Red Breasted Merganser pair
Driving up to Heathrow on the 17th March and I saw a pair of roe deer, stock doves, and a red kite at the M3/A303 junction. It was cold and grey with snow on the ground in places, a complete contrast to Luxor which was hot and sunny!
Luxor was amazing as usual with some fantastic sight seeing in perfect weather and I managed some great birds too with 4 lifers - Senegal thick knee, little bittern, blue cheeked bee-eater and clamorous reed warbler.
Clamorous Reed Warbler
Frustrating birds number 1 were the pair of trumpeter finches that were feeding around my feet in the Valley of The Kings - unfortunately there are no cameras allowed in the Valley so I was unable to get any photos of what were incredibly tame and very beautiful birds. Frustrating birds number 2 were 3 small flocks of sandgrouse which flew across the road on a trip across the desert to the temple at Abydos - the minibus driver was hurtling along at almost jet engine take off speed and I only managed brief views but they were the first sandgrouse species I have ever seen.
I had 2 trips to the Maritime Jolie Ville Hotel complex on Kings Island, about 5 minutes away by taxi from the Isis Hotel where we were staying. The first trip started off well but after an hour the wind picked up and a dust storm arrived, a fine yellow talc like dust which hampered visibility and forced the birds in to cover. The second trip was much better weatherwise and I met a chap called Gary, aka The Biking Birder, who provided a second set of eyes for bird spotting and was very pleasent company too.
Birds seen at Kings Island included glossy ibis, spur winged plover, female marsh harrier, black winged kite, snipe, purple swamp hen, yellow wagtails ( of the Egyptian race pygmaea and Russian race beema), purple heron, olivaceous warbler, masked shrike, Nile Valley sunbird, lesser whitethroat and whiskered tern.
Birding from the Maritme Jollie Ville Hotel on Kings Island
Spur Winged Plover
Purple Swamphen - Egyptian madagascariensis race
Yellow Wagtail - beema race
Female Masked Shrike
Male Nile Valley Sunbird
Birds seen throughout the week included hoopoe (or Hod Hod birds as the Egyptians call them), black kite (of the Egyptian aegyptius race), swallows ( of the Egyptian savignii race with red underparts along with a few more usual rustica), pied kingfisher, common bulbul, graceful prinia, hooded crow, little green bee-eater, striated heron, brown necked raven, pallid swift, palm dove and black winged stilts. More familiar birds included house sparrow, cormorant, green sandpiper, moorhen, grey heron, black headed gull, curlew and little egret.
Hoopoe - or Hod Hod Bird
Black kite - aegyptius race with yellow bill
Little Green Bee-eater - Egyptian cleopatra race
Little Green Bee-eater
And so it was an excellent week - The Valley of the Kings was as exciting and interesting as ever and relatively quiet as fewer tourists are visiting Egypt at the moment following the Revolution. We had no problems what so ever while we were there other than the usual hassles from vendors even more desperate for trade than usual so now is an excellent time to visit with not too hot weather, amazing tombs and temples and fewer than usual people with some excellent birds too.