10 Feb 2014

10 Feb 14 - Back On The Road To Nowhere

Throughout the 8th I was suffering from a really bad cold which I had woken up with. I failed to shake it off during the day & by 22:00 I gave up on driving as we were still out spotlighting on the road back to Dakhla. I think it was about 01:00 when Richard & John woke me to say we were finally back at the hotel. Still feeling rough the following morning, I turned down the sea & cetacean watching plans around Dakhla. I also declined the late afternoon trip back to the Aoussard road & the spotlighting that was to follow. The others arrived back about 05:00, tired but elated after having seen a Sand Cat. Richard & John didn't reappear until early that afternoon. Although my cold hadn't cleared & I had a nasty cough which didn't clear until well after my return to the UK, I was at least up to birding again. So we grabbed some lunch & then headed out seawatching from the Southern part of the Dakhla Peninsula. There was no joy with the hoped for Atlantic Humped-backed Dolphins, but we did see some Seabirds that wouldn't be unexpected in the UK with Storm-petrels, Gannets, Cormorants & Bonxies. But there were also some more interesting species.
The Southern end of Dakhla Peninsula has this poor squatters camp
The seaward coast of Dakhla
Western Reef Heron: This is the nominate gularis subspecies
Western Reef Heron
Greater Flamingo: This is a monotypic species & therefore the same subspecies to the Flamingos I saw in Gujarat
Oystercatcher: Some of the European ostralegus subspecies winters as far South as Africa
Bar-tailed Godwit
Audouin's Gull: Adult & 2nd Winter (behind)
Lesser Black-backed Gull: Adult
Slender-billed Gull
We had an early dinner as we were planning on spotlighting along the Aoussard road again for the whole of the night. By about 20:30 we were leaving Dakhla. It was a more successful night of spotlighting, but sadly no Sand Cats seen. But we did see a Fennec Fox, 3 Ruppell's Foxes & 2 Saharan Striped Polecats, as well as a few African Savannah Hares, Lesser Egyptian Jerboas & Lesser Egyptian Gerbils. Also there was a single Pharaoh Eagle Owl. Unfortunately, none of the mammals or the Pharaoh Eagle Owl were close to the road.
Pharaoh Eagle Owl: This is the desertorum subspecies which occurs to the South of the nominate ascalaphus subspecies (which stretches from Morocco to Egypt & West Iraq)
Ruppell's Fox