Sharm El Sheik, Egypt November 2013

Posted: December 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

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Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt -18th -25th November 2013
by David Ousey (david.ousey @ yahoo.com)
Hotel Royal Albatros Modena, Nabq, Sharm el Sheikh

After enjoying last year’s holiday in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, we decided to go again and avoid the English climate. The 5 1/2 hour flight from Manchester and the short transfer to the hotel went well and we were soon shown to our rooms. The hotel has 6 restaurants, 3 swimming pools and enough staff to cater for your every need. I can really recommend this hotel as its location, almost the most northerly in Sharm, puts you only a 15 minute walk onto the Nabq Reserve. The Egyptians we met are all very helpful and friendly. One major consideration was security in Sharm, but have no fear they take it very seriously and go out of their way with checkpoints etc.

Sites Visited

Royal Albatros Modena beach and gardens – not much happening on the sea in November apart from Sooty, White-eyed Gulls, Caspian Tern and Common Kingfisher and waders going to roost in the evening. In the gardens between Albatros and Mirabel Hotels a small flock of Indian Silverbill could be found.

Nabq Reserve

This is the area about a 15 minute walk north from the Albatros hotel passing Tiram Sharm Hotel on your right and down a dusty trail keeping the sea on your right and passing through a checkpoint (this was unmanned all the week of my visit, but you may get charged a small fee to enter at different times of the year). A few more bedouin huts are on the beach than last year and a mosque is in the distance, this is the southern end of the reserve and was good for wheatears, larks and raptors with a few gulls and terns passing over the sea. I spent most early mornings in this area. Four species of wheatear and a single Bar-tailed and a few Desert Larks. Along with Blackstart, Desert Warbler, Brown-Necked Raven, Hooded and House Crow in the area.

Nabq Mangroves

A mile or so further north are the Nabq Mangroves, my wife and I visited this area by using a taxi from our hotel after negotiating the price first. We reached the mangroves at 7-15am (The daylight hours were 6-00am till 5-00pm). Egrets, herons, kingfishers, doves, gulls and lots of waders were seen. Regarded as the most northerly mangroves in the world and they stretched out a little further north. An enjoyable area to bird in.

Nabq Golf Course

We only visited this area once as it is largely unfinished, with pools and large grassy areas with waterfowl, doves and raptors, but still worth a trip. Reached by heading north from Albatros Hotel to the roundabout and taking the road west for a couple of hundred yards and looking out for the golf course signs. Walk onto the course and you should not be asked to leave if you tell them you are birders, obviously early morning and late afternoons are the best times to visit!

Sharm Pools (Sewage area)

This is THE place to visit. You will need to take a copy from Google earth of the pools or a map to show the taxi driver or your rep in the hotel, as they can’t understand why anyone would want to go to such a place! It’s brilliant in the mornings with Spotted and Crowned Sandgrouse coming in to drink and a good selection of birds to watch. 39 species on my first visit and 45 on my second visit. The raptors include:-Steppe Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Black Kite and Levant Sparrowhawk. A word of caution at this point, beside the smell and the large amount of dead White Storks (up to 60) be careful where you walk as there are a lot of uncovered man holes that you could fall into. There are a few dogs in the area, but they tend to keep their distance. On one of my visits a number of Camels drank from the pools, now we know why their breath smells! I have yet to see any workers in the area. Also, insect repellent is a must!

 
Nabq Beach Road (North to South)
A small tarmac service road runs between all the hotels and the beach in the Nabq area. This is a good way to see Bluethroat, warblers, wagtails & gulls etc.


18th November

Spent our first morning on the Nabq Reserve seeing Desert Wheatear, Desert Lark, Great Grey Shrike (elegans) and almost standing on a Scrub Warbler that just stood there and gave great views! I later walked down the beach road. Watching a Caspian Tern fishing over the sea, lots of Greater Sand Plovers, Kentish Plovers digging in for the night in the sand. 25 species on the day.

19th November

An early start and a trip to Sharm Pools, after negotiating a price with the taxi service at the hotel, always haggle you can save a lot! The drive is around 25 minutes and if you want the taxi driver will stay in the sewage area and wait for you. I found around two ½ hours should be allocated for your stay at the pools. The large flock of White Storks are what first grab your attention, search amongst them as I found a Great White Pelican and then a Black Stork. The pools hold lots of waders and a few ducks and Bluethroat, Red throated Pipit and Water Pipits show quite close. Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Black necked Grebe and a very showy White cheeked Tern made up a memorable morning. The raptors also showed very well and the arrival of the Sandgrouse is really not to be missed! After a late breakfast and a few hours in the sun a   walk onto the Nabq golf course in the evening. Mainly Coot and Spur winged Lapwing were seen. A Desert Fox was a real highlight of the walk, what big ears they have.57 species trip total.

20th November

A trip onto the Nabq Reserve in the morning following the southern perimeter fence which is used by the wheatears as a lookout. It was not long until I had seen both Desert & Mourning Wheatears. A mosque has a few trees around it and Brown necked Raven and Hooded Crows must roost there as they can be seen leaving most mornings. A few Desert Larks were seen, always found in the morning, but never located afternoon / evening. The star of the show was a Persian or Red Tailed Wheatear that chased insects around and was seen for around 5 minutes. An Osprey was seen fishing on the sea on the walk back to the hotel. A trip to Naama Bay was planned in the late afternoon for site seeing. In the bay a dark phase Reef Egret was chasing a Sooty Gull around and a White cheeked tern was seen close inshore. A large gathering of corvids were seen going to roost. 62 species trip total.

21st November

A morning trip to the Nabq Mangroves, being there by 7-15a.m and with only a few of the local bedhouin people out of bed, a good bird watch was had. At least 2 Mangrove Heron were seen with one obliging individual landing on the beach about 5 yards from us. A pair of Osprey sat together whilst one of them ate a fish. A Marsh Harrier flew past us leaving its perch in the mangroves and a dark phase and a light phase Reef Egret were seen sat close together. A single Kingfisher and a Spoonbill were later seen. A small selection of waders were seen including a flock of 22 Curlew Sandpipers, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Turnstone. 3 Sooty Gulls were present on the beach looking for a meal. It is a nice place to visit but with the increasing bedhouin population looking to sell you something it is advisable to go early. My afternoon walk onto the Nabq Reserve revealed a few wheatears and Sooty Gulls on the beach. The pair of Sooty Falcons perched and flying around the large telephone mast where the real stars of the walk. It would appear to be quite late in the year for this species, although they were not seen again despite searching for them. I watched them as the sun went down and they were beginning to hunt, what birds!  75 species trip total.

22nd November

The hotels around Albatros are from the north: Tiran Sharm, Royal Albatros Modena, Jaz Mirabel, Tropicana Sea Beach, Regency Plaza, Raouf International(still closed whilst we were there)Coral Beach and Laguna Vista. I walked south until I reached the Raouf International and watched a pair of Stonechat, this hotel looks abandoned now with all the grass having turned brown. No sign of last year’s Buzzard or Red-Rumped Wheatear though. I carried on south and nearly ran out of hotels. I managed to see a few Bluethroats, Water Pipits (coutelli) Indian Silverbills, Hooded Crows, Kestrels and a Great Cormorant flying out to sea. A couple of Sardinian Warbler were firstly heard and then seen along this road through the hotels. A long but enjoyable walk before breakfast. In the late afternoon a walk along the beach north towards the Tiran Sharm Hotel. As the tide was out more waders seemed to be present. Curlew, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover & Kentish Plover along with Greater Sand Plover made up the wading birds. A couple of Sooty Gulls patrolled the beach area, a nice walk.77 species trip total

23rd November

Another trip to Sharm pools with a 6am start using a taxi from the hotel, these are probably more expensive but are cleaner and more reliable than outside the hotel ones. As we got about 4 miles into the journey a couple of Sand Partridge were seen walking alongside the road and running into the desert as we got alongside them, nice birds. At the pools, Little & Black necked Grebe started the bird watch. Lots of storks were flying in from out of the desert and then a juvenile Flamingo tried to land in amongst the assembled White Storks(about 270 total), who promptly saw it off! A Common Crane was also in with the storks. The bird then landed on a pool and began swimming around with Wigeon, I have never seen Flamingo swimming like ducks before. The raptors included:- Steppe Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Black Kite, a really scruffy Levant Sparrowhawk. As I watched, a group of Spur winged Plover flew in and landed on top of a banking and there, with them was a (Northern) Lapwing. I thought I had found a rare bird in Egypt, but they do occur. Checking further a White Tailed Lapwing was also found in amongst the flock. Three species of Lapwing in one flock, excellent. A flight of Redshank came in and with them was a nice Marsh Sandpiper. There were a lot more hirundines in the area with Common Swift, Swallow, Sand & Rock Martin and a couple of winter plumaged Red Rumped Swallows. Water Pipit & Bluethroat show really well here but a Squacco Heron nearly walked over me. The White Cheeked Tern was flying around showing its ID features as it splashed the water surface unlike marsh terns catching prey items. A Yellow Wagtail was also seen at the pools. Two Slender Billed Gulls came in to preen and gave good views. Again an excellent mornings birding and the Sandgrouse coming into drink is always worth watching. A walk along the beach in the afternoon added Grey Heron, Sanderling, Little Ringed Plover to the total. 87 species trip total

24th November

Back onto the Nabq Reserve in the early morning and venturing a little deeper towards the sandstone mountains I saw:-Desert, Mourning & Hooded Wheatears in better numbers and a single Blackstart, did not expect to find this species but it showed quite well low down near a small bush. A few Desert Larks seen on the way back. Still a few Rock Martins flying around our hotel complex. My walk along the beach in the afternoon was notable for 2 White Eyed Gulls showing down to 10 feet, one of them an adult, what stunning birds they must be in breeding plumage. A good selection of waders with 28 Greater Sand Plovers counted. The regular Sooty Gulls on the beach.    

25th November

Last day, so a trip onto the Nabq Reserve. A small flock of Desert Larks had an addition, a Bar Tailed Lark my only sighting of this species this year. A visit deep into the back part of the southern section again showed an increase in Wheatears with Desert, Mourning & Hooded present. Then a familiar sound, Crowned Sandgrouse nearby, after a good search around nothing but calls for my trouble, maybe just a few birds present? A few Desert Warblers were again seen of the race Sylvia nana, they allowed quite close observation and were a joy to watch. A couple of Sardinian Warblers chased around, whilst a Sooty Gull was seen back on the beach. With an afternoon departure only a short walk on the beach was possible. The juvenile Flamingo was still stood in the sea and a few waders. The two House Crows on the bedhouin settlement were really close and having packed my camera, you know the story. 91 species total.

Conclusion

Excellent place to visit not just for bird watching! The people are friendly and   polite, our hotel was excellent apart from not much entertainment in the evenings. The sun bathing is in dry heat so you are not sweating all the time. The sun was up at 6-30am but it is dark by 5-15pm.

 
Species Lists
Little Grebe. 1 Sharm Pools 23/11.
Black Necked Grebe. 1 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 23/11.
Great White Pelican. 1 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 23/11.
Great Cormorant.1 Nabq Reserve 22/11.
Mangrove Heron.2 Nabq Mangroves 21/11.
Cattle Egret. At least 10 seen on grass at Albatros hotel.
Squacco Heron. 2 Sharm Pools 19/11, 6 – 23/11.
Little Egret.1 Sharm Pools 19/11, 2 -23/11.
Reef Egret. Seen daily on coast in small numbers.
Grey Heron.1 Nabq Beach 23/11.
White Stork.190 Sharm Pools 19/11, 270 – 23/11.
Black Stork. 1 Sharm Pools 19/11.
Spoonbill.1 Nabq Mangroves 21/11.
Greater Flamingo. Sharm Pools 23/11, Nabq beach 24 & 25/11.
Mallard. Sharm Pools 1 19/11.
Pintail. 1 Sharm Pools 20/11, 2 Nabq Golf Course pool 19/11.
Wigeon. 2 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 3 – 23/11.
Teal. 6 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 12 -23/11.
Osprey. Up to 3 birds seen daily on the coast.
Eastern Imperial Eagle.2 Sharm Pools 19/11, 1 – 23/11.
Steppe Eagle. 1 Sharm Pools 19/11, 2 – 23/11.
Black Kite. 30 Sharm Pools 19/11, 6 – 23/11.
Marsh Harrier.1 Nabq Mangroves 21/11.
Honey Buzzard. 1 Sharm Pools 19/11.
Levant Sparrowhawk. 1 Sharm Pools 19/11
Kestrel. Common in Sharm area.
Sooty Falcon. 2 on tower, Nabq Reserve 21/11.
Sand Partridge. 2 beside road near Sharm Pools 23/11
Moorhen. 1 Sharm Pools 23/11.
Coot. 25 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 42 23/11. 5 Nabq Golf course 19/11.
Common Crane. 1 Sharm Pools 23/11.
Oystercatcher. 2 Nabq Mangroves 21/11, 2 Nabq Beach 23/11 & 24/11.
Little Ringed Plover. 3 Nabq Beach 18/11 & 1 23/11.
Ringed Plover. Common in coastal areas.
Kentish Plover. Common in coastal areas.
Greater Sand Plover. Seen on hotel beaches daily, best count 28 24/11.
Grey Plover. Common in coastal areas.
Lapwing. 1 Sharm Pools 23/11.
Spur Winged Plover. Seen daily in various habitats.
White Tailed Lapwing. 1 Sharm Pools 23/11.
Turnstone. 2 Nabq Mangroves 21/11. 2 Nabq Beach 23 & 24/11, 6 25/11.
Sanderling. 1 Nabq Beach 23/11.
Dunlin. 3 Nabq Mangroves 21/11.
Curlew Sandpiper. 22 Nabq Mangroves 21/11.
Temminck`s Stint. 4 Sharm Pools 19/11, 2 23/11.
Green Sandpiper. 20 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 23 23/11.
Common Sandpiper. 6 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 4 23/11.
Redshank. Common in coastal areas, pools.
Greenshank. Common in coastal areas, pools.
Marsh Sandpiper. 1 Sharm Pools 23/11.
Curlew. 4 Nabq Mangroves 21/11. 1 Nabq Beach 22 & 23/11.
Snipe. 1 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 2 23/11.
Slender Billed Gull. 1 Nabq Mangroves 21/11, 2 Sharm Pools 23/11.
Sooty Gull. Up to 6 birds seen daily on the Nabq Beach.
White Eyed Gull. 2 Nabq Beach 23/11 & 24/11.
Caspian Tern. 2 Nabq Beach 18/11 & 23/11. 1 Nabq Reserve 26/11.
White Cheeked Tern. 1 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 23/11. 1 Naama Bay 20/11.
Spotted Sandgrouse.140 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 85 23/11.
Crowned Sandgrouse.19 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 3 23/11.
Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon. Abundant.
African Collared Dove. 8 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 6 23/11, 12 Nabq Golf Course and 22 Nabq Mangroves 21/11.
Laughing Dove. Abundant.
Swift. 10 Sharm Pools 23/11.
Pallid Swift. 4 Sharm Pools 19/11.
Common Kingfisher. 1 Nabq Mangroves 21/11, 1 Nabq Beach 24/11.
Desert Lark. Up to 10 birds seen most days on Nabq Reserve.
Bar Tailed Lark. 1 Nabq Reserve 25/11.
Sand Martin. 16 Sharm Pools 23/11.
Rock Martin. Seen daily in small numbers around Sharm area.
Swallow. 2 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 7 23/11.
Red Rumped Swallow. 3 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 2 23/11.
Water Pipit.16 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 18 23/11. 2 Hotel Garden 22/11.
Red Throated Pipit. 2 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 2 23/11.
White Wagtail. Abundant near any water source.
Yellow Wagtail (feldegg). 1 Sharm Pools 23/11.
Bluethroat. 6 Sharm Pools 19/11 & 8 23/11, 4 Hotel Gardens walk 22/11.
Desert Wheatear. Up to 6 birds seen daily on Nabq Reserve.
Blackstart. 1 Nabq Reserve 24/11.
Mourning Wheatear. Between 3 & 5 birds seen most days on Nabq Reserve.
Hooded Wheatear.1 Nabq Reserve 21/11, 24/11 & 2 25/11.(No Males)
Persian Wheatear (ex Red Tailed) 1 Nabq Reserve 20/11.
Stonechat. 2 Raouf International Hotel gardens 18/11 & 22/11.
Sardinian Warbler. 4 seen on hotels walk 22/1, 2 Nabq Reserve 25/11.
Desert Warbler. 3 Nabq Reserve  25/11.
Scrub Warbler. 1 Nabq Reserve 18/11.
Great Grey Shrike (elegans). 1 Nabq Reserve 18/11.
Hooded Crow. Up to 5 seen daily around hotels, 3 Sharm Pools 19/11.
Brown Necked Raven. 4 seen most days Nabq Reserve, 12 Naama Bay 20/11.
House Crow. 2 Nabq Beach   25/11.
House Sparrow. Abundant.
Indian Silverbill. Up to 20 birds seen on hotels walk 22/11.
Others.
Cockatiel flying around hotel walk area 22/11.
Desert Fox. Seen near Golf course 19/11.
91 species seen in total.

 

 

  

 
 
 
 
 
 
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