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Location Egypt, Suez
Central coordinates 32o 20.00' East  29o 35.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4iv
Area 15,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 1,274m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Nature Conservation Eqypt (Affiliate)



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.

Key Biodiversity 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.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Sand Partridge Ammoperdix heyi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni passage  1998  uncommon  A1  Least Concern 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga passage  1998  uncommon  A1  Vulnerable 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca passage  1998  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus passage  1998  uncommon  A1  Near Threatened 
White-eyed Gull Larus leucophthalmus non-breeding  1998  min 100 individuals  poor  A1  Near Threatened 
Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pharaoh Eagle-owl Bubo ascalaphus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pale Crag-martin Hirundo obsoleta resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Greater Hoopoe-lark Alaemon alaudipes resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Streaked Scrub-warbler Scotocerca inquieta resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-tailed Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Hooded Wheatear Oenanthe monacha resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
A4iv Species group - soaring birds/cranes passage  1980-1984  100,000 individuals  medium  A4iv   

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
tourism/recreation -
urban/industrial/transport -

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ain Sukhna. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/11/2014

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