egtrip28

Safaga, Egypt
26th March - 8th April 2004

Bird Observations
Safaga, Holiday Inn, Red Sea coast, Egypt
26/03/2004 - 8/4/2004

Site:
Holiday Inn is one of the many resort-like hotels on the Egyptian Red Sea coast. Situated 6 km north of Port Safaga, it is roughly 60 km by road south of Hurghada. Holiday Inn is a medium sized hotel with 300 rooms and reasonable gardens, the latter surrounding the swimming pool and the buildings. Similar gardens can be found to the north (one hotel) and to the south (more hotels and private lots), meaning that this is not a completely isolated patch of vegetation in the desert.

Unfortunately the desert habitat surrounding the hotel (all the stretch west of the main Hurghada-Safaga-road) is widely out of bounds for visitors (military reasons). Therefore just two small more ore less roadside walks were done: 2 km to the NW (1/4, 5.00-6.30 pm); 2 km to the S and than 1 km into the desert to the W (4/4, 6.45-8.00 am).

Tobia Island is a shallow sandy island at Soma Bay, just 4 km NE of Holiday Inn. It is a very popular tourist boat destination, this strongly reducing the importance for resting shorebirds.

Note: 1.
Bird counts/estimates in the hotel area were carried out almost daily. Because of the small gardens, birds are easily disturbed by passing persons and move to the next area of bushes. Due to the many movements of birds the numbers given are estimates rather than exact counts.

Note: 2.
In some windless evenings there was excessive spraying of pesticides against flies and mosquitoes. As a result of this the absence of larger insects (or other invertebrates) was striking. Whether the birds caught by the Cattle Egrets were affected by that poison or not is not known to me.

Note: 3.
Weather was fine without huge changes. Temperature peaked at between 26 and 33°C daily, while northerly winds were dominant.

Note: 4.
Birds not positively identified at species level are mentioned in a few cases.

Note: 5.
All observations were carried out in the hotel area, unless otherwise stated.

Note: 6.
Abbreviations: N, S, E, W = north, northwards, south and so on; migr. = migrating; ad. = adult; imm. = immatur

1. Green-backed Heron Butorides striatus Mangrovereiher
6/4 1 imm.

2. Black-capped Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax Nachtreiher
1/4 1 ad. arriving 6.30am + 1 departing towards NNW 6.30pm
4/4 2 departing 5.45am + 1 resting

3. Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides Rallenreiher
7/4 1

4. Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis Kuhreiher
About 30 present daily (residents?). They were feeding on invertebrates and birds, for the latter 4 incidents personally observed (more reported by other hotel guests):
27/3 Sparrow (1.5 min used for killing and swallowing), 30/3 Lesser Whitethroat (about 10 sec), 30/3 Sedge Warbler (about 5 sec), 8/4 Tree Pipit (overtaken by Hooded Crow)
Some (unsuccessful) chases of passerines were observed, but presumably most incidents are results of unobservant feeding passerines, just hopping into reach of Cattle Egrets

5. Western Reef Heron / Little Egret Egretta gularis / E. garzetta Küstenreiher / Seidenreiher
6/4 2 white morphs Tobia Island

6. Black Kite Milvus migrans Schwarzmilan
1/4 1 migr. N, following coastline

7. Montagu´s Harrier Circus pygargus Wiesenweihe
4/4 1 male desert

8. Pallid / Montagu´s Harrier C. macrourus / C. pygargus Steppen- / Wiesenweihe
8/4 1 female migr. N, 6.30am

9. Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus Sperber
5/4 1 with prey
7/4 1 hunting
8/4 1

10. Steppe Buzzard Buteo buteo vulpinus Falkenbussard
31/3 1 flying S, 5.00pm
3/4 1 flying S, 1.30pm
4/4 1

11. Long-legged Buzzard B. rufinus Adlerbussard
4/4 1 desert

12. Osprey Pandion haliaetus Fischadler
4/4 1 (far offshore)

13. Kestrel Falco tinnunculus Turmfalke
1 daily (2 times with bird prey)

14. Lesser Kestrel F. naumanni Rötelfalke
28/3 1 male migr. N, 11.00am
3/4 1 male

15. Hobby F. subbuteo Baumfalke
28/3 1 hunting

16. Lanner Falco biarmicus Lanner
28/3 1 hunting
30/3 1 hunting
1/4 pair high antenna SW hotel

17. Quail Coturnix coturnix Wachtel
28/3 1
2/4 2

18. Crane Grus grus Kranich
6/4 6 migr. N, 10.10am

19. Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus Stelzenläufer
6/4 4 Tobia Island

20. Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola Rotflügel-Brachschwalbe
4/4 1 desert
6/4 7 resting Tobia Island

21. Kentish Plover C. alexandrinus Seeregenpfeifer
6/4 1 pair Tobia Island

22. Greenshank T. nebularia Grünschenkel
31/3 1 arriving from SE, beach

23. White-eyed Gull Larus leucophtalmus Weißaugenmöwe
27/3 8 (1+1+2+3+1) migr. N, 5.00-6.00pm
30/3-6/4 1-2 coming in to drink water at the swimming pool
4/4 25 (largest flock 9) migr. N, 5.00-6.00pm
5/4 10 migr. N, 7.00-8.00am

24. Slender-billed Gull L. genei Dünnschnabelmöwe
30/3 3+1
4/4 1
8/4 1+2

25. Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus Lachmöwe
27/3 40 (one flock) migr. N, 1.00pm

26. Lesser Black-backed (Baltic) Gull Larus fuscus fuscus (Baltische) Heringsmöwe
27/3 >100 ad. (largest flock 30) migr. N
28/3 >60 ad. migr. N
4/4 >70 (30) migr. N (all adults but one 1st winter bird)
5/4 >50 migr. N, 7.00-8.00am (all adults but one 1st winter bird)

27. Heuglin´s Gull L. heuglini "Tundramöwe"
(dark grey back with contrasting black primary tips (black-black in nearby fuscus; one small white mirror in P10) 4/4 1 ad. migr. N, 12.00am (together with about 20 fuscus)

28. Caspian Tern Sterna caspia Raubseeschwalbe
27/3-7/4 1-2

29. Crested Tern S. bergii Eilseeschwalbe
28/3 1 migr. N 6.30am

30. Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus Weißbart-Seeschwalbe
4/4 7+20 migr. N, 12.00-12.15am

31. Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon Columba livia / C. l. domestica Felsentaube / Straßentaube
>50 residents

32. Turtle Dove S. turtur Turteltaube
3/4, 4/4, 5/4, 8/4 1

33. Laughing Dove S. senegalensis Palmtaube
About 100 residents (very rough guess)

34. Scops Owl Otus scops Zwergohreule
7/4 1 mobbed intensively by one Hooded Crow, first escaped under garden chair, then in Yucca-tree, 4.00pm

35. Swift Apus apus Mauersegler
5/4 2 migr., 7.10am

36. Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus Blauwangenspint
30/3 1, 12.00am + 2, 4.30pm
31/3 1+1
1/4 2, 6.30am
7/4 5, 7.30am

37. Hoopoe Upupa epops Wiedehopf
1 pair resident

36. Wryneck Jynx torquilla Wendehals
26/3-27/3 1
28/3 5
30/3 2
31/3 3
5/4 0
6/4 1

37. Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla Kurzzehenlerche
30/3 1 migr. N, 6.30am
1/4 >100 resting and 60 migrating N at roadside, desert
4/4 >50 migr. N, desert
8/4 30 migr. N, 6.30am

38. Sand Martin Riparia riparia Uferschwalbe
4/4 3

39. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Rauchschwalbe
Present daily, up to 40 (8/4)

40. Red-rumped Swallow H. daurica Rötelschwalbe
Present daily, up to 50 (26/3, 28/3)

41. House Martin Delichon urbica Mehlschwalbe
1/4 1 desert
4/4 1
7/4 1

42. Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris Brachpieper
26/3-30/3 3
4/4 >10 resting + 10 migr., desert
6/4 1

43. Tree Pipit A. trivialis Baumpieper
About 20 present daily on lawns
4/4 >5 migr. desert
8/4 1 killed by Cattle Egret

44. Red-throated Pipit A. cervinus Rotkehlpieper
About 15 present daily on lawns
4/4 >10 migr. desert

45. Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava Schafstelze
4/4 >20 migr. desert
Subsp. feldegg "Maskenstelze" about >30 present daily on lawns
Subsp. flava "Schafstelze" about 5 present daily on lawns
7/4 10
Hybrid flava x feldegg ("superciliaris") about 2-3 present daily on lawns

46. White Wagtail M alba Bachstelze
>10 present daily

47. Rufous Bush Robin Cercotrichas galactotes Heckensänger
28/3 - 8/4 1

48. Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos Nachtigall
6/4 3
7/4 1

49. Bluethroat L. svecica Blaukehlchen
Recorded daily, some counts:
26/3-28/3 about 10
1/4 17
5/4 2 only
6/4 4
8/4 6
cyanecula: 6, svecica: 3, female-coloured: 6

50. Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus Gartenrotschwanz
30/3, 5/4, 6/4 1 male
7/4 2 males

51. Whinchat Saxicola rubetra Braunkehlchen
6/4, 7/4 1 male
8/4 1 male + 1 female

52. Stonechat Saxicola torquata Schwarzkehlchen
29/3 1 male
31/3 1 1st winter male (probably variegata)

53. Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina Isabellsteinschmätzer
26/3-30/3 1

54. Northern Wheatear O. oenanthe Steinschmätzer
27/3, 28/3, 30/3 1 female
31/3 1 male + 1 female
1/4 3

55. Pied Wheatear O. pleschanka Nonnensteinschmätzer
7/4 1 female

56. Black-eared Wheatear O. hispanica Mittelmeersteinschmätzer
4/4 1 female
6/4 1 male
8/4 2 male (all birds black-throated)

57. Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis Steinrötel
6/4, 8/4 1 female-coloured

58. Savi´s Warbler Locustella luscinioides Rohrschwirl
27/3 2
1/4, 4/4, 7/4 1

59. Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus Schilfrohrsänger
27/3 2
28/3 >10
30/3 40 (one killed by Cattle Egret)
1/4 2
7/4 10

60. Reed / Marsh Warbler A. scirpaceus / A. palustris Teich- / Sumpfrohrsänger
(probable mostly Reed) present daily in small numbers:
28/3 >10
30/3 20
7/4 10
61. Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans Weißbartgrasmücke
28/3 1 male

62. Sardinian Warbler S. melanocephala Samtkopfgrasmücke
28/3 1 female + 1 male
1/4 1 male + 1 female
7/4 1 female

63. Lesser Whitethroat S. curruca Klappergrasmücke
Present daily, often aggregating in Eucalyptus and Callistemon trees, e.g.
28/3 >120
30/3 >150

64. Whitethroat S. communis Dorngrasmücke
28/3 1

65. Eastern Bonelli´s Warbler Phylloscopus (bonelli) orientalis Balkanlaubsänger
27/3 1+1

66. Chiffchaff P. collybita Zilpzalp
Present daily, just one rough count:
28/3 >100

67. Woodchat Shrike L. senator Rotkopfwürger
26/3 1
27/3 2
28/3, 1/4, 6/4 1

68. Masked Shrike L. nubicus Maskenwürger
2/4, 3/4, 6/4, 7/4, 8/4 1

69. House Crow Corvus splendens Glanzkrähe
1 pair, not daily observed

70. Hooded Crow C. (corone) cornix Nebelkrähe
>10 present daily (including one pair)

71. Brown-necked Raven C. ruficollis Wüstenrabe
8/4 1 flying N

72. Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis Weidensperling
Present almost daily, with one larger flock:
28/3 >50

73. House Sparrow P. domesticus Haussperling
Resident with at least 200 birds, some feeding young
27/3 1 killed by Cattle Egret

74. Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana Ortolan
28/3 1

As an 'appetizer' I am adding a list of fishes and some invertebrates I saw while snorkelling for two hours in Soma Bay (near Tobia Island) on 6/4. Reference for ID was Eichler, D. & E. Lieske (1994): Korallenfische Indischer Ozean. - Jahr-Verlag, Hamburg (ISBN: 3-86132-134-3). One has to keep in mind that for the novice just a small proportion of the species seen in the water can be remembered afterwards while browsing through the book. Therefore most fishes seen remained unidentified for me.
Because I am not a fish expert I do not take any guarantee for correct identification.

1. Snowflake Moray Echidna nebulosa Sternfleckmuräne 1
2. Geometric Moray Siderea grisea Weiße Muräne 1
3. Hound Needlefish Tylosurus crocodilus Krokodil-Hornhecht 2
4. Smooth Flutemouth Fistularia commersonii Flötenfisch 7+2
unidentified Grouper fam. Serranidae Zackenbarsch many
5. Coral Grouper Cephalopholis miniata Juwelen-Zackenbarsch 1+1+1
6. Lyratail Anthias Pseudanthias squamipinnis Juwelen-Fahnenbarsch 50-100
7. Lunar Fusilier Caesio lunaris Himmelblauer Füsilier together
8. Suez Fusilier Caesio suevica Rotmeer-Füsilier many 100
9. Red Sea Goatfish Parùpeneùs forsskali Rotmeer-Barbe 5
unidentified Butterflyfish Chaetodon spec. Falterfisch 100s
unidentified Bannerfish Heniochus spec. Wimpelfisch 10s
10. Emperor Angelfish Pomacanthus imperator Imperator c. 5
11. Scissor-tailed Sergeant Abudefduf sexfasciatus Scherenschwanz-Sergeant 100s
12. Half-&-half Chromis Chromis dimidiata Indischer Trauermantel 100s
13. Red Sea Anemonefish Amphiprion bicinctus Rotmeer-Anemonenfisch 10s
14. Great Barracuda Sphyraena barracuda Großer Barrakuda 1+1
15. Humpback Wrasse Cheilinus undulatus Napoleon 1 (70cm)
16. Bird Wrasse Gomphosus caeruleus Blauer Vogelfisch >30
17. Cleaner Wrasse Labroides dimidiatus Gemeiner Putzerfisch 1+3
18. Bicolor Parrotfisch Cetoscarus bicolor Masken-Papageifisch 10s
19. Bullhead Parrotfish Scarus sordidus Kugelkopf-Papageifisch 10s
20. Sohal Surgeon Acanthurus sohal Arabischer Doktorfisch 10s
21. Spotted Unicornfish Naso brevirostris Schärpen-Nasendoktor 10s
22. Striped Mackerel Rastrelliger kanagurta Großmaul-Makrele >100
unidentified Triggerfish fam. Balaistidae Drückerfisch 10s
23. Arabian Picassofish Rhinecanthus assas Arabischer Picassodrücker 10s
24. Scribbled Filefish Aluteres scriptus Schrift-Feilenfisch
25. Ringed Puffer Arothron hispidus Weißflecken-Kugelfisch c. 5
26. Masked Puffer Arothron diadematus Masken-Kugelfisch 10s
Octopus cyanea Gemeiner Riff-Krake 1
Aurelia aurita Ohrenqualle 100s
Thalia democratica Salp 100s

Klemens Steiof + Gisela Lütkenhaus, Wichgrafstraße 16A, D-14482 Potsdam, GERMANY
E-mail: k.steiofATweb.de