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Monday 5th October - Tuesday 20th October 2009

Derek Scott

This year’s Birdquest tour to Egypt and Jordan was a slightly shorter, customized version of the 2008 tour, and omitted the northern Gulf of Suez, the interior of Sinai and Wadi Rum. Fortunately, these changes made little difference to our success with the regional specialities, and our trip total of 175 was only six short of the total in 2008. Highlights included: Greater Painted-snipe, Senegal Thick-knee, Kittlitz’s Plover, Senegal Coucal and White-throated Kingfisher in the Nile Delta; Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Temminck’s Horned Lark, Palestine Sunbird, Tristram’s Starling and Sinai Rosefinch in Jordan; big movements of White Storks and Common Cranes, over 150 Levant Sparrowhawks, an Eastern Imperial Eagle, a wide assortment of other raptors, and Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse, Spotted Sandgrouse, Namaqua Dove and Hooded Wheatear in southern Sinai; Brown Booby, Sooty Falcon, Sooty Gull, White-eyed Gull and White-cheeked Tern amongst the islands off Hurghada in the Red Sea; African Swamp-hen, Isabelline Shrike and Nile Valley Sunbird at Luxor in the Nile Valley; and African Collared Dove, Egyptian Nightjar, African Pied Wagtail and Cyprus Wheatear at Abu Simbel on the shores of Lake Nasser. But this was not purely a birding tour, and we spent many happy hours visiting some of the world’s oldest and greatest antiquities: the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx and the Step Pyramid of Saqqara near Cairo, the spectacular ‘Rose-red City’ of Petra in Jordan, the temples of Karnak and Luxor on the east bank of the Nile at Luxor, the Valley of the Kings, the Colossi of Memnon and the Temple of Hatshepsut on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor, and the Great Temple of Ramses II and Temple of Hathor at Abu Simbel. And, of course, we spent some time at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo admiring the fabulous treasures taken from Tutankhamun’s tomb.