Al-Ahram Weekly Online   4 - 10 November 2010
Issue No. 1022
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Snap shot

By Mohamed El-Hebeishy

EGYPT is located on a major bird migration corridor between Africa and Europe. Thousands upon thousands of birds make this trip back and forth between the two continents twice a year, and mostly stop in Egypt for a respite, writes Mohamed El-Hebeishy. In addition to migrating ones, a plethora of different bird species call Egypt home. Several areas are known as bird watching sites that teem with both migratory as well as resident species.

The list includes, among others, Aswan which is quite famous for cormorants, moorhens, and ibises. Further south is Egypt's last wildlife stronghold -- Lake Nasser. Here you can spot entire flocks of pelicans, flamencos, as well as the famous colourful Egyptian goose.

The Red Sea coast also offers plenty of bird watching hotspots, including the famous Ras Mohamed National Park near Sharm El-Sheikh, and the pristine Hamata Archipelago which is part of Wadi Al-Gemal -- Hamata National Park. Terns, gulls, spoonbills, and ospreys would be the highlight of your bird watching experience along the Red Sea coast.

Further north, along the Mediterranean coast, several wetlands around the lakes of Burullus, Manzala and Bardawil are all great sites for bird watching, especially if you have a particular interest in plovers and herons.

Aswan is most famous for its scenic views of subtle grey boulders rising in the midst of the vivid blue Nile, as well as soothing felucca sails against the sunset sky. Feluccas are your best bet for bird watching in this sleepy town. Hire an experienced sailor with a good boat for a couple of hours, and ask for a tour of the Nile to include the islands of Saluga and Ghazal.

Declared natural protectorates in 1986, the two lush river islands are void of humans but packed with birds. In addition to the flock of cormorants pictured here, I spotted many other species like purple gallinule, glossy ibis, grey heron and purple heron. It is an overdose of bird watching that will set you off on a photographing frenzy; just make sure your camera batteries are charged to the full.

photo: Mohamed El-Hebeishy

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