Friday, April 24, 2009

Brayka Bay, Marsa Alam, Egypt, Part 6

It was all the natty wheeze of Grandma Monika. Why not get the family together for a grand, blowout holiday – how about at the snorkelling paradise of the Red Sea coast of Egypt? So, in mid-April 15 members of the Weedon clan flew off to Brayka Bay resort, Marsa Alam, about halfway up the eastern coast of Egypt.

It is an all-inclusive style resort. Cross through the western gates and over the road and all there is is the endless Eastern Desert. Roll out of bed and across the lawn awaits the sea, the reef, the fish, the coral, the turtles.

The lawn and flowering bushes seem to be watered 24-7, the only greenery as far as the eye can see. The result? A literal oasis for migrating birds heading north through parched Africa to Europe.

Every morning I awoke early to carry out a 5 o'clock roll call of what had dropped in in the night. Every morning had one or two new treats.

In addition to resident White-crowned Black Wheatears, Cattle Egrets, Spur-winged Plovers, Brown-necked Ravens, Laughing Doves, Kestrela dn Sparrowhawk, Reef Herons and a few Spanish Sparrows, there was a fines spread of juicy migrants. We had Quail underneath our drying swimming costumes, more races of Yellow Wagtail than there are in the book, more Bluethroats (white-spotted and red-spotted) than I have seen before in my life, more Nightingales than it is is healthy to gather, a regular roosting flock of nine Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, plus passing Montagu's and Marsh Harriers, and more Lesser Whitethroats than breed in the whole PBC area.

I'll break down the migrants later.
For me the absolute highlight was taking the children out on individual hand-held snorkelling trips over wonderful reefs. But coming up second were my first ever sea turtle (a wonderful experience to watch it feeding over some 45 minutes); plus swimming over a white-tipped reef shark and seeing some superb puffer fish etc.

Between the 15 of us, there was only one hospitalization, one case of gastroenteritis requiring a drip, one near drowning of a five-year-old, one double ear infection, and only 15 or so cases of diarrhoea, so no real problems there.

But as Grandpa Barry and Grandma Monika would doubtless concur, the display of teeth in the gang was excellent!
Thanks very much for a wonderful holiday xxx

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