Sunday, 19 September 2010

EGYPT 3/9/10 - 8/9/10

After a terrible near 6 hour flight (no leg room, no tv working, annoyingly loud and drunk passengers etc) we were delighted when we eventually touched down at Sharm El Sheikh airport. We got through the airport surprisingly easily, we were expecting it to be a bit chaotic, but it seemed we were the only incoming flight at that time so things were a bit quiet. Unfortunately it was pitch black when landed so any wildlife would have to wait until the morning. Thankfully it was only a 15 minute bus journey to our hotel, after such a bad flight the last thing we needed was another tedious drive. The hotel was absolutely lovely (albeit in the dark!), and the room itself was excellent. After a trip to the restaurant for supper we had a leisurely stroll around the grounds to see what was what. It was quite a large complex, but buildings were nicely spread out and things werent too cramped. There were four swimming pools, and a big beach area so there were lots of areas for Maria to relax and laze for the week. I noticed that despite the size of the place there were very little trees, shrubs and bushes etc which didnt bode well for attracting any passing migrants. My instincts proved to be spot on! The next morning I got up and had a walk around the complex. The first bird of the trip was a Laughing Dove, closely followed by House Sparrows. Both of these were VERY common and were seen every day in big numbers. A male Kestrel was flying around the main reception area. It turned out that there was a family party of Kestrels that was using the receptions roof as their home, so they were also seen every day. The next bird was a lovely male Red Backed Shrike, and I watched him hunting for insects for about 15 minutes before he flew off somewhere else. I saw him a couple of times during the week, always in the same spot. The only other bird on that first walk was one of my absolute favourite birds, the Hoopoe. Alas, it was the one and only time I seen one for the whole week. And that was it! Just the five species in the hotel grounds. This proved to be the case for the whole of the week, until the very last day. On the friday morning before we came home we decided to have a couple of hours relaxing on the beach. This turned out to be a great idea, and thankfully I had my binoculars with me! First, a pair of Ospreys flew low overhead giving excellent views. Next, 3 Buzzards soared over. I have a feeling they were the subspecies 'Steppe Buzzard', but I dont really have that much experience in telling the difference. They definately had a noticeably rufous rump/tail. Next I got the first of two lifers that morning, a pair of BROWN NECKED RAVENS. I was a bit surprised I hadnt seen them before now, as I was led to believe they were reasonably common birds. But then, the best was definately saved for last! An absolutely glorious adult BARBARY FALCON glided low over the beach area, circled over the complex then headed back past us again. An absolutely terrific sight, and a great way to end the week.

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