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Info needed on access for walking in Red Sea Hills

by TomJenner Online Now Apr 5, 2011 at 7:48 AM

In May I will be heading to the Red Sea Hills near Port Sudan to search for a species of swallow that may or may not be extinct. In 1984 an orthithologist found a dead swallow at Sanganeb lighthouse near Port Sudan which turned out to be a new species for science - the Red Sea Swallow. It had never been seen before and has never been seen since and nobody knows exactly where to look. One hypothesis is that it had migrated across the sea from Jaddah. The other main hypothesis is that it is found in the hills along the southern edge of the Red Sea in Sudan. This lack of information on where to look, plus the travel difficulties associated with expeditions to Sudan, may explain why it has not been properly looked for. It remains one of the great enigmas of ornithology.
I will be heading there with my brother, who is visiting from the UK, to try and look for this bird. It is a species of cliff swallow, so will probably be associated with hills like its relatives. My aim is to scour as much of the area as possible looking for breeding birds. I know it will be horrible weather, but these birds are probably migratory and will not be around now. The only site I have at the moment is the area around Erkowit. I would also like to try some of the higher areas to the north-west, but I have no information at all about the area, whether there is access or whether there will be limitations on travel. On the map there is a road that circles up to the top of the highest peak, but experience tells me it will probably go up to a radar station guarded by lots of men with big guns that don't like foreigners with big cameras.
Any advice or suggestions would be very welcome.
Thanks

Tom

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