|Location||Egypt, Kafr El Sheikh|
|Central coordinates||30o 50.00' East 31o 29.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i, A4iii|
|Altitude||0 - 10m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information See Box for key species. Burullus is one of Egypt’s most important wetland for wintering waterfowl, holding a total of 98,887 in winter 1989/90, the second-largest concentration recorded in Egypt that winter. The lake supports the largest numbers of some wintering waterfowl in the country, including Anas penelope, Anas clypeata, Aythya nyroca, Aythya ferina, Fulica atra and Tringa totanus. Burullus is one of the most important wintering grounds for Aythya nyroca in the eastern Mediterranean. Because of its relative isolation, Burullus is also an important breeding site for several waterbirds and wetland species. About 35 species of birds are known to breed, of which the most prominent are Tachybaptus ruficollis, Ixobrychus minutus, Porphyrio porphyrio, Sterna albifrons, Charadrius alexandrinus, Vanellus spinosus, Glareola pratincola, Caprimulgus aegyptius, Ceryle rudis, Centropus senegalensis and Acrocephalus stentoreus. The endemic delta subspecies of Calandrella rufescens (Calandrella rufescens nicolli) probably has its largest population in the vicinity of Burullus.
Site description The Protected Area is composed primarily of Lake Burullus, a large, shallow, fresh-to-brackish coastal lagoon located between the two Nile branches forming the delta. It is elongate in shape extending for c.54 km from east to west with a width of 6–21 km and an estimated average depth of 75–100 cm. The lake is separated from the sea by a broad, dune-covered sandbar, which varies in width from a few hundred meters in the east to 5 km in the west. There are some 50 islands scattered throughout the lake with a total area of 0.7 km². On average, 50–70 million m³ of slightly saline, nutrient-rich water enters the lake annually from the south via six drains. Bughaz El Burullus, located in the north-east corner of the lake, is the only direct connection between Burullus and the Mediterranean. Salinity in the lake decreases towards the south and west as the distance from the Bughaz increases, becoming fresh near the outflows of drains and canals that flow into the lake from the south. Consequently, the north shores of the lake are dominated by saltmarshes and mudflats, while the southern shore is bordered by an extensive fringe of reed-swamps (mainly Phragmites and Typha), which currently covers more than 25% of the lake area. Lake Burullus has abundant submerged vegetation, dominated by Potamogeton, which is densest in the southern portion of the lake. Burullus is by far the least disturbed and damaged of the delta wetlands and its environs still retain some aspects of wilderness, which have been lost throughout most of the delta.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope||winter||-||24,997 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata||winter||-||15,427 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca||winter||-||common [units unknown]||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio||breeding||-||500 breeding pairs||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta||winter||-||2,949 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Common Redshank Tringa totanus||winter||-||3,378 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola||breeding||-||2,000 breeding pairs||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Little Gull Larus minutus||winter||-||3,906 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Little Tern Sterna albifrons||breeding||-||600-800 breeding pairs||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida||winter||-||3,530 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius||breeding||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|A4iii Species group - waterbirds||winter||-||-||unknown||A4iii|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Lake Burullus||Protected Area||46,000||is identical to site||46,000|
|Lake Burullus||Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar)||46,200||protected area contains site||46,000|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||-|
Other biodiversity Reptiles: the Mediterranean shore of the lake is a potential breeding site for endangered marine turtles—Caretta caretta (EN) is known to breed locally. Mammals: Felis chaus is known to occur in numbers.
Management considerations Burullus is protected by Prime Ministerial Decree 1444/1998 and is a Ramsar Site. There is an ongoing GEF–MedWet–EEAA project to develop the management and infrastructure of the Protected Area. Burullus covered 588 km² in 1913. An estimated 37% of the open-water area and 85% of the marsh area have been lost during the past 40 years, largely as a result of ongoing drainage and reclamation of the lake’s eastern, western and southern margins, and also due to the proliferation of emergent and submerged vegetation. It is anticipated that Burullus, along with other coastal delta wetlands, will be further reduced in area as a result of landward migration of coastal sandbars. This is a consequence of severe coastal erosion, from which the northern coast of the delta has suffered since the closure of the High Dam in 1964, and the subsequent impoundment of over 98% of the Nile sediment behind it.Despite being the least polluted of the northern delta lakes, increasing quantities of agricultural drainage-water with heavy fertilizer and pesticide loads are being released into Burullus, contributing significantly to the eutrophication and pollution of the lake. Local fishermen complain that the combination of occasional siltation and closure of the Bughaz and increased drainage-water leads to the reduction of the salinity of the lake and the expansion of reed-swamps and reduces fishing opportunities. The large number of fishermen on the lake cause continuous disturbance to waterbirds, forcing them to utilize less optimal habitats or sites.Waterbird-catching is widely practised on the lake in winter. Quail nets, shotguns and lime are used along the sandbar to catch thousands of migrants in the autumn. A coastal highway running along the entire northern coast of the delta, designed to link the Egyptian Mediterranean coastal regions west and east of the delta, is near completion. The highway, which runs through the sandbar north of Lake Burullus, has dramatically increased accessibility and hence, coastal development pressures on this, the last wilderness of the delta.
References Baha el Din (1991), Meininger and Atta (1994), Stanley and Warne (1993), van Pelt et al. (1992).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Burullus Protected Area. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/05/2013
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