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A Report from

Short Notes on birding Sharm el Sheikh Egypt, 10-17 September 2002,


Moira and Graeme Wallace, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Summary of the trip


The purpose of the short trip to Sharm El Sheikh on the tip of the Sinai peninsula was to  scuba dive in the Red Sea, together with a brief stopover in Cairo to take in the Pyramids.

However we had read with interest a trip report by Bruce Hansen and Tommy Pedersen on the Ornithological Society of the Middle East (OSME) Website (see below) which indicated that some interesting species including Lichtenstein's and Spotted Sandgrouse could be found not far from Na'ama Bay - the base for our diving holiday.( Crowned Sandgrouse may also be found there) In the event their report and its outline map proved very useful and we found several good species in two late evening and one early morning sessions.

The Sites

There are a number of birding sites around Na'ama Bay/Sharm El Sheikh including Ras Mohammed, St Katherine's Monastery, Nabq Protected Area, Movenpick Hotel and Golf Course and a series of water treatment/sewage ponds, all of which are well described in other trip reports. We limited ourselves to the ponds north west of town which proved to be good.

To access the ponds driving south from the airport when you enter the town of Na'ama Bay look for a Marriott Hotel on the right. Immediately after this there is a road to the right which leads out to the mountains/desert. Follow this road to the junction with the Sharm El Sheikh to Dahab road,  continue straight on and the ponds are on the right after a kilometer or so.

The only downside of birding the ponds is that many holidaymakers act out their " Mad Max" fantasies by racing round the desert in quad bikes at both dawn and dusk. The  maximum count was 73(!!) bikes in view at any one time.

Trip Reports 

There are a surprising number of trip reports available which will provide all the information you need. The best are as follows;




Annotated Species List

Taxonomy follows the "old-fashioned" sequence  set out in Howard and Moore's " A Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World" Academic Press 1998 ISBN 0-12-356910-9.

All records below relate to sightings at the sewage treatment ponds north west of Na'ama Bay unless stated otherwise.

1. Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Two winter plumaged birds seen on all 3 visits.

2. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Two birds seen on both 12&14/09.

3. Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
A few birds seen on the R.Nile in Cairo.

4. Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis)
A single bird feeding among the holidaymakers at Na'ama Bay on 16/09.

5. Striated Heron (Butorides striatus)
Single on the first visit to the ponds.    

6. Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)
A single bird with the White Storks on 12/09.

7. White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
Some 300 birds coming in from the desert late afternoon and flying back to roost at dusk.

8.Common Teal (Anas crecca)
Up to 10 birds present on each visit.    

7. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Up to 15 birds on each visit.

8.Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Just one bird seen in flight as the skittish duck flock flew around the ponds.       

 9.Black Kite (Milvus migrans)
A couple of birds on 12/09 and one on 14/09.

10.Montague's Harrier (Circus pygargus)
A single female drifted lazily by on 14/09.

11.Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)
A single bird circling low over the Fayrouz Hilton on 14/09.

12.Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)
A single bird seen hovering over the motorway as we drove to the dive boat on14/09.

13.Sooty Falcon (Falco concolor)
First a single on 12/09 and then a pair on 14/09 giving great views as they hunted over the ponds and finally perched on the desert.

14.Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus)
Prolonged views of a female perched on a building at the entrance to the Fayrouz Hilton.

15.Spur-winged Plover (Vanellus spinosus)
Seen on each visit  with a maximum count of 20 of these cracking plovers on 14/09.

16.Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Only 2 birds on 14/09.

17.Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Also only 2 birds on 12/09.

18.Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
2 birds on 12/09.

19.Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
A single on 14/09.

20.Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
Up to 10 birds present on each visit.

21.Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
 A single bird present on 12/09.

22.Sooty Gull (Larus hemprichii)
Up to 6 birds still in summer plumage seen in the harbour at Sharm El Sheikh on12&14/09.

23.Spotted Sandgrouse (Pterocles senegallus)
 A flock of 40 birds flew in around 07.45 on 14/09. The birds, which were calling audibly, flew   over the ponds and disappeared behind a sand embankment, where presumably there was water, before settling down on the desert below the ponds affording great scope views. They were still there when we left at 08.00.

24.Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse (Pterocles lichtensteinii)
At about 19.20 on 12/09 about 6 birds flew in silently and settled on the embankment at the far end of the ponds. They allowed a close approach but it was too dark to see any features clearly. Fortunately on 14/09 the same 6 or 7 birds flew in a couple of minutes earlier, but luckily settled on the bund near to where we were standing. Again they allowed close approach and we had excellent views of this great species.

25.Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)
Up to 6 birds on each visit.

26.Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis)
Very common in the grounds on the hotel at Sharm.

27.Blue-cheeked Bee-eater  (Merops  superciliosus )
Heard daily over the Fayrouz Hilton and seen once perched in a bush near the entrance. Also heard at the ponds.

28.Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Up to 6 birds on each visit.

29.Pale Crag Martin (Hirundo obsoleta)
Fairly common with about 15-20 birds on each visit.

30.Common House Martin (Delichon urbica)
Two birds on 14/09

31.White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
Common around the hotel.

32.House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Very common in the grounds of the Fayrouz Hilton

33.Brown-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis)
Three birds seen on the desert at the edge of town.


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