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Home » Birds, Nature, Travel » Storks falling from the sky at Sharm El Sheikh sewage ponds in Egypt

Storks falling from the sky at Sharm El Sheikh sewage ponds in Egypt

Posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2007 at 6:17 pm CET

Yesterday we visited the sewage plant North East of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt to look for birds. We had a very hard time getting there as our taxi driver didn’t speak English (see the directions below), but the visit was well worth all the trouble. We saw many birds, including thousands of White Storks!

Storks were arriving by the hundreds as they came flying in from the mountains. Egypt is a very important country on the stork’s migration route along the Eastern flyway. During autumn, at least 500,000 storks pass through Egypt (or 80% of the European population, we read somewhere), the majority flying through Eastern Sinai. We were amazed by the many storks arriving here from the mountains, especially after we had just spent over a week in Southern Sinai and had not seen a stork anywhere! On this photo (click to enlarge) you can see the Storks flying in from the North. It was like a stork highway and they came from as far as you could see.

What was also remarkable were the dozens of dead storks laying everywhere, which was the one thing that most interested our bored taxi driver who was instructed by the policemen to stay with us as we walked around the area. He made sure to point each one out to us.

As we watched the storks on the other side of the pond, a squadron of White Pelicans came gliding in and set down among the tight pack of storks:

White Pelicans at Sharm El Sheikh sewage ponds

Another treat were the (Common) Cranes walking around. We had never seen cranes except for a flash of one from a train in Holland (trip to Texel in May 2007).

Common Cranes at Sharm El Sheikh sewage ponds

Common Crane at Sharm El Sheikh sewage ponds

We were also pleased to find one of our target species, these Spur-winged Plovers, which we had earlier this year also seen in The Gambia (January 2007).

Spur-winged Plovers at Sharm El Sheikh sewage ponds

There was a lone Glossy Ibis walking among the rubbish:

Glossy Ibis at Sharm El Sheikh sewage ponds

The place was also crawling with Black Kites:

Black Kite at Sharm El Sheikh sewage ponds

A few days earlier we had visited St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai looking for Sandgrouse and Sinai Rosefinches, but didn’t find any. But here at these sewage ponds we did find this group of Spotted Sandgrouse and Crowned Sandgrouse, which was a nice bonus:

Spotted and Crowned Sandgrouse at Sharm El Sheikh sewage ponds

Birds we saw on our visit: Thousands of White Storks, 6 White Pelicans (of which 2 juveniles), 5 Common Cranes, a Little Egret, many Black Kites, lots of Red-throated Pipits and Pied Wagtails, a Common Snipe, Spotted and Crowned Sandgrouse, Redshanks, Common Terns, a Glossy Ibis, two Common Coots and about 20 Spur-winged Plovers.

We used directions from trip reports by Richard Bonser, Bob Swann and Graeme Wallace, but still had quite a hard time getting there due to a blocked road, a confused non-English speaking taxi driver and suspicious policemen who all had no idea where we wanted to go. Here’s a map (taken from Google Maps) that might help you find the ponds:

How to get there

  1. From the main road in Na’ama Bay take the dirt road going north toward the mountains next to the Marriot hotel (there are actually two Marriot hotels on either side of the road);
  2. Follow this road north and cross the ring road. You cannot cross the road directly so you’ll need to get on the ring road and make a U turn;
  3. Then after about a kilometer you’ll get to another large road. The above trip reports said to go straight here and you’ll find the sewage ponds on the right, but on our visit this road was closed, so we turned right and made a U turn after the police checkpoint;
  4. Then turn right onto a dirt road that leads to some trees and small white buildings. There you can park the car and start your walk around the ponds.

From the ring road you can already see hundreds of storks sitting on the concrete side of the ponds. Our confused taxi driver stopped at the police checkpoint and had a discussion with the policemen who all had no idea where we wanted to go. We pointed at the storks and told them that we wanted to look at birds at the ponds, but they seemed to not understand the words ‘sewage’, ‘ponds’, ‘water’ or even ‘birds’. In the end the policemen gave in and let the taxi driver take us there but they told him to stay with us at all times. During our walk around the ponds we saw another tourist drive around in a rented car but he didn’t get out of his car. We wondered if the police told him to not get out of his car. It must be very suspicious to them to see us at a government facility with binoculars, cameras and spotting scopes.



Dec 23, 2007
11:29 pm
#1 shearwater wrote:

Visited Sharm in September 2007.See my Flickr page

Dec 23, 2007
11:31 pm
#2 shearwater wrote:

Hi again. Did you manage any photos of Spotted Sandgrouse?? I only saw Crowned and Leichensteins in September

Jan 10, 2008
3:56 pm
#3 Abdelaal Ahmed wrote:

i want to know all birds which migration in sharm
and the time for it

please reply urgently on my mail address

and thanks

Dec 29, 2012
5:42 am
#4 Georg w Busch wrote:

thank youy Avery usefull I Will go birdwatchinh in 15 Days

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