Bird watching is a peaceful, soul-soothing natural experience, especially in Egypt, an important stopover on the migratory route of many feathered friends. Grab your binoculars and join Mohamed El-Hebeishy as he sets off for a closer look at some of Egypt's finest visitors.
According to BirdLife International, Egypt enjoys 34 different IBAs, or rather Important Birds Area. Some, like Lake Qarun, Lake Nasser and Zaranik (in North Sinai) are reputedly famous for bird watching, with hordes of hungry watchers flocking these areas especially during migration season (spring and autumn). On the other hand, other areas like Nabq and Gabel Elba come as a new virgin haven for bird-watchers, hitting high on birds watching chart.
Nabq, located in South Sinai just 25km northward from Sharm El-Sheikh, was declared a natural protectorate in 1992, with Mangrove conservation as the primary objective. One of Mangrove several vitalities to its surrounding eco-system, is that it acts as a natural nesting and resting site for breeding as well as migratory birds. Having the largest Mangrove thicket in Egypt, Nabq automatically guarantees you a unique selection of birds, not possible to be seen congregated in the same place elsewhere.
Unveiling Nabq's bouquet of birds, we encounter a variety of sky navigators; starring, Osprey Pandion haliaetus which is considered one of the best ever fishing raptors; Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis (above photograph) though similar to the Little Egret Egretta garzetta in size, it is characterised by two plumage colour forms, an all-white morph and a dark grey one; with possibility of intermediates occurring. Last but not least, the gracefully looking white-eyed Gull Larus leucophthalmus; according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the White-eyed Gull is categorised as NT (Near Threatened), with a reserved place in Egypt Red List for threatened species. It is an endemic inhabitant to the Red Sea area with the largest known breeding population estimated in Egypt.
Indeed Egypt is a gold mine for any bird watcher with a variety of so many places that have already been frequently visited, and much more waiting to be discovered.