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Luxor, Egypt, 3 –10 December 2012, Gary Prescott [Biking Birder 2010] (1 Viewer)

biking birder 2010

Well-known member
For a copy of this bird report on Word please email me at [email protected] This will include maps and photos.

I spent a truly fabulous week at Luxor meeting wonderful, friendly people, seeing the amazing ancient history and the beautiful scenery, whilst enjoying fantastic weather and excellent birding despite the time of year. 77 bird species were seen during the week, many in spectacular numbers; not bad for this ‘wrong time’ of year.

The holiday was booked with lowcostholidays.com with a flight from Gatwick. The cost was just under £300. My car was parked with Airparks at £29 for the 8 days.

As a lone traveler with no experience previously of Luxor the week was full of learning experiences. Where birds were to be found, achievable prices for taxis, boats and hot air balloons, how to deal with the local people and who could be trusted were all things that I got better at as the week progressed. I hope that this report may give some clues so that you don’t fall for some of the things I did, especially the felucca price.

As this was a very last minute, spontaneous holiday actually booked only 2 days before departure I didn’t have time to gen up. Mind you that did give the holiday a true pioneer sense as I explored every area. The combination of ancient history together with many birds has always been a lure to me and this holiday was the most perfect combination of the two.
Accommodation was in the reasonably authentic Hotel Gaddis; 3 stars with perfectly adequate double room and half board. The staff especially in the restaurant and the breakfast chef were lovely and couldn’t do enough for you. Mind you if you are not an early riser, yet as a birder you should be, the 5.00am reading of the Qur’an expounded loudly from the loudspeaker of a nearby mosque may be a problem. I found it useful but was usually outside the hotel at that hour waiting for my pre-booked taxi.
Sunrise was at 6.30am, seen on a couple of mornings from the roof of my hotel. This was accessed via a rather precarious climb but don’t tell health & safety, and sunset was at 5.15pm. During the day the temperature varied around 36 degrees and the evenings didn’t drop below 16 degrees. Early morning was excellent for birding smaller birds and wader numbers seemed higher in the late afternoon. During the day the sky was blue and clear with excellent light for birding, except for one day, Wednesday the 5th, when the sky was cloudy and the temperature a cool [!] 25 degrees in the afternoon after a hot morning.
Unfortunately I only found a really wonderful set of 3 great and very honest taxi drivers late on in the week. Outside the hotel Max [whose real name is Hassan], his brother Ali and friend Ramadan could be found and booked for very early starts. Cost for the day was 100 Egyptian pounds [around £10] for trips out to the East Bank. A trip with another driver, who shall remain nameless, to Edfu was quoted at 300 Egyptian pounds [around £30] but on the way back an argument ensued when he wanted 800. He relented quickly as I thumped the roof and shouted that I wanted the police! He’d been an odious man all day, obsequious and obscene but I must add he was the exception to the people I met during the week.
Naivety on my first negotiation for a felucca ride, a large sailed no engine boat had me ripped off at £60 for the day with 2 guides. I’m sure that it could be done cheaper. Some people I met from the large cruisers had been quoted £120 so beware. Similar over hot air balloon rides. These passengers were quoted between £75 and £90 whereas I got it for £25 on the two occasions when I went up. Indeed I was so grateful to Max, the taxi man, that I paid for him to enjoy his first ever flight with me one morning! This included minibus rides to the launch site and back from the hotel and a quick breakfast of tea or coffee and a cake on a motorboat over the Nile, as well as a 45 minute to 1 hour flight.
It is easy to get to the West Bank by cheap ferry from the East Bank adjacent Luxor Temple. This costs about £1! From the quay on the West Bank one can either walk to the temples and Colossi of Nemnon or get a taxi. Be aware of this when people come up to you and quote prices for Feluccas and taxis etc. There is a rip off the tourist attitude in this area but more honest prices can be found.
There was some of the expected hassle but nothing major except when coming out of Karnack where the sellers stood in front of you and tried to bar your way. Otherwise offers of feluccas, taxis and horse carriage rides were easily deflected with smiles, laughs and quips including the well tried and tested Laa, shukran [No, thank you]. If one showed an understanding of the people’s plight in what are very hard times and used a friendly, sympathetic approach to everyone then this went a long way. There was no nastiness nor persistent people, just people understandably desperate for any business in a city denuded of tourists.
Day 1 Tuesday 4th December 2012
After walking through the side streets behind the Sheraton Hotel, carrying my binoculars and telescope on tripod and enjoying the friendly banter with the Muslim women and young children, I came to a small muddy creek. Here, after negotiating the dirt slope and bricks, and upon finding a section of the ‘beach’ with less rubbish than other areas, I watched pied kingfishers, squacco herons, cattle egrets and graceful prinia at very close range. In a small area of some sort of reeds a moustached warbler was easily seen. Various terns were over the Nile. Looking across to the far, East bank, I could see at least 1,000 pallid swifts flying quite high and along the shoreline I could make out 1 marsh sandpiper, a number of wood sandpipers and spur-winged plovers whilst gull-billed and whiskered terns flew around over the river. Swallows of the very deep rusty red underparted savignii were common here as they proved to be almost everywhere.
I then followed the bank of the Nile south with large trees and then banana plantations with ploughed fields behind these [Banana Island?]. Small birds were very few and far between; hoopoes, palm doves, lesser whitethroat and chiff chaffs in the trees and a number of spur-winged plover on the ploughed fields.
Over the bridge onto what I was told was Crocodile or King’s Island. Squacco heron, pied kingfishers and spur-winged plover were common here and the large trees along the road on the island side of the bridge had good numbers of common bulbul. At the end of the road where new houses were being built on the right a number of little green bee-eaters were seen.
On reaching the Nile riverbank once more and area of tall reeds held a good number of graceful prinia and chiff chaffs, as well as pied kingfishers, spur-winged plovers, little egrets and clamorous reed warblers. Black kites and mostly gull-billed terns were flying around over the Nile.
Hoopoe, white and yellow wagtails were on the lawns around the new apartment blocks here, built for Mobarac apparently but now used by tourists more wealthy than I.
After walking back to my hotel, I went into the gardens of the Sheraton. Here black kites circled and a good number of hooded crows were on the roof and trees. Pied kingfishers and little egrets were along the riverbank; the latter being very tame here.
Day 2 Wednesday 5th December 2012
Up at 5.00am to get a felucca for the day. Met Mazhar and his assistant at the arranged time and was soon having breakfast on his boat. Sunrise from the Nile with hot air balloons and hundreds of glossy ibis overhead.
No wind so a tow from a passing motor boat. Lots of waders along the shore; mostly temminck’s stints but also ruff, black-tailed godwits, greenshank, common and wood sandpipers, black-winged stilts and spur-winged plovers. Also good numbers of pied kingfishers, moorhens, squacco herons, little egrets and purple gallinules, along with the occasional grey heron, coot and singles of great white egret and purple heron.
Reached Aladdin’s Café and went for a long walk around the area. The fields along the side of the river had mostly women looking after sporadic cattle and a few small rectangular crop fields. Unbelievable number of birds here with around 1,000 yellow wagtails of various confusing races, over 100 red-throated pipits, lots of hoopoes, a few crested larks and 100s of swallows [savignii] hawking, overlaid with over 1,000 pallid swifts. A close by black-shouldered kite was being mobbed by 2 angry hoopoes.
A small reedy area had 3 bluethroats feeding along the edge, a purple gallinule and fan-tailed warblers.
Across the fields towards houses a cow tried to get acquainted as I photographed a tame squacco heron. The beautiful young woman chasing it was gorgeously dressed in bright red and a gold embroidered headdress. How could I refuse but stop the cow and grab its trailing rope before handing it back to her.
Lots of cattle egrets here and then a ‘pishing’ session [careful!] brought sedge warbler, graceful prinia, chiff chaffs and a superb male red-spotted bluethroat close. Noticed that a small rat was watching me from atop a nearby bank amongst some tall grasses. Over all this was more good numbers of swallows and pallid swifts, with a few black kites also.
Through some fields to a tarmac road beside a small canal and friendly greetings from the people met, not all of whom asked for money; in fact only a couple of them did. 2 striated herons were disturbed before photos could be taken by vehicles going past. What weren’t disturbed were the 4 one metre long monitor lizards. These were huge beasts and far more impressive than the crocodiles seen in a pen later.
Met a Swiss gentleman who lived here who told of a small café nearby. Found that after seeing around 100 red avadavat feeding amongst a corn crop with common bulbuls and another black-shouldered kite nearby.
Coffee at the café was enjoyed with a couple of Nile sunbirds. Not the more spectacular spring plumage; rather a more detailed lesser whitethroat with dark patches on the breast.
Day 3 Thursday 6th December 2012
In the morning I visited Karnack – 1 striated heron seen on the way with black-headed gulls, black kites and marsh harriers over the Nile. Hoopoe, laughing doves and hooded crows were seen along the riverbank and esplanade.
In the ancient site itself, 2 pale crag martins over the Sacred Lake and a few lesser whitethroat were the only birds of note.
The afternoon was spent on a motorboat [£20 for the 2 hour trip – probably overpriced] and went down to the bridge alongside the east bank, returning along the west.
Bird list for the trip was :-
31 squacco heron, 62 little egret, 7 grey heron, c.140 glossy ibis, 11 purple heron, 1 cattle egret,
37 moorhen, 53 purple gallinule, 13 coot, 1 wigeon,
3 marsh harriers, 6 black kite,
29 temminck’s stint, 1 ringed plover, 5 spur-winged plover, 33 black-winged stilts, 23 black-tailed godwits, 39 ruff, 1 white-tailed plover, 1 dunlin, 6 wood sandpipers, 7 greenshank
1 black-headed gull, 6 gull-billed terns,
1 hoopoe, 16 pied kingfishers, 3 white wagtail, 28 hooded crows, c.200 swallows [savignii], c. 300 pallid swifts.
In some areas, like on the west bank south of Crocodile – King’s Island, there were many birds which couldn’t be counted due to the shallowness of the Nile here and the lumpy nature of the sandbanks. Therefore the numbers here are of what I saw. There were many more! Being on dry land with a ‘scope would give more accurate counts but the fun of cruising the Nile was great. One disappointing thing though is the mass of rubbish along the Nile. In places the plastic rubbish could be matted together a couple of feet deep and the riverbanks everywhere were covered in it. Some children playing on the muddy shores were surrounded by rubbish of various sorts. Where does it all end up?
Back at The Sheraton, I sat on the stone quay counting the birds passing.
21 pied kingfishers, 7 little egret including 1 that walked practically up to me, 5 squacco heron, c.400 glossy ibis heading north followed by 27 a few minutes later,
8 and c.60 wood sandpiper heading north in two groups, 2 ruff
25 hooded crows, 1 black kite.
Day 4 Friday 7th December 2012
After a very early start for a hot air balloon ride over the Temples etc on the East Bank, took a taxi back to that area after breakfast.
Be aware that photography of any sort is NOT allowed anywhere in The Valley of The Kings! Birds seen in the area included pale crag martins with swallows near Harold Carter’s house and a few little green bee-eaters. Two black-shouldered kites were seen on the way here as well as hundreds of cattle egrets and good numbers of hooded crows and laughing [palm] doves
After seeing the tombs I went back to the hotel and went for a walk exploring various crop areas and expanses of derelict ground, searching for birds. Having found little other than house sparrows and cattle egrets, I went down to the Sheraton. I’d met some children the previous day who were rowing two small fishing boats with rough cut planks for oars. Now just for a laugh at first I asked for a lift over to the small island opposite The Sheraton. Into their small boat I got and the Nile was negotiated safely by these deft kids. The island had an area of sand banks to the south, then dozens of small rectangular areas of mud for some sort of cereal crop. These had a couple of hundred crested larks and smaller numbers of red-throated pipits on them. As I went northwards over the island I found three small muddy lagoons on the east side fringed by very tall reeds to the west. As my patch in Britain is the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust reserve called Upton Warren, I immediately thought of these three lagoons as the 3 salt water Flashes to be found there and have named them as such on following days.
On this first late afternoon here the lagoons had 18 squacco herons around them. Also 3 ringed plover, a single green sandpiper and ruff, 2 teal, 3 purple herons, 2 purple gallinules and a white-tailed plover as well as a number of little egrets, moorhen and grey heron. Not bad for small lagoons, each the size of a tennis court disturbed by the kids!
A superb male bluethroat showed itself by the tall papyrus reeds and a flock of 32 cormorants flew over heading north.
I really can’t give these children enough praise. They have so little yet they thrill at such small gifts and laughter comes so easy to them. They are wonderful beyond belief and it is a privilege for me to have their company and service. They are so much better to have for me to use to get to see birds than the felucca and powerboat men, good though they are. And the cost to me is a few Egyptian pounds and tonight a couple of pens and exercise books, a bag of crisps, some butters and jam taken from the café at the hotel and my rucksack, old and battered but still appreciated. Could one ask for more for so little? Mind you health and safety would have a fit.
Day 5 Saturday 8th December 2012
Up at 5.00am to get my booked taxi at 5.30. Actually Ali was late due to prayers but we were soon on our way to the West Bank of the Nile. Ali, a deeply religious Muslim, had the Qur’an playing constantly and told me of his devotion and love for God, of how he hadn’t been to school as a young boy and therefore hadn’t the education to be an Imam.
Ali drove a lot faster than yesterday’s taxi driver and we soon stopped at Memnon and I’m sure he would have looked bemused as I went past this wonderful giant pair of statues to explore the adjacent fields for birds.
http://egyptsites.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/the-colossi-of-memnon
About 100 red-throated pipits, a few meadow pipits and 100 + crested larks with a kestrel, some lesser whitethroat and common bulbuls, a moorhen, a bluethroat and a graceful prinia were my reward for 15 minutes looking.
Next, whilst turning a corner, I saw a wheatear on top of a small rock and with Ali grinding to a halt I ran out to see a hooded wheatear, my first ever. A beautiful black and white bird embellishing a very arid landscape of rocks and pebbles. {For the Birding Clams – Seen it – Bang!]
Next to the Valley of the Queens, which at this time in the morning was almost empty; just a couple of shopkeepers eager for business and three security guards to inspect my ticket.
One of the shopkeepers had put out some sort of mush and water for the birds and here were many house sparrows and 5 trumpeter finches. More trumpeter finches were found behind the toilet block, around 20 of them, some coming down to a small metal bowl of water to drink. Others were scratching around some darker pebbles finding who knows what. A tomb guard couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to go into his tomb straight away and kept shouting for me to join him. Eventually I did but not before finding a couple of white wagtails, a female blue rock thrush, two brown-necked ravens and two more hooded wheatears. On leaving the valley, a couple more blue rock thrushes were seen as well as the trumpeter finches and house sparrows.
Next I went to the magnificent Temple of Medent Habu. I circumnavigated the site looking for birds, instead coming across a curious fox. The only birds were 1 mourning wheatear, 100s of tatty feral pigeons and a similar number of house sparrows.
After visiting The Valley of the Nobles and the Ruins of Deir El Medina, where the tombs contain some of the most wonderful paintings of peregrines, I returned to the hotel and met my ‘ferry’ service for another birding session on Upton Warren Island.
Birds on ‘Upton Warren Island’:-
14 squacco heron, 22 little egret, 8 glossy ibis, 2 grey heron, 1 great white egret,
2 purple gallinule, 9 moorhen
6 temmincks stint, 3 little stint, 2 snipe, 1 wood sandpiper, 2 green sandpiper, 1 greenshank, 1 black-winged stilt, 2 ruff, 6 ringed plover, 2 black-tailed godwits
c.30 red-throated pipits, c.200 crested lark, 24 hooded crows, 3 palm doves, 7 pied kingfishers, c.40 swallows [savignii], 2 common bulbul, 3 fan-tailed warblers,
Day 6 Sunday 9th December 2012
An early morning taxi to Edfu, about 50 or so miles south along the Nile. Once over the modern large bridge from east to west bank I went down to the river for an hour or so birding. I was warned to be careful here as the people were a little more anti-western than in Luxor. I didn’t experience any problems though.
A number of Temminck’s stints, purple herons, white-winged black , gull-billed and black terns and a couple of wood sandpipers, a purple gallinule, 11 glossy ibis, a few little egrets and grey heron and, surprisingly, a stonechat in the reeds. Some white and yellow wagtails completed the scene with hooded crows and house sparrows.
I was approached by a few people offering services or asking for money but nothing too obtrusive.
Next I visited the magnificent temple where a couple of pale crag martins flew with swallows as now seemed usual for Egyptian temples.
Due to the obnoxious nature of my taxi driver today I returned to my hotel and found Max, a fabulous bloke and a complete contrast to the other driver. I asked him how much it would be to go off towards the mountains I’d seen in the desert south-east of Luxor. Fee negotiated and agreed upon and off we set. After passing the airport, the road went past an area where the cities’ rubbish was being burnt in large quantities. This attracted a large number of hooded crows and cattle egrets with smaller numbers of black kites and white wagtails.
Next we drove along dirt tracks trying to get closer to the mountains but to no avail. We stopped to look at some little green bee-eaters, shared with the curious locals through my ‘scope.
Back to the desert road and I went on a long walk over the stony, sandy area to reach the nearest hills, which I climbed to enjoy the views.
We went back to the rubbish burning area to photograph the birds there.
Day 7 Monday 10th December 2012
After yet another early morning hot air balloon ride, I returned to the quay at The Sheraton and met the children for the last time row across to Upton Warren Island. Now Max and I had been into Luxor market earlier and filled a bin liner with presents for these fabulous four. So, leaving them to explore the contents of the bag, I went to the ‘Flashes’.
After this I went by taxi to an area beside a dual carriageway that gave some access to the shallow part of the Nile seen from the powerboat on a previous day. Here I couldn’t get down to the actual shoreline due to a large stone wall but I could ‘scope the sandbanks.
7 white-tailed plover were here as well as ruff, glossy ibis, temmincks etc. The dusty land surrounding me here had 2 spur-winged plover and a black-winged kite quite close and an Indian silverbill was on some nearby stems. An end to the holiday as now the taxi took me to the airport and from 36 degrees C it was back to an icy minus 2 in Britain!
A comprehensive list of bird sightings is itemised below using the order from the new Collins Bird Guide.
Further details are available from the author at [email protected] and on my Facebook page, which includes photos and more detailed diary entries – Gary Prescott [Chester College]
Bird Sightings
1. Eurasian Teal Anas crecca 2 on the second scrape on the island opposite the Sheraton on the East Bank on 8th December.
2. Shovelor Anas clypeata just 1 male seen along the Nile Dec 5th
3. Wigeon Anas Penelope 1 female seen on Nile.
4. Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo Up to 38 seen daily along the Nile
5. Striated heron Butorides striata 2 seen along canal on West Bank and 1 seen on a moored boat adjacent to Luxor Temple.
6. Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis Seen daily, max 5-600+ on 9th
7. Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides Seen daily, max 36 on 5th
8. Little Egret Egretta garzetta Seen daily, max 150+ on 6th
9. Grey Heron Ardea cinerea Seen daily, max 22 on 6th
10. Purple Heron Ardea purpurea up to 4 on Upton Warren Island. Max. 14 on 6th
11. Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus Seen daily, around 500 would be seen just before dawn heading south along the Nile and presumably the same seen heading north around sunset. A wonderful sight.
12. Black Kite Milvus migrans Seen daily, Max 16. 4 seem to roost on the roof of the Sheraton Hotel!
13. Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus up to 5 seen daily along Nile.
14. Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus 2 on 5th, 2 on the 6th and 1 on the 10th.
15. Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 1 roosts on the Mosque’s tower next to the Gaddis Hotel. Other birds seen daily but very sparsely.
16. Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Up to 37 seen along Nile’s shoreline. Common.
17. Eurasian Coot Fulica atra Seen on the Nile on 11th, 12th and 15th. Max 23 on the
18. Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio Seen regularly in reeds anywhere, max 53 along the Nile
19. Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus Up to 33 seen along Nile and seen in various muddy waters in small numbers on most dates.
20. Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula 6 on muddy scrape on ‘Upton Warren Island.
21. Golden plover Pluvialis apricaria 2 flocks seen flying across Nile at height. First flock had around 80 birds, the second had around 50. Both flocks heading east towards the desert [?]
22. Spur-winged Plover Vanellus spinosus Found in pairs and loose flocks on ploughed fields, parking dirt patches and along the Nile. Max 23.
23. White-tailed plover Vanellus leucurus max 5 on muddy area south of Crocodile - King’s Island along the Nile. Others seen on Upton Warren Island.
24. Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii max 29 seen along Nile and up to 12 on muddy scrape Upton Warren Island
25. Little Stint Calidris minuta max 3 muddy scrape Upton Warren Island ,
26. Dunlin Calidris alpine 1 seen on Upton Warren Island. 1 along Nile
27. Ruff Philomachus pugnax max. 5 on 9th. More along Nile in muddy area south of Crocodile – King’s Island
28. Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago 2 on 15th on Upton Warren Island
29. Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa Max 22 along Nile and 2 on Upton Warren Island
30. Marsh sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis 1 on riverbank on the 4th, 2 on the 8th on Upton Warren island.
31. Greenshank Tringa nebularia up to 7 along the Nile and a few on Upton Warren Island on various dates.
32. Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus 1 on the 6th on Upton Warren Island
33. Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareo max c.60 flying north along Nile with max.5 on Upton Warren Island
34. Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos max. 3 along the Nile.
35. Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus Up to 47 seen on sand bank in the Nile on various dates. Also in flight in small numbers over the Nile.
36. Slender-billed gull Larus genei 2 adults with black-headed gulls over the Nile near Luxor Temple on 10th
37. Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica seen in flight along Nile on first day at Luxor. Then not seen
38. Black Tern Chlidonias niger 16 seen in flight at Edfou on 9th
39. White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus Seen In small numbers with other terns over the Nile. Max. 7 at Edfu on the 9th.
40. Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida up to 7 seen over Nile on 4th. 5 at Edfu on 9th
41. Feral Pigeon Columba livia (domest.) Common. Seen daily everywhere.
42. Laughing [palm] Dove Streptopelia senegalensis max 70+ - seen everywhere
43. Pallid Swift Apus pallidus Seen regularly in flight high up, max 1000+ on 5th over West Bank near Aladdin’s café.
44. Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis Up to 40 seen daily fishing over any canal – river habitat
45. Little Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis Cleopatra Seen daily in small numbers. Max 9 on 9th.
46. Hoopoe Upapa epops Seen regularly in ones or twos usually.
47. Crested Lark Galerida cristata Up to 250 seen daily Upton Warren island. Smaller numbers elsewhere.
48. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica savignii Seen daily, max. 3-400 on 5th
Hirundo rustica rustica 2 seen on 10th
49. Pale crag martin Ptyonoprogne obsoleta 2 seen flying over The Sacred Lake, Karnack. 1 flying around entrance to Edfou Temple.
50. Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis A few seen with many red-throated pipits.
51. Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus Good numbers in riverside areas and cultivated fields. Max 3-400 on 5th
52. White Wagtail Motacilla alba alba Up to 50 with 1000+ yellow wagtails but usually singly or in small groups in several locations.
53. Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava flava max 1000+
Motacilla flava thunbergi 1 on 17th on muddy scrape, east Kings Island
54. Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus 3 seen in Sheraton Hotel gardens. 20+in tall trees at entrance to King’s Island. Sammler numbers, usually 1, seen in many locations with all types of vegetation.
55. Bluethroat Luscinia svecica cyanecula Seen in reed-beds; 1 red-spot male on the, 1 on 15th and 2 on 17th
56. Stonechat Saxicola torquata 1 seen in reedbed in corner of Nile where bridge is crossed to enter Edfou.
57. Black-eared wheatear Oenanthe hispanica one seen in desert region along road to Edfou.
58. Mourning wheatear Oenanthe lugens seen near to the temple of Madinat Habu.
59. Hooded wheatear Oenanthe monacha a few seen in the Valley of the Queens and the surrounding area.
60. Blue rock thrush Monticola solitarius male and 2 females seen in the Valley of The Queens.
61. Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis seen regularly in reedbeds and field margins. Max. 14
62. Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis seen regularly and close by too in similar habitat to sitting cisticola. Would seem to be more associated in pairs or 3’s than the latter.
63. Moustached warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon 1 seen in some sort of low reeds in muddy creek area near Banana Island.
64. Reed warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus seen in tall reeds on Crocodile – Kings Island
65. Clamorous reed warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus seen in tall reeds on Crocodile – Kings Island and on West Bank in same
66. Eastern Orphean warbler Sylvia hortensis a couple seen in trees along Nile
67. Sardinian warbler Sylvia melanocephala 1 seen in brash cleared on waste ground near the Sheraton
68. Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curraca Up to 10 or so seen daily in various locations including city trees and bushes. Commonest warbler sp.
69. Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita Up to 3 seen most days around Kings Island
70. Hooded Crow Corvus cornix Up to 86 seen at rubbish tip area east of Luxor. Common daily sight everywhere.
71. Brown-necked raven Corvus ruficollis 2 seen over the Valley of The Queens
72. House Sparrow Passer domesticus Extremely common and abundant – seen daily. Roost of 1000s in trees around mosque next to hotel and most likely in any other of the cities trees. Locals eat them!
73. Spanish sparrow Passer hispaniolensis a few in the tall reeds both on Upton Warren Island and on the land adjacent to the same.
74. Red Avadavat Amandava amandava max 150 in sweetcorn crop on West Bank
75. Trumpeter finch. Rhodopechys githaginea around 25 or so flying around The Valley of The Queens. Drinking from bowl behind toilet block.
76. Nile Valley Sunbird Anthodiaeta metallica 2 seen in café – Aladdin’s on the West Bank
77. Indian Silverbill Lonchura malabarica 1 seen on last morning on waste ground area adjacent to the Nile south of King’s Island on the West Bank. Very confiding. Didn’t come to bread!
Other sightings
Plain Tiger butterfly – 1 seen
Long-tailed Blue butterfly – commonly seen in all agricultural and roadside environs.
Bat species – Some very large ones seen to be roosting in a boarded up, tall unfinished building on the main road near the hotel. They would occasionally fly out into the dark and disappear in the direction of the Nile.

Brown Rat – 1 seen to be watching me as I pished out a very close and superb male red-spotted bluethroat

Moorish Gecko – seen only once on the balcony of my hotels. I was disappointed not to have seen more of these wonderful creatures.
Nile Monitor Lizard 4 of these large creatures seen along a canal behind Aladdin’s Café on the West Bank.

:t:
 

RobertaG

Well-known member
What a wonderful report Gary. It's a long time since my own trip to Luxor and it wasn't a birding holiday, but I do remember how warm and hospitable almost of the people were that we met. Your report has made me want to go back. Thanks for posting.
 

biking birder 2010

Well-known member
What a wonderful report Gary. It's a long time since my own trip to Luxor and it wasn't a birding holiday, but I do remember how warm and hospitable almost of the people were that we met. Your report has made me want to go back. Thanks for posting.

Thanks Robert and Happy Christmas. I'm going back with my daughter as soon as she finishes her second university stint and I know that Max, the children and the security men at the Sheraton will be there to greet me. This will probably be around April s what birds will be there then? Migrants passing through. Also I must visit Dendera next time as I hear that they've cleaned the temple to show the original colours. Maybe see you there!

all the best,

Gary
 

Rob Smallwood

Well-known member
What a wonderful report Gary. It's a long time since my own trip to Luxor and it wasn't a birding holiday, but I do remember how warm and hospitable almost of the people were that we met. Your report has made me want to go back. Thanks for posting.

FExactly my reaction.

You can't stress enough how welcome simple gifts are to the children, and how helpful most of the locals are - great report.
 

joannec

Well-known member
Thanks Biking Birder. I'm going on a Nile trip next month-also got a good deal on price- so your list is really useful. Sounds like a good trip. My other half is into archaeology and I'm going for the birds so hopefully it's satisfy us both.
 

biking birder 2010

Well-known member
Thanks Biking Birder. I'm going on a Nile trip next month-also got a good deal on price- so your list is really useful. Sounds like a good trip. My other half is into archaeology and I'm going for the birds so hopefully it's satisfy us both.

No problem Joanne. I jut hope you both have as fabulous a time as I had. If you see the kids off the Sheraton say Marhaba from Gary for me.

If you look for Max outside the Gaddis Hotel then he'll probably be wearing his black leather jacket. Say the same to him!

Valley of the Queens had the best tombs but there is so much in the area that 10 visits would never be enough to see it all.

Happy Christmas to you both and have a great time when you go.

Please email me over how it went on your return. I'd love to know and it will help me for when my daughter, Rebecca and I go.

Gary Prescott
 

joannec

Well-known member
Thanks Gary. What ID books did you find most useful for The Nile? I've just ordered and received a secondhand copy (£8 from Amazon which can't be bad) of Birds of North Africa and The Middle East by Hollum, Porter et al. I had hoped the distribution maps would be helpful but they are only breeding distribution maps so not so useful for January. Will take that as the plates look good for African birds which aren't in Collins, which I'll also take.
 

biking birder 2010

Well-known member
Thanks Gary. What ID books did you find most useful for The Nile? I've just ordered and received a secondhand copy (£8 from Amazon which can't be bad) of Birds of North Africa and The Middle East by Hollum, Porter et al. I had hoped the distribution maps would be helpful but they are only breeding distribution maps so not so useful for January. Will take that as the plates look good for African birds which aren't in Collins, which I'll also take.

Hi Joanne,

I only took the 2nd edition Collins with me. I also tyook my laptop with me so that I could look up any confusing species. The only one that I am still a little confused over is a rather pale mantled mourning wheatear. I always thought the mantle was darker than the bird I saw and photographed but I have since seen some photos of similar plumaged birds in Morocco.
I have since looked on the internet for certain secies. There is another bird that confuses me though and that is what I still think are pale crag martins. I saw a couple of these at Karnack and at Edfu Temple. Other bird reports state that they are rock martins but I can't agree with what I saw.
Since returning as well as the internet I have been looking through my copy of the 'Advanced Bird Id Handbook'. It's too heavy to have taken with me but has proved most useful. If you make a list of your target birds from my list and any other bird reports that you find [I found a couple on Bird tours - here's the links for you :

http://www.birdtours.co.uk/tripreports/egypt/egypt-26/Egypt-nov-2010.htm

http://www.birdtours.co.uk/tripreports/egypt/egypt16/egypt-dec-04.htm

but there are others.]

Then look up each of the birds on wykopaedia. Some of the description pages have good distribution maps.

If you want to see my photos of the birds and have the maps too that I've sorted out then please email me at

[email protected]
 

MSA

I may be relaxed but I'm not drunk....
Great stuff Gary - got back 2am from a Nile cruise which spent quite a bit of time in Luxor, my own report to follow shortly! Interesting to see overlaps (and differences) between our experiences.
 

biking birder 2010

Well-known member
Great stuff Gary - got back 2am from a Nile cruise which spent quite a bit of time in Luxor, my own report to follow shortly! Interesting to see overlaps (and differences) between our experiences.

I presume you saw some ducks! Really though can you email me when you put your report on at

[email protected]

I'll be very interested to see it.

Have a great New Year:t:
 

joespy

Well-known member
Hia Gary,
An excellent birding report and experience...but can I ask about the Black Kites... it's just that when I was at Luxor last year the only Kites I saw were the Egyptian variety of Black Kite ....the Yellow-Billed Kite. I wondered, not being an expert would this be the same as/another name for, the Black shouldered Kite you have mentioned or is there a third variety....?
Cheers Joe
 

biking birder 2010

Well-known member
Hia Gary,
An excellent birding report and experience...but can I ask about the Black Kites... it's just that when I was at Luxor last year the only Kites I saw were the Egyptian variety of Black Kite ....the Yellow-Billed Kite. I wondered, not being an expert would this be the same as/another name for, the Black shouldered Kite you have mentioned or is there a third variety....?
Cheers Joe

Hi Joe.
Thanks for asking that. From what I saw they were black kites as per Milvus migrans. I didn't notice any of the yellow-billed but then again, to be honest, the thought of that being a possibility hadn't occured to me. Now here's another reason to go back and check it out! What time of year did you go Joe?
I've looked on other bird reports this evening and yellow-billed was mentioned in one dated March. The other reports only mention 'migrans'. I've also searched through my photos and there are only 2 of black kites, neither are conclusive either way.
Right, my curiosity is up over this. Can anyone help?
Brilliant Joe. This is what a forum is all about. I'm thrilled that this has been mentioned.
Shows that I should look at every feature of every bird and not just overlook a species as just another black kite. Or as Blowers says on Test Match Special in India - kitehawks! :t:
 

MSA

I may be relaxed but I'm not drunk....
Certainly the kites I saw well were all presumed to be Yellow-billed, which, apart from the bill colour (not always particularly obvious), had very rufous underparts. Black-shouldered Kites are a different species.
 

joespy

Well-known member
Hi Joe.
Thanks for asking that. From what I saw they were black kites as per Milvus migrans. I didn't notice any of the yellow-billed but then again, to be honest, the thought of that being a possibility hadn't occured to me. Now here's another reason to go back and check it out! What time of year did you go Joe?
I've looked on other bird reports this evening and yellow-billed was mentioned in one dated March. The other reports only mention 'migrans'. I've also searched through my photos and there are only 2 of black kites, neither are conclusive either way.
Right, my curiosity is up over this. Can anyone help?
Brilliant Joe. This is what a forum is all about. I'm thrilled that this has been mentioned.
Shows that I should look at every feature of every bird and not just overlook a species as just another black kite. Or as Blowers says on Test Match Special in India - kitehawks! :t:

Gary,
It was 2nd week in Dec. last year. I'd been on a Nile cruise 3yrs earlier and, like yourself, had been blown away by the sheer volume of different birds. I cracked 96 species myself but I'm not, as I said, that good a birder, and only took my bins as a last resort...! I took a lot of advice and give credit on detection from another bloke on board, his name's Jack, from Filey, he has a cafe on the Brigg. I think he recorded near 120 species....... Anyway I'd seen what I thought was Black kite migrans, and it was only after returning home and, as you do, checking the Collins 2nd edition properly, that I realised that aegyptius was more than probable. So I gave them a better dose of looking at last year and sure enough, on 3 separate occasions, seeing one in different locations around Luxor they were Yellow Billed...
.....As an aside, for anyone who wants to go birding to Egypt with a bit of comfort and not much effort (unlike yourself) a Nile cruise is top of my list of advice. They wouldn't get 96 or even 70 for that matter from just the boat but I reckon 50ish would happen....
I think my "nicest" bird was the White Crowned Wheatear, and the next would be Rock Martin both at Abu Simbel..
Cheers Joe
 

joespy

Well-known member
Link to trip report for my recent Nile cruise HERE

An excellent trip report Mark and more or less mirrors our trip... as an addition (nowt to do with birding) we had a balloon flight over the Valley of the Kings. It was a pre-dawn start but to see the sun rise and the colour changes over the hills made it truly memorable, for anyone else who goes, I'd make this a must do.
 

biking birder 2010

Well-known member
An excellent trip report Mark and more or less mirrors our trip... as an addition (nowt to do with birding) we had a balloon flight over the Valley of the Kings. It was a pre-dawn start but to see the sun rise and the colour changes over the hills made it truly memorable, for anyone else who goes, I'd make this a must do.

Totally agree with you over the balloon trip. So good I had to go twice! At £25 a time - cheap as chips.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE. 3:)
 

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