Wildlife around the Royal Pensee Garden Resort (Egypt)

I spent in the Royal Pensee Garden Resort, 22 km south of El Qoseir (also known as El Quseir or Quseir, القصير‎‎ in arabic) a week. During this time I had the possibility to evaluate rather clearly the “naturalistic potential” of the hotel and the surrounding area, going birding and snorkeling most of the time.

El Qoseir is a town of about 50.000 inhabitants along the eastern coast of Red Sea, in Egypt, situated 138 km south of Hurgada and 139 north of Marsa Alam. Even if surrounded by the turistical resorts of the Red Sea, El Qoseir has maintained a very authentical appearence, with just a couple of tourist stores, a lot of mosques and a beautiful seafront where smoke peacefully a shisha.

The Royal Pensee Garden Resort faces, together with the Utopia Beach Club resort, to a small bay where the coral reef has a gap. I suppose that this gap was naturally generated by the wadi that flow into the sea right there. The presence of the wadi means that the zone is quite rich of water, in comparison with the neighboring areas, with the presence of scattered acacias, palms and shrubs. In addition, there are 4 different freshwater lakes with some reedbeds, apparently more reservoirs than sewages of the hotels. There were around still some migrants, even if I was in mid June, so I suppose that they should be amazing places for birdwatching during the migration season.

I tryied once to walk along the wadi for a couple of kilometers inland: there were signs of recent presence of water, as well as maquis of still green bushes and acacias, funny eroded rocks and interesting succulent plants, but also incredible amounts of rubbish, partially carried by the water, partially by the wind. It’s very sad to walk in that potentially beatiful landscapes and to encounter such a regrettable showing… I couldn’t locate any desert bird, but I felt safe in walking there: the only few local people passing by pick-up looked friendly.

Talking about the hotel, the Royal Pensee Garden Resort has passed its best and now appears in most of the rooms and sides old and quite decadent. The staff is in average good, the couisine not too bad, even if not so various during the days, and the worse aspect is the haughtiness and uselessness of reception staff. By night, with the caracteristic towers and the lights could show slighly better.

I chosed that hotel, more than for services, because of the very well preserved coral reef and the possibility to get there easily from the gap in front of the bay. The reef satisfied the expectations, with a great variety of sea-life and wonderful corals, although the frequent strong winds from the sea and the waves often moved the sediments and reduced the visibility. Some shallow water lagoons with sandy sea bottom and scattered corals are situated inside the external reef chain, allowing an easy snorkeling even to the less good swimmers or during the rough sea days.

The bay and the coral lagoons were not only a great place for snorkeling, but for birdwatching as well, expecially in early morning or late afternoon.

I took part to a couple of excursions organized by the diving of the hotel that were described in these other posts:

I finish my short presentation of the area with the rich CHECK LIST OF WILDLIFE I observed and identify in the area of Royal Pensee Garden Resort during the week I spent there between 10th and 17th June 2017.

* all the underwater pictures were not taken with a professional equipment, but by just an old Nikon Coolpix 5200 with waterproof case, so I apologize for the low quality of the shots.

MAMMALS

1. Egyptian free-tailed bat (Tadarida aegyptiaca): at least one individual heard and observed in the garden of the resort, not far from the beach.

Collage of pictures of Egyptian free-tailed bat (Tadarida aegyptiaca)
Collage of pictures of Egyptian free-tailed bat (Tadarida aegyptiaca)

BIRDS

1. Garganey (Anas querquedula): 1 individual in the lakes the 12 June 2017.

2. Striated Heron (Butorides striata): 1 or 2 individuals daily in resting near the lakes or fishing in the lagoons in front of the resort.

Striated Heron (Butorides striata)
Striated Heron (Butorides striata)

3. Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides): some individuals daily in the garden of the resort, with the maximum number (8) observed, after sunset, roosting in a reedbed of the lakes.

4. Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis): 1 individual daily in the garden of the resort.

5. Western Reef Egret (Egretta gularis schistacea): 1-2 individuals daily in the lagoons or on the beach in front of the resort.

6. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus): at least a pair, but probably more individuals fishing daily in the lagoons and perching on antennas, beach umbrellas and palms of the resort.

7. Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus): 1-2 individuals hunting in the garden of the resort.

8. Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus): 1 individual the 12th and the 14th June 2017 in the lakes.

9. White-eyed Gull (Ichthyaetus leucophthalmus): 5-6 individuals in flight daily along the reef line.

White-eyed Gull (Ichthyaetus leucophthalmus)
White-eyed Gull (Ichthyaetus leucophthalmus)

11. Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia): 1 individual the 12th, the 15th and the 17th June 2017 flying and fishing along the shore.

12. Lesser Crested Tern (Thalasseus bengalensis): a ten of individuals the 12th June 2017 fishing on the lagoons in front of the resort.

13. White-cheeked Tern (Sterna repressa): 2 individuals in flight offshore the 17th June 2017.

14. Rock Pigeon (Columba livia var. domestica): some tens of individuals around the resort.

15 Laughing Dove (Spilopelia senegalensis): at least a dozen of individuals around the resort.

16. European Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto): a couple of individuals near the lakes.

17. Pharaoh Eagle-owl (Bubo ascalaphus): 1 individual seen for few seconf flying to the roof of a tower of the resort the 15th June 2017.

18. Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus): 1 individual the 14th June 2017 in flight over the lakes.

Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)
Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)

19. Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis): a pair fishing in the late afternoon on the lagoons in front of the resorts or perching on the the lamps of the pier.

20. European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster): 2-3 individuals the 12th and the 14th June 2017 near the lakes.

21. Sand Martin (Riparia riparia): a dozen of individuals the 12th June 2017 flying above the lakes or resting on the ground.

Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)

22. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica): some individuals daily.

23. Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica): 1-2 individuals daily in the garden of the resort or along the lakes.

24. Common House Martin (Delichon urbicum): few individuals daily in the garden of the resort or near the lakes.

25. Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix): at least 4 individuals around the resort.

26. Red-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis): at least 4 individuals around the resort.

Red-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis)
Red-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis)

27. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) some tens of individuals expecially along the beach.

REPTILES

1. Yellow Fan-fingered Gecko (Ptyodactylus hasselquistii): plenty of individuals on the walls of the resort.

2. Bosk’s Fringe-toed Lizard (Acanthodactylus cf. boskianus): 1 individual in the wadi the 14th June 2017.

Bosk's Fringe-toed Lizard (Acanthodactylus cf. boskianus)
Bosk’s Fringe-toed Lizard (Acanthodactylus cf. boskianus)

RAY-FINNED FISHES

1.  Giant Moray (Gymnothorax javanicus): one very big individual the 15th and one more individual the 17th June 2017 in the reef in front of the resort.

2.  Snowflake Moray (Echidna nebulosa): 1 individual the 15th June 2017 in very shallow water in a lagoon in front of the resort.

3. Banded Snake Eel (Myrichthys colubrinus): 1 individual the 11th June 2017 in a lagoon in front of the resort.

Banded snake eel (Myrichthys colubrinus)
Banded snake eel (Myrichthys colubrinus)

4.  Sand Lizardfish (Synodus dermatogenys): 1 individual in a lagoon in front of the resort the 17th June 2017.

Sand lizardfish (Synodus dermatogenys)
Sand lizardfish (Synodus dermatogenys)

5. Silverside sp. (Atherinidae): some shoals in a lagoon in front of the resort.

6. Needlefish sp. (Tylosurus sp.): few single individuals in a lagoon in front of the resort.

7.  Red Sea Halfbeak (Hyporhamphus gamberur): few individuals in a lagoon in front of the resort.

8. Silverspot Squirrelfish (Sargocentron caudimaculatum): some individuals in the shady sides of the reef in front of the resort.

Silverspot squirrelfish (Sargocentron caudimaculatum)
Silverspot squirrelfish (Sargocentron caudimaculatum)

9. Sammara Squirrelfish (Neoniphon sammara): few individuals in the shady sides of the reef in front of the resort.

10. Blue-spotted Cornetfish (Fistularia commersonii): tens of individuals in the lagoons in front of the resort.

11. Network Pipefish (Corythoichthys flavofasciatus): few individuals in the lagoons in front of the resort.

Network Pipefish (Corythoichthys flavofasciatus)
Network Pipefish (Corythoichthys flavofasciatus)

12. Devil Firefish (Pterois miles): some individuals in the reef and in the lagoons in front of the resort.

Devil Firefish (Pterois miles)
Devil Firefish (Pterois miles)

13. Radial Lionfish (Pterois radiata): few individuals in the lagoons in front of the resort.

14. Peacock Hind (Cephalopholis argus): a frequent species in the lagoons in front of the resort.

Peacock Hind (Cephalopholis argus)
Peacock Hind (Cephalopholis argus)

15. Blacktip Grouper (Epinephelus fasciatus): one individual in the reef the 11th June 2017.

Blacktip grouper (Epinephelus fasciatus)
Blacktip grouper (Epinephelus fasciatus)

16. Sea Goldie (Pseudanthias squamipinnis): tens of individual in the outer side of the reef.

Sea Goldie (Pseudanthias squamipinnis)
Sea Goldie (Pseudanthias squamipinnis)

17. Goldenstriped Soapfish (Grammistes sexlineatus): few individuals in the reef.

18. Orchid Dottyback (Pseudochromis fridmani): few individuals in the shady sides of the reef.

Orchid dottyback (Pseudochromis fridmani)
Orchid dottyback (Pseudochromis fridmani)

19. Target Fish (Terapon jarbua): few individuals in the shallow water of lagoons.

20.  Blackside Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri): many single individuals in the reef.

Blackside hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri)
Blackside hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri)

21. Bluefin Trevally (Caranx melampygus): few individuals in the reef.

Bluefin trevally (Caranx melampygus)
Bluefin trevally (Caranx melampygus)

22. Blackspot Snapper (Lutjanus ehrenbergii): some individuals in the lagoons.

23. Twinspot Snapper (Lutjanus bohar): few very big individuals in the outer reef.

24. Lunar Fusilier (Caesio lunaris): few individuals in the reef.

25. Strongspine Silverbiddy (Gerres longirostris): few individuals in the lagoons.

26.  Common Silverbiddy (Gerres oyena): few individuals in the lagoons.

27. Bigeye Emperor (Monotaxis grandoculis): few individuals in the reef.

28.  Sky Emperor (Lethrinus mahsena): few individuals in the lagoons.

29. Arabian Spinecheek (Scolopsis ghanam): rather frequent in the lagoons.

Arabian spinecheek (Scolopsis ghanam)
Arabian spinecheek (Scolopsis ghanam)

30. Grey mullet sp. (Mugilidae): some individuals in the lagoons.

31. Red Sea Goatfish (Parupeneus forsskali): common species in the lagoons and in the reef.

32. Long-barbel Goatfish (Parupeneus macronema): few individuals in the reef.

Long-barbel goatfish (Parupeneus macronema)
Long-barbel goatfish (Parupeneus macronema)

33. Yellowsaddle Goatfish (Parupeneus cyclostomus): some individuals in the lagoons and in the reef.

Yellowsaddle goatfish (Parupeneus cyclostomus)
Yellowsaddle goatfish (Parupeneus cyclostomus)

34. Redspot Goatfish (Parupeneus heptacanthus): few individuals in a lagoon.

35.  Yellowstripe Goatfish (Mulloidichthys flavolineatus): some individuals in the reef.

36. Yellowfin Goatfish (Mulloidichthys vanicolensis): few shoals of hundreds of individuals in the reef.

Yellowfin goatfish (Mulloidichthys vanicolensis)
Yellowfin goatfish (Mulloidichthys vanicolensis)

37.  Blue Seachub (Kyphosus cinerascens): tens of individuals in the reef.

38. Bluecheeked Butterflyfish (Chaetodon semilarvatus): usually in pairs in the shady sides of the reef.

Bluecheeked Butterflyfish (Chaetodon semilarvatus)
Bluecheeked Butterflyfish (Chaetodon semilarvatus)

39. Diagonal Butterflyfish (Chaetodon fasciatus): frequent species in the lagoons in small numbers.

Diagonal Butterflyfish (Chaetodon fasciatus)
Diagonal Butterflyfish (Chaetodon fasciatus)

40. Blacktailed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon austriacus): a rather common species in the reef.

41. Blackback Butterflyfish (Chaetodon melannotus): few individuals in the reef.

42. Eritrean Butterflyfish (Chaetodon paucifasciatus): few individuals in the reef.

43. Threadfin Butterflyfish (Chaetodon auriga): probably the commonest butterflyfish in the lagoons.

Threadfin butterflyfish (Chaetodon auriga)
Threadfin butterflyfish (Chaetodon auriga)

44. Lined Butterflyfish (Chaetodon lineolatus): few individuals in the lagoons.

Lined butterflyfish (Chaetodon lineolatus)
Lined butterflyfish (Chaetodon lineolatus)

45. Chevron Butterflyfish (Chaetodon trifascialis): some individuals in the lagoons and in the reef.

46.  Red Sea Bannerfish (Heniochus intermedius): some individuals in the lagoons.

Red Sea Bannerfish (Heniochus intermedius)
Red Sea Bannerfish (Heniochus intermedius)

47. Royal Angelfish (Pygoplites diacanthus): rather frequent but in small numbers in the lagoons.

Royal Angelfish (Pygoplites diacanthus)
Royal Angelfish (Pygoplites diacanthus)

48. Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator): just a couple of individuals in the reef.

Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator)
Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator)

49.  Indo-Pacific Sergeant (Abudefduf vaigiensis): common species in the reef.

50.  Scissor-tailed Sergeant (Abudefduf sexfasciatus): very common species in the lagoons and in the reef.

51. Blackspot Sergeant (Abudefduf sordidus): few individuals in the lagoons.

52. Chocolatedipped Chromis (Chromis dimidiata): common species in the lagoons and in the reef.

53. Blue-green Chromis (Chromis viridis): very common species in the reef.

54. Arabian Chromis (Chromis flavaxilla): rather common in the reef.

55. Humbug Dascyllus (Dascyllus aruanus): locally abundant in the reef.

Humbug Dascyllus (Dascyllus aruanus)
Humbug Dascyllus (Dascyllus aruanus)

56. Onespot Demoiselle (Chrysiptera unimaculata): rather common in the lagoons.

Onespot Demoiselle (Chrysiptera unimaculata)
Onespot Demoiselle (Chrysiptera unimaculata)

57. Pale Damselfish (Amblyglyphidodon indicus): frequent in the reef.

58. White-spotted Devil (Plectroglyphidodon lacrymatus): few individuals in the lagoons.

59.  Sulphur Damsel (Pomacentrus sulfureus): rather common in the reef.

60. Paletail Damsel (Pomacentrus trichrourus): few individuals in the reef.

61. Dusky Farmerfish (Stegastes nigricans): quite common in the lagoons.

62.  Yellowbreasted Wrasse (Anampses twistii): few individuals in the reef.

Yellowbreasted Wrasse (Anampses twistii)
Yellowbreasted Wrasse (Anampses twistii)

63.  Lyretail Hogfish (Bodianus anthioides): some individuals in the lagoons.

Lyretail Hogfish (Bodianus anthioides)
Lyretail Hogfish (Bodianus anthioides)

64.  Broomtail Wrasse (Cheilinus lunulatus): a common species in the lagoons and in the reef.

65. White-barred Wrasse (Cheilinus quinquecinctus): few individuals in the reef.

66. Cigar Wrasse (Cheilio inermis): some individuals in the reef.

67. Clown Coris (Coris aygula): common in the lagoons and in the reef.

68. Sling-jaw Wrasse (Epibulus insidiator): some individuals in the reef.

69. Green Birdmouth Wrasse (Gomphosus caeruleus): rather common in the reef.

Green Birdmouth Wrasse (Gomphosus caeruleus)
Green Birdmouth Wrasse (Gomphosus caeruleus)

70. Checkerboard Wrasse (Halichoeres hortulanus): common species in the lagoons.

Checkerboard wrasse (Halichoeres hortulanus)
Checkerboard wrasse (Halichoeres hortulanus)

71. Dusky Wrasse (Halichoeres marginatus): few individuals in the reef.

72. Zigzag Wrasse (Halichoeres scapularis): few individuals in the lagoons.

73. Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus): few individuals in the reef.

74. Cheeklined wrasse (Oxycheilinus digrammus): few individuals in the reef.

75.  Chiseltooth Wrasse (Pseudodax moluccanus): some individuals in the reef.

Chiseltooth wrasse (Pseudodax moluccanus)
Chiseltooth wrasse (Pseudodax moluccanus)

76. Klunzinger’s Wrasse (Thalassoma rueppellii): common species in the lagoons.

77.  Viridescent Parrotfish (Calotomus viridescens): some individuals in the lagoons.

78. Bullethead Parrotfish (Chlorurus sordidus): few individuals in the reef.

79. Longnose Parrotfish (Hipposcarus harid): few individuals in the lagoons.

80. Rusty Parrotfish (Scarus ferrugineus): few individuals in the lagoons.

81. Bridled Parrotfish (Scarus frenatus): some individuals in the reef.

82.  Purple-brown Parrotfish (Scarus fuscopurpureus): few individuals in the lagoons.

83. Dusky Parrotfish (Scarus niger): the commonest parrotfish in the lagoons.

Dusky Parrotfish (Scarus niger)
Dusky Parrotfish (Scarus niger)

84.  Speckled Sandperch (Parapercis hexophtalma): common species in the sandy lagoons.

Speckled Sandperch (Parapercis hexophtalma)
Speckled Sandperch (Parapercis hexophtalma)

85. Blackline Fangblenny (Meiacanthus nigrolineatus): a couple of individuals observed in the reef.

86. Piano Fangblenny (Plagiotremus tapeinosoma): just one individual spotted in the reef the 15th of June.

Piano fangblenny (Plagiotremus tapeinosoma)
Piano fangblenny (Plagiotremus tapeinosoma)

87. Harlequin Prawn-goby (Cryptocentrus caeruleopunctatus): only one individual observed in a sandy lagoon the 11th June.

88. Longfin Batfish (Platax teira): few individuals under the pier.

Longfin batfish (Platax teira)
Longfin batfish (Platax teira)

89. Dusky Spinefoot (Siganus luridus): some individuals in the reef.

90.  Marbled Spinefoot (Siganus rivulatus): some tens of individuals in the reef.

91.  Sohal Surgeonfish (Acanthurus sohal): common species in the reef just below the surface of water.

Sohal surgeonfish (Acanthurus sohal)
Sohal surgeonfish (Acanthurus sohal)

92. Brown Surgeonfish (Acanthurus nigrofuscus): common species in the lagoons.

93. Striated Surgeonfish (Ctenochaetus striatus): frequent in the lagoons.

Striated Surgeonfish (Ctenochaetus striatus)
Striated Surgeonfish (Ctenochaetus striatus)

94. Yellowtailed Tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum): common in the lagoons.

95. Indian Sail-fin Surgeonfish (Zebrasoma desjardinii): very common species in the lagoons and in the reef, sometimes with spectacular shoals of hundreds of individuals.

96. Elegant Unicornfish (Naso elegans): rather frequent in the laggons and in the reef.

Elegant Unicornfish (Naso elegans)
Elegant Unicornfish (Naso elegans)

97. Bluespine Unicornfish (Naso unicornis): few individuals in the lagoons.

98. Great Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda): 1 large individual the 12th June 2017 near the pier.

99. Yellowtail Barracuda (Sphyraena flavicauda): a shoal in the reef the 16th June 2017.

100.  Leopard Flounder (Bothus pantherinus): a couple of individuals in the lagoons.

Leopard Flounder (Bothus pantherinus)
Leopard Flounder (Bothus pantherinus)

101.  Orange-lined Triggerfish (Balistapus undulatus): frequent species in the reef.

Orange-lined Triggerfish (Balistapus undulatus)
Orange-lined Triggerfish (Balistapus undulatus)

102. Picasso Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus assasi): common species in the lagoons.

Picasso triggerfish (Rhinecanthus assasi)
Picasso triggerfish (Rhinecanthus assasi)

103. Honeycomb Filefish (Cantherhines pardalis): few individuals in the lagoons.

Honeycomb Filefish (Cantherhines pardalis)
Honeycomb Filefish (Cantherhines pardalis)

104.  Scribbled Filefish (Aluterus scriptus): just and individual the 16th of June.

105.  Yellow Boxfish (Ostracion cubicus): few individuals in the reef.

106.  Bluetail Trunkfish (Ostracion cyanurus): rather frequent in the lagoons.

Bluetail trunkfish (Ostracion cyanurus)
Bluetail trunkfish (Ostracion cyanurus)

107.  White-spotted Puffer (Arothron hispidus): some individuals in the lagoons.

White-spotted puffer (Arothron hispidus)
White-spotted puffer (Arothron hispidus)

108.  Masked Puffer (Arothron diadematus): some individuals in the lagoons.

109. Pearl Toby (Canthigaster margaritata): some individuals in the lagoons.

110.  Common porcupinefish (Diodon hystrix): few individuals in the reef.

CARTILAGINOUS FISHES

1. Bluespotted Ribbontail Ray (Taeniura lymma): few individuals (1-4) daily in the reef in front of the resort.

MOLLUSCS

1. Burrowing giant clam (Tridacna maxima): the commonest species in the reef.

Burrowing giant clam (Tridacna maxima)
Burrowing giant clam (Tridacna maxima)

2. Squamose giant clam (Tridacna squamosa): few individuals in the sandy bottom of some lagoons.

Squamose giant clam (Tridacna squamosa)
Squamose giant clam (Tridacna squamosa)

INSECTS

1. Desert Bath White (Pontia glauconome): 1 individual the 14th June 2017 along the wadi.

My
Desert Bath White (Pontia glauconome)

Striped Hawk-moth (Hyles livornica): 1 individual in the resort the 16th June 2017.

Striped Hawk-moth (Hyles livornica)
Striped Hawk-moth (Hyles livornica)

Thistle Mantis (Blepharopsis mendica):  1 individual in the resort the 12th June 2017.

Thistle Mantis (Blepharopsis mendica)
Thistle Mantis (Blepharopsis mendica)

Luca Boscain

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