Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Egypt, 24th September - 3rd October 2012

Egypt placed the successful bid for hosting Davids sumptous birthday holiday extravaganza this year and on the 24th September ten assorted friends and family headed off to Cairo for a sunshine and sightseeing holiday. I wasn't expecting much in the way of birdlife but was pleasently surprised at what I saw.

 The Sphinx and The Great Pyramid of Cheops
Mosque of Sultan Hassan and the Rifai Mosque

We started off by staying at The Marriot Hotel in the centre of Cairo, a very nice hotel by The Nile and with a very pleasent garden and swimming pool area.  Hooded crows, house sparrows and ring necked parakeets were very obvious while barn swallows of the Egyptian savignii race with very ruddy coloured underparts constantly flew around overhead.

Hooded Crow

Ring Necked Parkeet

Savignii race Barn Swallows

Common bulbuls, graceful prinias, hoopoes and palm doves provided more exotic fare along with a fly over black kite and a small flock of noisey bee-eaters. A white breasted kingfisher was briefly seen noisely flying in to a tree top never to be seen again.

Common Bulbul
Graceful Prinia

Palm Dove

At dusk I would head across the road from the hotel to the Nile corniche, joining locals fishing for what I think were Nile perch. Pied kingfishers were obvious and noisey and I had a brief view of a common kingfisher quietly perched on a rock by the water. Little egrets and squacco herons were seen along with 2 adult and a juvenile night heron and a green heron.

My Birding Spot on The Nile

Pied Kingfisher

Little Egret
 Squacco Heron
Green Heron

One morning from the room balcony I saw a flock of terns fishing along the river and later that day when I walked out to the corniche I found just 2 left, a juvenile common tern and a new bird for me, an adult summer plumaged gull-billed tern.

The second part of the holiday was spent at The Mena House Hotel at Giza, right at the foot of the Pyramids, and another very nice hotel with a large garden and swimming pool. New birds seen here included a juvenile masked shrike being mobbed by house sparrows, a white wagtail, cattle egrets and a much better but still brief view of a white breasted kingfisher flying between the trees. I also saw some more familiar rustica race barn swallows amongst the savignii race barn swallows flying around overhead.

Cattle Egret

A trip to Memphis provided excellent views of little green bee-eaters feeding from metal railings. They were of the Egyptian cleopatra race with a dark throat band, a small area of blue on the face and long central tail feathers.

 Little Green Bee-Eaters
Little Green Bee-Eater

Other wildlife seen included African monarch, African migrant, painted lady, common tiger blue and long tailed blue butterflies along with what I think is a species of skipper butterfly.

 African Monarch
African Migrant - Catopsilia florella
Painted Lady
 Common Tiger Blue
 Long Tailed Blue
Blue Sp.?
Skipper Sp.?

Some very jazzily patterned blue tailed lizards were seen sun bathing on the walls by the swimming pool at The Mena House.

"Jazzy" Lizard Sp.

While walking through the grass at The Mena House I disturbed hundreds of moths made up of 2 species but I have no idea what they are. I also saw what I think were Pyrausta aurata moths feeding on mint flowers.

Unknown Moth Sp.
Unknown Moth Sp.

Lots of dragonflys were seen but they were way too fast in the hot sunshine to ever get a really good look at them. Lots of large and fast flying bees and wasps were seen too.

 Crocothemis erythrea Dragonfly
Large Hornet Sp.
And so it was a great holiday with some great sight seeing and some great wildlife, a total of 26 species of birds were seen with a nice lifer too.


  1. The dragon is Crocothemis erythrea and the Monarch is African Monarch


    1. Thanks for the ID, I had no ideas as to the dragonfly species, and I was wondering if the monarch was in fact a plain tiger or African monarch.