Sunday, 19 September 2010
SHARM POOLS (EVENING TRIP)
The Sharm Pools is quite a posh name for what is actually the sewage works! But its a must visit for anyone going to Sharm El Sheikh. My target bird famously uses the pools as a drinking hole just as its getting dark, so I decided to arrive quite early to have a good look round before the sun started to set. As the taxi approached the area, even from a fair distance I could see hundreds of WHITE STORKS both on the ground and in the air. On getting out of the taxi, I realised that hundreds was more like thousands. Everywhere you looked there were Storks, I've never seen anything like it. They werent just around the pools, they were in the surrounding desert and even in the mountains beyond. It was an astonishing sight. I started to look around the pool area and noted an awful lot of waders. As usual the ones that immediately stood out were the Spur Winged Plovers, mainly cos they're so noisy! The other waders seen were Sanderlings, Common Sandpipers, Green Sandpipers, Marsh Sandpipers, Little Ringed Plovers and a nice big flock of Little Stints. House Martins and Barn Swallows were hawking for insects. Three White Winged Terns were joined by a single Whiskered Tern. The only ducks seen were four Garganeys. While scanning the banks for the waders I noticed a large bird on the far side. I checked through my bins and was delighted to see a juvenile EGYPTIAN VULTURE. I slowly crept closer and closer to get better views, but in all honesty I neednt have bothered cos it didnt seem to mind me being there at all. After a while it took to the air and effortlessly soared off. Shortly after this I got an even better raptor display! While watching some Yellow Wagtails I noticed a small bird of prey out of the corner of my eye. It was soaring and gliding and swooping over one of the pools. Then remarkably a second bird joined it, almost playing in mid air! I didnt even need my bins to see what they were, a stunning pair of SOOTY FALCONS! It was an amazing display and one of the highlights of my trip. By this point the sun was starting to go down, so I decided to relocate to the lower overflow ponds and wait for the main target. Its amazing how quickly it gets dark in the desert! Within 20 minutes the sun was all but gone, and I started to think I'd never see anything at this rate. But as I scanned the far bank with my scope there they were in all their glory - LICHTENSTEINS SANDGROUSE. Four of these absolutely gorgeous birds were drinking on the other side of the pond. I never heard them arrive, which is usually the best way of locating them, so I was extremely lucky to spot them. I watched them as it got darker and darker, until I literally couldnt see a thing!