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A Report from

Hurghada, Egypt Nov.  2001,

Jan Landsverk

My wife and 3 of our sons jumped on a late charter trip to Hurghada, Egypt Nov. 6  2001.  Because of peoples fear of going to the Middle East and islamic countries in general after Sept. 11, the prices to Egypt have fallen dramatically.  We paid only US dollars 175 each - everything included. 

Hurghada has a perfect climate at this time of the year - 27 degrees in the air and about the same in the sea.  We didnt see any clouds the week we were there.  Most days we were snorkelling - from the beaches.  One day we went by boat to Giftun (Paradise) Island to snorkel.  But we didnt see any birds on this island and only one species on the boat trip.  Hurghada isnt famous for its birdlife, but if you take a closer look in the hotel gardens, there are always some birds to see.  Unfortunately we didnt take time to look around for birds in the Hurghada and Gouna area, else the species list would have become more interesting.  But you cant get everything in one week together with the family.  We had two priorities:  Luxor and Cairo (the pyramids).  After having been to Egypt 3 times before, it was now about time to see these famous and highly interesting places. 

If we hadnt gone to Luxor for one day, this report wouldnt have been written .  That means we saw a lot of birds there and especially along the Nile on our way to this fascinating town of 356000 people, where about 70% of the population live by the tourists.  Nowadays it is a kind of cathastrophe for them as the visitors have gone down with 75%.  The most striking is that along the Nile the big boats occupy the riverbank for about 4 kilometers, as they have nothing to do because of the absence of tourists here now.  The same problem you have in Hurghada - too many hotels, so some of them have to close down and many of the new hotels they now build are not finished.  It is really a dramatic situation for many Egyptians.  Because of this situation it is the buyers market, and the prices are very low.  It costs only about 35 US dollars for one day to Luxor (280km) and the same for one day to Cairo (560km) - everything included. 

I was impressed by the lush vegetation along the river Nile, and the rich bird life.  We didnt stop, but still we were able to see a lot of different species from the bus window along the road.  But of course we missed many of the smaller birds.  If we had had two days in Luxor, we could have done some birdwatching one of the days, even visited Crocodile Island (30km) south of Luxor.  There were several birds on and by the Nile which we were not able to decide from the bus window. 

In the species list I will only put an H for Hurghada and an L for Luxor and the area along the Nile for at least 50 km.  B means the birds we observed between those two towns - in the semidesert.  The date one of my sons and I went to Luxor was Nov. 11. Nothing is mentioned in the list about the Cairo trip on Nov. 12, as we didnt see anything interesting, except for the Hoopoe Lark we observed very close to the road about 50 - 100 km before reaching Cairo at a bus stop (police check point).  Keep in mind that all the buses and other vehichles drive in a convoy  with police escort - both to Luxor and Cairo.

1.  Great Cormorant     2 H.
2.   Cattle Egret     Common L
3.   Squacco Heron     3 L
4.   Little Egret     Common L, a few H
5.   Western Reef Heron     One H
6.   Grey Heron     One L
7.   Glossy Ibis     2 crossing the river Nile L
8.   Ducks sp.     Several of different species observed on the Nile L
9.   Osprey     7 H
10.  Black Kite     3 L
11.  Black-shouldered Kite     5 L
12.  Marsh Harrier     1 L
13.  Kestrel     1 H and 4 L
14.  Moorhen     8 L
15.  Plover sp.     A few L
16.  Grey Plover     One H
17.  Spur-winged Plover     10 - 20 L
18.  Common Sandpiper     2 H
19.  Greenshank     1 L
20.  Black-tailed Godwit     One at River Nile  L
21.  Eurasian Curlew     1 L
22.  Waders sp.      Different waders were seen from the bus at long distance
23.  Black-headed Gull     A few on the Nile L
24.  Yellow-legged Gull     One H ?
25.  Sooty Gull     A few H ?
26.  White-eyed Gull     About 500 H
27.  Tern sp.     1 - 2 H
28.  Rock Pigeon     2 B
29.  Feral Pigeon     Common H
30.  Laughing Dove     Common H and L
31.  Pallid Swift     50 - 100 L
32.  Common Swift      A few L ?
33.  Hoopoe     6 L
34.  Common Kingfisher     2 H
35.  Pied Kingfisher     More than 10 L
36.  Bee-eater sp.     A few L
37.  Little Green Bee-eater     About 10 L and one B
38.  Lark sp.     One B  observed flying
39.  Lesser Short-toed Lark     About 50 in three flocks B?
40.  Hoopoe Lark     One by the road on the way to Cairo
41.  Rock Martin     4 L  (Karnak Temple)
42.  Barn Swallow     2 B (European rustica) and about 100(Egyptian savignii) L 
43.  Meadow Pipit     2 B
44.  White Wagtail     Rather common both H and L
45.  Common Bulbul     More than 5 L
46.  Bluethroat     2 observed in gardens in H
47.  Common Redstart     2  H
48.  Mourning Wheatear     1 - 2 B
49.  Hooded Wheatear     2 B
50.  White-tailed Wheatear     2 - 3 B
51.  Stonechat     1 - 2 B
52.  Blackcap     One H
53.  Sardinian Warbler     5 H and 1 B
54.  Graceful Warbler     1 - 2 L
55.  Olivaceous Warbler     One H ?
56.  Chiffchaff     Common H, a few B and a few L
57.  Siberian Chiffchaff     One H ?
58.  Nile Valley Sunbird     2 - 3 by the river Nile L
59.  Hooded Crow     A few H and B.  More than 100 L
60.  Brown-necked Raven     About 50 mostly B
61.  House Crow     At least 2 in H
62.  House Sparrow     Common H and L.  Also seen bus stop B.

It is very frustrating not to find out which bird you have observed because of lack of time or because the bus passed it in 80 km an hour. 

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