12th March 2020
I managed to get a record shot of this rather elusive male Cypress Wheatear that could prove to be a prety rare species for Egypt? Other rarefies observed in an amazing day included Caspian Stonechat, Short-eared Owl and Bittern as well as other goodies.
Overnight rain and a SE blow got up early and I arrived at the golf course just before 07.00. I was told yesterday that from 08.00 there will be 35 golfers playing. I only had an hour and in the light rain and blustery conditions, I made my ways towards the NE corner. From 60 yesterday evening to over 200 Black-headed Wagtail!! Amazing sight and despite searching through them for the next twenty minutes, I couldn’t find yesterday Citrine wagtail. There were the usual hybrid things and the odd Grey-headed Wagtail feeding with them. I had not seen any Bluethroat on all my visits to the golf course but on one of the small pools were three birds. 2 little-ringed Plover dropped in and it was while trying to get a pic of a Water Pipit that I spotted a a Bittern in the gloom distantly flying south. It slowly descended and seemed to come down on the pools on the south side but when I got there, there was no sign of it but did flush a single Snipe and 7 Green sandpiper and a flock of 4 Short-toed Lark and 16 Red-throated and 34 Tawny Pipit. By now it ha gone 08.00 and the golfers were already playing. By now the rain was getting heavy and as I returned to the golf house on the SW side, I was watching a Siberian Stonechat when a Short-eared Owl flew over SW. I got my camera out of my bag and got some record shots as it flew away from me over the buildings.
An idea of the extent of the 200+Black-headed Wagtail feeding in the SE corner of the golf course.
.This Bittern flying in the overcast skies was a bit of a surprise
This is all I get on this Short-eared Owl as my camera was safe in my bag from the rain. Surely this must be pretty rare in Egypt or the Sinai Peninsular
With so much goin on due to the weather, it was too good to leave and I decided to continue birding on the WNW perimeter fence. Both Isabeline and Northern Wheatear and in the hedge that follows the fence all the way round were good number of Lesser Whitethroat and Chiffchaff. Out of the blue this stoking male Stonechat flew up in front of me and perched back on a long ways off. It was flicking it’s tail and I was sure that I could see white bleeding in to on occasions. I had to get closer and after a few attempts with the camera, I got the image that I wanted showing clearly the ideal tail pattern for a Caspian Stonechat. The skies were dark and I was sheltering under a palm from the heavy rainfall. At the same time I wanted to get cracking but 4 night Heron in from the south stopped in my tracks, circled and flew out north. I made my way back to the club house following the perimeter fence when I could hear what I thought was a Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler. I needed this species and in the end I had 3 in the same hedge as single Reed, Sedge Warbler and Bluethroat and 4 Siskin and 2 Tree Pipit flew out SE. At the same time, 8 Tawny Pipit flew in from the south followed by 5 Little-ringed Plover. Black-headed Wagtail were arriving in ones and twos throughout the time I was on the golf course.
Cracking male Caspian Stonechat showing off the tail pattern and black arm pits Is this another rarity for Egypt or this area?
The 4 adult Night Heron didn’t hang around and continued there journey
A new species were 3 Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler
In the end I spent three hours and on the golf course and it was getting too dangerous to stay on there. I was looking forward to getting to the botanical gardens and arrived as the rain started to ease off. Imediatly on the short grass were over 4o Black-headed Wagtail with 8 Red-throated Pipit. as usual I started kicking Bluethroats from out of cover and I could hear Lesser Whitethroat all over the shop including 10 in a single tree. From the center I made my way to the south side where there were lots of Chiffchaff, more Lesser Whitethroat and a 2 Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler. I heard a Grey Wagtail and it dropped in and landed on the roof of a building just above me. I crossed the center of the garden, where I had a pair of Siberian Stonechat, and headed towards the NE side.
A male Siberian Stonechat showing the lack of white bleeding into the tail not like the Caspian Stonechat I had earlier on the golf course.
While the female Siberian Stonechat showed a lot better than the male
All though I had some 15 Lesser Whitethroat already in being in the garden, non of them showed well and this was the best I could do.
Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler
As approached the small patch of small Acacia Trees, Broom and scrub, I could hear Bonelli’s Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat when I flushed 6 bunting out of a field and land up in some trees. Another new species in the form of 6 Crretzschmar’s Bunting. They settled back down into the field and I got onto a male Pied Wheatear! Wow! This weather is dropping in the migrants including rarities like this wheatear. Wheatears being my favorite birds, before I left home for Egypt, I looked up the rare wheatears that might turn up while I was here and one of them was the very similar to Pied Wheatear, Cypress Wheatear. Which ever species it is, I’m guessing it’s rare in Egypt. The wheatear sp flew off strongly into the desert and I could hear a Redstart nearby and found a stonking male Eastern Redstart. It was getting hard to pick out a Chiffchaff from the number of Bonelli’s Warbler. I spent the rest of the day in the NW corner as it was so productive with birds appearing to arrive throughout. I basically did a continues circuit slowly around the Acacias Trees and scrub and flushed a Quail. This was followed by 32 Blue-cheeked Bee-eater moving north.
6 Crretzschmar’s Bunting were a new species for myself
When I returned home I looked up the separation between Pied and Cypress Wheatear. The tail pattern, darker upperparts and the pattern of head suggest a male Cypress Wheatear Is that a rarer record than Pied Wheatar for Egypt?
This stoking male Eastern Redstart was the first time that I ha seen this race, if is still a race?
Part of the flock of 32 Blue-cheeked Bee-eater on their flight north
So far I would of been pretty pleased in what I had seen but things kept on improving as birds just kept on dropping in. I got a flash of a male Black-eared Wheatear fly low through the Broom but lost it. I spent a good hour searching for it without any success. I did get a pair of Eastern Redstart including a better looking male then the other individual. Two hours after seeing it last, I relocated the male Cypress Wheatear on the perimeter fence before flying low back in the garden where I lost it. I went searching for another wheatear as the Black-eared Wheatear I was beginning to think that I was seeing things. However, that all changed when I picked up on the path quite some way from me. After this I kept on seeing it on and off but always near the path where it favored. I could hear more Blue-cheeked Bee-eater I counted 83 high north. Some 30 minutes later I could hear more Bee-eater in the dark skies but just couldn’t locate them.
It was some two hours after seeing this male Eastern Black-eared Wheatear that I finally got a record shot f it.
And the male Cypress Wheatear keep it’s distance after goin missin for also two hours after first seeing it
Another stonking male Eastern Redstart but always kept it’s distant
For the tenth time, I arrived at Acacia Trees and there was a male Ruppell’s Warbler! Yet another new species and it didn’t fly off like the Sardinian Warblers always do. I stuck with it for a good thirty minutes and observed 47 Bee-eater heading north. While hanging out with the Ruppell’s Warbler Bonelli’s Warbler seemed to be all over the shop in the Acacia Trees. Flying from in the south 2 lesser Kestrel flew straight through south with a trickle of Swallow and Sand Martin throughout all the time I was there. A flock of 10 Red-rumped Swallow, 8 Red-throated, 2 Tree and a single Meadow Pipit all flew through south. i did venture once to the east end and flushed another Quail out of a bare soiled field. No idea it was there until it flew out to the far side like the other individual did. Everytime I passed the Acacias while on of my many circuits, I saw the Ruppell’s warbler and I heard flocks of Bee-eaters but just couldn’t see them.
There was species that I was wanting to see while I was here and that was a male Ruppell’s Warbler and one to show so well as this individual did.
2 male Lesser Kestrel distantly flew through south.
As there were some 20 Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler feeding I couldn’t help but spend some time with them
The weather played it’s part today and I only visited two sites. Birds were on the move throughout the day. I’m looking forward to getting out in the field tomorrow.
Here are the totals of the birds I observed both at the golf course and the botanical gardens:
1 male Cypress Wheatear, 1 male Caspian Stonechat, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Bittern, 1 Buff-bellied/Watter Pipit, male ruppell’s Warbler, male Black-eared Wheatear, 6 Cretzschmar’s Bunting, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Sedge warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 100+swallow 10 Sand Martin, 15 Red-rumped Swallow, 2 Lesser Kestrel, 3 Eastern Black Redstart, 4 Night Heron, 4 Siskin, 4 Tree Pipit, 1 Meadow Pipit, 24 red-throated Pipit, 50+Tawny Pipit, 7 Little-ringed Plover, 2 Quail, 3 Siberian Stonechat, 25+Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, 240+Black-headed Wagtail, 70+White-Wagtail, 7 Green sandpiper, 1 Snipe, 10 Bluethroat, 30+Lesser Whitethroat, 40+Chiffchaff, 15 Northern Wheatear, 6 Isabeline Wheatear, 162 Bee-eater and also other flocks that I only heard.