Sunday, 26 January 2014
Sharm el Sheikh
Myself and Deb decided to try a different location for a holiday this year so we tried Sharm el Sheikh basing ourselves at the Royal Albatros Moderna, after a five hour flight we were soon out of the airport and on our way to our hotel only 20 minutes away arriving around 8.30pm. The porters took care of our luggage and we were shown to our room, we freshened up and went for dinner in one of the six restaurants had a few "Pharaoh lagers" and headed for bed. I was up at first light and after a few wrong turns (the hotel complex is huge) managed to get to the beach just as the sun was coming up, I found this was the best time to visit as by 8.30 the beach started to get busy with sun worshipers and the birds would move off elsewhere. First birds seen were Kentish and Ringed Plovers followed by Grey Plover, Greenshank, Hooded Crows, Caspian Terns, Sooty Gulls, three flyover Rock Martins, Little and Cattle Egrets, Laughing Doves and a Kestrel, after two hours birding I joined Deb for breakfast and firmly settled into holiday mode! Opposite our hotel was a semi finished building with a few pools dotted around which contained a good selection of waders, I visited there most evenings (much to the amusement of the security guards at the hotel entrance) just as the sun was going down, birds seen were, Spur winged Plovers, Redshank, Greenshank, Ringed Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Cattle Egret, Kestrel, Rock Martins, Hooded Crows, Bluethroat, Stonechat and a juv Steppe Buzzard. The pools more or less had the same birds all week but the beach area which contained the longest jetties I've ever seen had different birds most days which included, White eyed Gulls, Sooty Gulls, Caspian Terns, Pied and Common Kingfisher, Reef Egret, Mangrove Heron, House Crows, Brown necked Ravens and Greater Sandplovers, the fish viewed from the jetty were incredible I can understand why this place is a snorkelers/divers paradise. I did a little homework before coming to Egypt and via facebook managed to get in touch with a Dutch birder Marjo Glerum who has lived there since 1999 and arranged for her to pick me up from my hotel at 6.00am and take me to "Sharm Pools" the posh name for the sewage works which was a 25 minute drive away, also joining us for the day was John from Preston (didn't get your last name,sorry). We arrived at the pools for sunrise and the first birds seen were 150+ White Storks then as we scanned the pools we picked up Little and Temminck's Stints, Common and Green Sandpipers, Pallid and Common Swifts, Black winged Stilts, Kentish and Ringed Plovers, Cattle Egrets and a pair of Black necked Grebes along with commoner species. I scoped a distant blob on the mountain and picked out an adult Eastern Imperial Eagle what a cracking bird later in the day there were also three juvs in amongst the numerous Black Kites but the highlight were the Sandgrouse. They started to arrive at about 8.30 the noise was incredible,first in were the Crowned Sandgrouse quickly followed by a flock of 100+ birds which contained both Spotted and Crowned Sandgrouse, they gave excellent views as they came in to drink, driving from the pools Marjo picked out a 2cy Steppe Eagle and on the drive home I managed to pick out two Hooded Wheatears and a single White Crowned, we stopped off at the golf course on the way back to the hotel but the only birds seen were Black Kites. The only other place visited was Nabq Reserve but this was quite disappointing, previous trip reports had said this was a good place for larks, pipits, wheatears etc but the only birds noted were Stonechat and a Kestrel there was some compensation on the walk back however in the form of a Fan tailed Raven. Sharm el Sheikh is a great place to visit not just for birdwatching,the people are friendly, the hotel was one of the best I have stayed in, the food was incredible and the whole complex was spotlessly clean, myself and Deb are already looking to return later in the year this time for two weeks when I'll venture a little further afield to St.Katherines monastery etc John the Preston birder had an incredible 31 Sinai Rosefinch! In total I saw 55 species with 12 lifers not too bad considering it wasn't a birding trip if you really put the effort in I have no doubt 100+ species is achievable, the only downside of the trip was going up a notch on my belt I'm missing the four o'clock doughnuts already!