15th March 2020
This male Desert Wheatear was briefly at the golf course before moving on
I did the botanical gardens first this morning instead of usually doin the golf course and an later at 08.00. Everything from yesterday had more or less cleared off overnight. There was still tripping over some 100 Lesser Whitethroat and Chiffchaff but otherwise it was quiet and I had covered the area in just over an hour. Of note, The Male Eastern Redstart, only 4 Cretzschnar’s Bunting and 5 Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler and near the north moat, the Easternn male Black-eared Wheatear and only 4 Black-headed Wagtail were still present but no sign of all 4 Ruppell’s Warbler or Masked Shrike. New in included were a single Wryneck at the north moat and a Quail that I booted out of cover on the SW side.
There are both white and red spotted Bluethroat in the garden and today I had up to 6 birds
Only 5 Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler compared to 10 yesterday
I could only find this Siberian Stonechat at the north moat
Only a handful of Reed and Sedge Warbler and a this male Blackcap was the only sighting
At 09.30, goin by the lack of birds at the garden, I was not expected much on the golf course and sure enough that was the case. Yesterdays birds had moved on their journey north. Just a single Reed Warbler and 3 Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler but still good numbers of Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and hirundines including the Asian Red-rumped Swallow. There was only a single Richard’s Pipit in the SW corner and Citrine Wagtailthat was feeding with some 50 Black-headed Wagtail. 3 Palled Swift and 2 White Stork flew through and a large flock of vocal Blue-cheeked Bee-eater were much to high to pick out. The Short-toed Lark had dropped from 40 to 30 and still I couldn’t find anything in with them.
Only the one Richard’s Pipit and there are only 8 Tawny Pipit altogether
The Asian Red-rumped Swallow looking like an Asian Red-rumped Swallow. Why were both the tail streamers bloody broken and not just one? Just look at that tail from below
I spent some time with the Black-headed Wagtail trying to catch them as they were dancing on the water catching flies
There was only the one Citrine Wagtail in with the other wagtails.
Male blue-headed Wagtail hybrid?
3 Palled Swift moved straight through south
Only 30+short-toad lark from 40 yesterday
The highlight was a male Desert Wheatear in NE corner but returning the car, I flushed a Phyllosc out of some Marigolds next to the golf house on the SW end. As it flew up into a hedge it gave a single note ‘Siberian Chiffchaff!’ It was that distinctive short pipe Dunnock ‘type’ call and when I got on to it, it was a greyish on the upperparts but not so white on the underparts due to moult. And that’s what hit me first is how a scruffy individual it looked with blotchy dark patches on the underparts. Not like all the other Chiffchaff that I have seen while in Sharm that are all in clean pristine condition. As it’s moulting this should help to identify it as a Siberian Chiffchaff ruling out Chiffchaff. I’ve seen a few scruffy Siberin Chiffchaff in March on Scilly. It was deep in cover, calling. I got my mobile out and pressed record but it had shut up as I reached into my pocket. I could see it moving actively at the back and when I could, I tried to get a record shot in the small gaps that it very briefly showed in. I thought that it would join up with the Chiffchaffs and Bonelli’s Warblers that were just around the corner. But no, it decided to fly low past the golf club and a long ways out of sight. Why? For the next hour, I spent around the hedge on the SE side to where it appeared to fly to but nothing. I have no idea what the status of siberian Chiffchaff are in Sharm or even Egypt. I returned to the original area where I first spotted it and for my effort all I got what I thought was an a smart male Eeastern Redstart or is it a male Eastern Black Redstart. The black continued two thirds down the breast but it had a white line across it’s forehead. I couldn’t make out which species it was as it looked like a RedstartxBlack Redstart hybrid? Do they cross breed with each other? It was now 12.00 and I thought I would return to search for the Chiffchaff later after I had made a visit to Sharm Sewage pools.
This male Desert Wheatear didn’t hang around
Note the contrast with the primaries and the rest of the greyish wing and upperparts
On this side of the bird in this record shot you can clearly still see the moult
And again on the otherside you can see the patches of blotching of moult on the side and breast and again the contrast in the primaries from the tertials. The outer tail feathers have also got greenish on the edges This is all I could get on it before it moved on. I have no idea what the status of Siberian Chiffchaff in this area or even Egypt.
It turns out that Black Redstart do interbreed with Redstart. So that’s why I was like, which one is t?. A male CommonxBlack Redstart. I was thinking maybe Eastern Black Redstart hybred maybe? I hope that still around tomorrow.
This Hoopoe was having a good ole preen in the shade
The two times that I’ve driven through at the checkpoint, as you turn off from the main highway to go to the pools, I’ve gone straight through without being stopped. I did find this unusal as normanally they stop me at every checkpoint asking to see my passspoint. However, this time they did stop me and asked where I was from? ‘UK’ I told them and this is the reply I get from most of the police at the checkpoints ‘Ukraine?’ As always I repeat myself and again they repeat it again ‘Ukraine?’ So I try England, Britain and they still don;t understand. So it’s me that says to them, why don’t you just look at my passport? I pass it over to them ‘UK!’ Wow! How did you get that? This is always followed by ‘Sallah!, Liverpool!’ If not it’s ‘Where are you goin?’ I told them that I was goin to the bird hides at the reserve. Well the one hide as the others you can see flattened to the ground. Anyways, non of them understood me and they waved over another policeman who did understand what I was saying. Which is odd because no one can understand me. His response was clear when I repeated to where I was goin to ‘No! You can’t go there as you need a guide. I do?
That was it. As I drove away I thought that I will never visit this area of Egypt again as you really cannot go anywhere in Sharm El sheikh if your a birder staying here. If your not a birder your still a bit stuck unless you like sun, sand and sea. But your kinda of imprisoned with a high fence surrounding the city and you can’t escape unless you go through a checkpoint! Since the bombing of the plane five years ago ,that went off twenty minutes after leaving Sharm, it’s still tense in the city and you can feel it and security is always on high alert. Putting a perimeter fence up to stop you from goin out into the desert or mountains, if the terrorist aim was to blow up a passenger plain while on the tarmac at Sharm el Shiekh Airport, as that is what is believed, then the terrorist have won. Also, I believe that you can’t stop on the road and walk out into the desert or mountains without a guide in the Sinai region. So the only areas that I can visit as a birder in the Sharm area are the golf course and the botanical gardens. There is also the reserve to the north but you have to pay $10 a time to visit.
I thought that I would go and look for White-eyed Gull. And this is another problem. The only area where you can get to the beach in the whole coastline of the city, as far as I know, is the south end of Sharm where there is a small gap for the public. Every inch of the cities beaches are taken up by hotels. Unless your staying at any of the many hotels, then you can’t go on the sand as it’s private. A scan across the bay and there on one of the buoys there were 17 White-eyed Gull. Ideal! However, they were to far out and I had to wait until one flew closer to the shore where I was standing. An individual did fly low over my head but the light was not good for photography with others further out. Nearby, next to the road, I had a male White-tailed Wheatear and a single Isabeline Wheatear. I returned to the golf course to try and relocate the Siberian CHiffchaff but after an hour there was no sign or the Redstart or is it a Black Redstart and I gave up and left to get somethin to eat.
At last I’ve seen White-eyed Gull but I will have to make other visit with bread next time. I might get arrested for throwing food at birds
This male White-tailed Wheatear was very confiding
When I returned to my digs, the Wifi had gone off all over Sharm and the ATM were not working! Very strange and that’s what the owner of where I was staying thought. Apparently there has been a case of coronavirus in sharm and they don’t what to get the news out because they fear that it will stop tourist visiting here. Myself, I don’t believe that is why it went off and the Wifi came back on later that evening.