Sunday, 26 September 2010
ST KATHRYNS MONASTERY
St Kathryns Monastery is famous as being the site that Moses seen the burning bush on Mt Sinai. More important than that though, its famous for being the most reliable site in the area for seeing Sinai Rosefinch! So for any birder visiting the Sharm area, this place is a must! After a looooooong two and a half hour bus journey, we pulled up at the car park at the base of the holy place. I had a nice walk around the car park area in the hope that the Rosefinches would just be there and I'd get a very easy tick. Alas, no. But I did see the first of many WHITE CROWNED WHEATEARS, a new bird for me. I then headed for the Monastery itself. After a brief look inside, I decided I was wasting precious time and went back outside and looked for birds! A handfull of Crag Martins were flying around overhead, and the usual Laughing Doves were being their usual conspicuous selves. The Monastery is surrounded by a sizeable garden, so most of my time was spent exploring this. Straight away I picked up another of my main targets, TRISTRAMS STARLING. They were heard before they were seen, but there was a nice flock in the tallest trees in the garden. There were lots of warblers flying around. Willow Warblers and Lesser Whitethroats were by far the commonest species, but there were also two Olivaceous Warblers, and a possible Bonelli's Warbler but I couldnt quite pin it down. The garden also had three Spotted Flycatchers but, annoyingly, still no Rosefinch. For the last hour I decided to explore the mountain tracks surrounding the Monastery. More White Crowned Wheatears were seen and also two MOURNING WHEATEARS (again new birds for me) but I failed to see the main bird. Before I knew it it was time to head back to the bus. I was devastated. I had dipped on the prize bird, and the main reason I had come to this place. I really wasnt expecting this. Not even the sight of yet another new bird in the car park, BAR TAILED LARK, could cheer me up. It wasnt a nice journey back to the hotel.