskirts
Rock Dove Columba livia - St Katherine's Monastery
Ferel Pigeon - Columba livia domesticus - Common
African Collared Dove Streptopelia risoria - Seen and heard near our hotel and at St Katherine's.
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto - Common
Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis - Common
Namaqua Dove Oena capensis – 1 Near Botanical Garden
Pallid Swift Apus pallidus - Tropicana Tivoli Hotel
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis - Ras Mohammed
Hoopoe Upupa epops - Jollie ville Golf Course
Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura - 4 St Katherine's Monastery
Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti – Common St Katherine's Monastery
Greater Hoopoe-Lark Alaemon alaudipes - 1 Seen at a lay-by on the coastal road north of Sharm
Pale Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne fuligula obsoleta - Common locally
Swallow Hirundo rustica - Sharm
Richard's Pipit Anthus richardi - Several seen near hotel
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis - Botanical Garden
Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta
White Wagtail Motacilla alba - Common Jollie ville Golf Course
Robin Erithacus rubecula - 2 at St Katherine's
Bluethroat Luscinia svecica - Botanical Garden, Naama Bay
Bluethroat Luscinia svecica cyanecula - Botanical Garden, Naama Bay
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros - St Katherine's
Stonechat Saxicola rubicola - Botanical Garden,
Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti - Ras Mohammed
Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens - Ras Mohammed
Hooded Wheatear Oenanthe monacha - Sharm Rubbish tip
White-crowned Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga - Common localy
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos - Botanical Garden
Scrub Warbler Scotocerca inquieta - 2 at St Katherine's
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala - Common
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla - 1 Jollie ville Golf Course
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita - Hotel grounds
Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva – 1 Hotel garden at Naama Bay
House Crow Corvus splendens - Common
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix - Common
Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis - Common
Tristram's Starling Onychognathus tristramii – Common St Katherine's Monastery
House Sparrow Passer domesticus - Common
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis -1 flock seen near hotel