|Central coordinates||32o 33.00' East 29o 58.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4iv|
|Altitude||0 - 800m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information See Box for key species. Because of its unique position on the only land-bridge between Eurasia and Africa, the Isthmus of Suez is one of the most important bottlenecks in the world for migrating soaring birds, particularly birds of prey. Maxima of 134,000 and 125,000 birds of prey were counted in autumn 1981 and spring 1982 respectively. The commonest birds of prey recorded on passage at Suez are Aquila nipalensis, Buteo buteo, Aquila pomarina and Circaetus gallicus. Ciconia ciconia, Ciconia nigra, Pelecanus onocrotalus and Grus grus also occur regularly in large numbers on migration. Although most soaring birds pass over Suez at fairly high altitudes without stopping, large numbers occasionally roost in the vicinity of the city or land to drink and feed en route, particularly during the hotter parts of the migration seasons. This can expose large numbers of some species to serious dangers. Suez also falls on an important migration flyway for many waterbirds, and is still of importance for some wintering waders, which utilize the shrinking mudflats of the Bay of Suez.
Site description The city of Suez is located at the head of the Gulf of Suez, the northernmost point of the Red Sea. It overlooks the southern entrance to the Suez Canal and the Bay of Suez to the east and south-east. To the south-west a wide plain separates the city from Gebel Ataqa (871 m) and the Isthmic Desert plains lie to the north-east. A freshwater canal and a narrow band of cultivated land extend along the western bank of the Suez Canal and reach the northern suburbs of the city. The Bay of Suez once had some of the largest and richest intertidal mudflats in the Egyptian Red Sea; today only small fragments remain. Suez has a busy port and a growing number of industries consisting, primarily, of petrochemical and fertilizer factories. The human population of Suez numbers around 250,000.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni||passage||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Least Concern|
|Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus||passage||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga||passage||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca||passage||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|White-eyed Gull Larus leucophthalmus||winter||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|A4iv Species group - soaring birds/cranes||passage||1981-1982||125,000-134,000 individuals||good||A4iv|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
Management considerations Many of the activities and structures present in the bustling industrial city of Suez pose a real and serious threat to the hundreds of thousands of birds that pass over, or through, the region. For this reason special attention should be given to future developments in the Suez region and to evaluating their potential impact on migrating birds in this, one of the world’s most important migration bottlenecks.Suez suffers from severe pollution problems. Perhaps the most serious is oil pollution, a chronic problem in the Bay of Suez originating from both onshore and offshore sources. Other water-pollution problems include improper dumping of chemical waste (from petrochemical and fertilizer factories) and pesticides into exposed canals. Because, invariably, thousands of migrating birds descend to rest and drink at Suez, water-borne pollution will, potentially, affect vast numbers of waterbirds, as well as birds of prey. Sick, oiled and dying birds of prey are not unusual sights at Suez during the migration seasons.The newly established sewage-treatment facility at Suez provides an illustrative example of how even small design oversights can pose a major risk to migrating birds. Because sludge-drying lagoons in the new facility were built with vertical (not sloping) sides, birds attempting to drink from the lagoons fall into the sludge and drown. It is estimated that hundreds of birds of prey succumb to this trap every year.Much of the natural habitat in the vicinity of the city has vanished in recent years. Over 50% of the mudflats in the Bay of Suez have been filled and claimed for the purpose of urban expansion. Reed-swamps, formerly found to the north of the city, have been drained and built on. Although hunting is not widespread, the potential damage done by a single hunter could be enormous.High-tension powerlines are numerous in the Suez region and pose a serious threat to flying birds. An exceptionally hazardous powerline was erected in 1998, suspended about 250 m over the Suez Canal some 15 km north of Suez. This powerline stands immediately in the flight path of the majority of soaring migrants concentrated at Suez, and could have a devastating impact on these birds, especially during unusual weather conditions, such as sand-storms, which occur in the spring.
References Bijlsma (1983), Wimpfheimer et al. (1983).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Suez. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/05/2013
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