Egypt 27 April – 10 May 2013
Olof Jönsson, Sweden firstname.lastname@example.org
Other participants: Jesper Segergren, Richard Ek and Bo Carlsson.
Fuel shortage is still a very big problem in the country. Make sure you get a car that runs on gasoline and make sure you fill up the tank also when you're down on half tank only. Driving was in general easy, for example we drove from Minya on the desert highway east of The Nile via Asyout and Sohag to Safaga without problem. The only place we were denied access was to the Western Desert Highway between Edfu and Aswan. The policeman at the checkpoint told us that there are armed civilians along this road (but I know other birders have driven this road recently without any problems).
NOTES ON A FEW SELECTED SPECIES:
In Abassa three females at 30.538861°, 31.734778° and at least one singing male at 30.544348°, 31.733015° on 28th April.
Two near Abassa in a wet field at 30.486708°, 31.684583° on 28th April. You need to get wet on your feet to see the birds at this site.
One near Abassa at 30.486085°, 31.684143° on 28th April.
Egyptian Yellow Wagtai:
A few near Abassa at 30.487487°, 31.683107° and in Wadi Natrun at 30.330339°, 30.405714° on 28th April.
About 40 in Wadi Natrun at 30.330339°, 30.405714° on 28th April and three in Abu Simbel on an island at 22.378741°, 31.663007° on 6th May.
Two near Sandafa at 28.502229°, 30.610262° on 29th April. We left Cairo after 7AM together with Daniel Mauras, Mary Megalli and our guides Abdulla Ali and Mohammed from Thebes Tours (email@example.com). We had no problems driving down to Sandafa, the road is good. At the site we met some farmers and our guides spoke to them before we entered the fields to look for the birds. It didn't take us long before we found two birds in a dry field with remains of crops from last year. This was at about 10:30 AM and we walked around for another one or two hours in the area but didn't find any more birds. Due to our tight schedule and the petrol situation we were satisfied and continued down to Minya where we stayed at the Cleopatra Hotel.
Green-backed Purple Swamphen:
One in Minya at 28.083678°, 30.769705° on 29th April.
Nile Valley Sunbird:
One male in Minya at 28.111719°, 30.751750° on 29th April and a pair just South of Kalabash on the Aswan-Edfu Agricultural road on 7th May.
Pharaoh Eagle Owl:
A pair with three chicks were seen at a breeding site north of Marsa Alam on 30th April.
Just next to the road south of Marsa Alam at 24.824722°, 34.996613° we saw about 1000 White-eyed and Sooty gulls on several occasions (maybe 90 % White-eyed and 10 % Sooty). There appeared to be a rubbish dump just inland from the shore and this site is definately worth checking if you're in the area. Maybe it is a good place for large gulls in winter?
Three at Shams Alam Resort ( 24.691149°, 35.083626°) on several occasions and two at Abu Simbel Fish Ponds at 22.381856°, 31.583008° on 6th May.
About ten birds on several days around Hamata Mangroves, most of them over the sea and the offshore islands. Also about ten birds hunting over southern Hurghada at dusk on 8th May.
About 10-15 birds in Bir Shalatein on 1st May, most of them on carcasses around the camel market. We were denied access to the road from the checkpoint just South of Wadi Lahami but it was easy for us to get a guide at short notice with the help of the staff at Wadi Lahami.
African Collared Dove:
One singing bird in Wadi Lahami Mangrove at 24.220059°, 35.424420° on both 1st May and 4th May. Many of the European Collared Doves in the same mangrove had a bit strange voices... A pair with a juvenile were seen near a well in the Wadi El Gimal NP at 24.373439°, 34.998537° on the 3rd May.
Last year a pair was filmed in a photo trap as they came to drink at a spring in Wadi Shartut in the Wadi El Gimal NP (24.275247°, 34.996788°). We spent almost two days scanning raptors in the mountains around Wadi Shartut 2nd-3rd May, unfortunately without seeing any Verreaux's Eagles. You need a guide to do this kind of safari and ours was organised through Thebes Tours. Our guides name is Mohammad Gad and he can be contacted on +201064666395, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
An adult bird was seen on several occasions in Wadi Shartut in the Wadi El Gimal NP on 2nd-3rd May. I guess they breed in the area?
A pair plus another male were singing in Wadi Shartut in the Wadi El Gimal NP in the evening on 2nd May. By the look of the area, this species should be numerous in there.
Three birds flew over our camp in Wadi Shartut in the Wadi El Gimal NP at dusk on 2nd May. After dark flying birds were heard several more times so definately more birds than those three in the area.
4 in Hamata Mangroves at about 24.314496°, 35.369547° seen at pretty low tide on 4th May.
We searched for this species in Abu Simbel without finding them, the lake where they have been seen the last years has a lot of water in it so there were no muddy areas for the plovers. Two birds were seen at Tut Amon Fish Ponds on a small island at 23.967003°, 32.855992° on 7th May. Contact Haitham Ibrahim on firstname.lastname@example.org for access to the site, we were accompanied by his collegue Hosni who knew where to find the birds.
1 in Hamata mangrove sitting in a tree top at 24.326512°, 35.343657° on 8th May. I get the feeling that most people have seen it in Hamata and not Wadi Lahami lately.
Two flew north past El Gouna on 9th May.
African Mourning Dove:
1 male still in Abu Simbel at 22.339320°, 31.618608° on 5th May.
European Collared Dove:
1 in tamarisks North of Abu Simbel at about 22.558376°, 31.694827° on 6th May. I didn't know that this species occured around Abu Simbel. We didn't see any African Collared doves in Abu Simbel.
About 40 birds around Abu Simbel on 5th-7th May. Only singles and small groups were seen, best site was at 22.493979°, 31.672613° which is the third bay north of Airport Bay. On 7th May we had 5 birds soaring over Tut Amon Fish Ponds near Aswan.
About 25 birds around Abu Simbel on 5th-7th May, best site with 19 birds on 6th May was at 22.493979°, 31.672613° which is the third bay north of Airport Bay.
Not seen in Abu Simbel despite half a day boat trip on Lake Nasser and hours and hours of scanning from Airport Bay. Our skipper told us that the small island at 22.417450°, 31.669814° is a place where he has seen them several times. This Island should be easy to see from land.
LAKE NASSER BAYS NORTH OF ABU SIMBEL:
Inspired by Pierre and Eric we explored some of the bays north of Abu Simbel. To go to the best bays , leave the main road at 22.403280°, 31.583927°. We didn't check the first ( 22.407569°, 31.638655°) and second ( 22.419651°, 31.665730°) bays north of Airport Bay since we had been there by boat. At 22.447669°, 31.667183°, turn left and continue along the road until you reach a tarmac road at 22.502024°, 31.653717°. (Beware that this track is somewhat tricky with a conventional car, we didn't hade any bigger problems to drive there though). Turn right onto the tarmac road and to reach the third bay north of Airport Bay ( 22.493654°, 31.671729°), leave the tarmac road onto the track at 22.505687°, 31.664226°. To reach the fourth bay, leave the tarmac road onto the track at 22.512788°, 31.679705°. We explored as far as 22.557481°, 31.690498° but could very well have gone further.
The best bays were bay 3 and 4 north of Airport Bay, bay 3 holding the best numbers of Yellow-billed Stork and Pink-backed Pelican, while bay 4 held a large flock of Flamingos. Exploring these bays is definately worth a full day if you visit the area.
All in all a successful trip!
Best regards, Olof Jönsson, Sweden