|Central coordinates||32o 20.00' East 29o 35.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A3, A4iv|
|Altitude||0 - 1,274m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information See Box and Table 2 for key species. Ain Sukhna is situated along a major flyway for Palearctic migrant birds. Large birds of prey (passive flyers) concentrate in significant numbers, particularly in spring. Most prominent of these are Milvus migrans, Buteo buteo, Aquila nipalensis, Aquila pomarina, Hieraaetus pennatus and Neophron percnopterus. Although no systematic counts have been carried out at Ain Sukhna, numerous single-day counts indicate that well over 100,000 large birds of prey and storks may pass through the area every year. Most birds congregate on the north-eastern ridges of Gebel El Galala El Bahariya to gain altitude before gliding north across flat country. Many birds are attracted to the springs of Ain Sukhna, particularly during the hotter part of the migration season, and fairly large numbers descend to drink and roost in the vicinity. A significant passage of Grus grus is also known from the area. These birds regularly roost in large numbers on the wide coastal plain.The desert habitats of the area support a good diversity of characteristic Sahara–Sindian species. Small numbers of Larus leucophthalmus are regularly seen offshore in the Gulf of Suez, particularly in winter. Other prominent waterbirds include Larus genei, Larus fuscus and Larus cachinnans, all of which are migrants or winter visitors.
Site description Ain Sukhna is a warm, brackish spring located about 50 km south of Suez at the north-eastern foot of Gebel El Galala El Bahariya, overlooking the Gulf of Suez. The name, however, has traditionally been used in reference to a much larger region, roughly encompassing the wide coastal plain wedged between Gebel Ataqa in the north and Gebel El Galala El Bahariya in the south, and including the coastal portion of the latter mountain range. In the immediate vicinity of the spring there is a dense growth of salt-tolerant vegetation, composed primarily of Juncus, Tamarix and Nitraria. To the north and west there is a large sand-and-gravel plain, intersected by several large, shallow wadis with good vegetation cover, dominated by Hammada and Zilla, with numerous, scattered trees and bushes of Acacia, Tamarix and Calotropis. Gebel El Galala El Bahariya rises abruptly from the shallow waters of the Gulf of Suez, up to 1,274 m. Several small springs and oases are found in the deep wadis that drain the steep coastal (eastern) flanks of the mountain.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Sand Partridge Ammoperdix heyi||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|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||-||uncommon [units unknown]||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Pharaoh Eagle-owl Bubo ascalaphus||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Pale Crag-martin Hirundo obsoleta||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Greater Hoopoe-lark Alaemon alaudipes||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Streaked Scrub-warbler Scotocerca inquieta||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|White-tailed Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Hooded Wheatear Oenanthe monacha||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|A4iv Species group - soaring birds/cranes||passage||1980-1984||100,000 individuals||medium||A4iv|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
Management considerations Oil pollution is perhaps the most serious threat to migrating birds in this area. The Ain Sukhna oil terminal (an offloading and storage facility located in the heart of this site), often causes minor spills in the Gulf of Suez. Oil from the storage facility has also been released onshore on several occasions and has contaminated freshwater pools where birds of prey and other species regularly come to drink and bathe. High-tension powerlines have been erected in the area for some time. Their impact on birds is not well known, but does not appear to be a threat. There are concerns about the construction of new powerlines and other tall structures, depending upon the location. A large cement factory located some 30 km to the north-west of Ain Sukhna has been active for a number of years now and spews out tonnes of dust every day, killing all desert vegetation within a radius of 15 km around the facility. During north-westerly winds (the prevailing wind in the region) visibility at Ain Sukhna deteriorates drastically. The impact of this on the migration of soaring birds is not known. Fast-growing tourist developments, overgrazing, misuse of off-road vehicles, land reclamation, unregulated quarrying and solid-waste dumping are all causing rapid degradation of the natural habitats of the region.In 1998 a massive development project was launched at Ain Sukhna to establish a shipping port, an airport and a heavy industry zone. The port is nearing completion and a number of factories have been constructed and are operating. This project could jeopardize migratory birds concentrating in this area, if special attention is not paid to ensure that no developments harmful to birds and other wildlife are established. The airport component would pose an exceptionally high risk to both birds and aircraft operating in the airspace over the region. Waste-water and solid waste could attract birds and likewise pose a risk. Careful impact assessment of all development activity in this region is a top priority.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ain Sukhna. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/06/2013
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