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Arab Republic of Egypt

Pharaoh Eagle-owl Bubo ascalaphus ©Steve Arlow Website

Birding Egypt

Egypt is situated at the juncture of Africa and Asia. Due to its unique location, it is considered part of North Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin and shares much in the way of history, culture and nature with all of these three geographic realms. Considered a developing nation, Egypt is one of the most advanced and politically stable countries on the African continent. With a population of over 65 million, Egypt is the largest country in the Arab world. The majority are Moslem, but around 15% are Coptic [Christians]. Most of the population is confined to the Nile Valley and Delta, with the deserts having some of the lowest population densities in the world. Cairo is Egypt's capital and one of the world's largest cities with some 17 million inhabitants. A land of contrasts, traditional cultures are juxtaposed with modern communities and technology.

Egypt is best known for its antiquities. The country possesses a wealth of prehistoric, Pharonic, Greek, Roman, Christian and Islamic sites. One can encounter antiquities almost anywhere, but the most visited sites are those in Cairo and Upper Egypt. The Pharonic sites are truly extraordinary and have marvelled travellers since ancient times. However, the country is also blessed with a wide range of habitats each with its own unique plant and animal life. Egypt's natural heritage is as rich as her cultural heritage. Egypt is blessed with a wide range of habitats each with its own unique plant and animal life. There are substantial marine and coastal resources (Mediterranean, Red Sea); vast desert wilderness (Western Desert, Eastern Desert, the Sinai); expansive wetlands (Nile River, lakes) and fertile agricultural lands.

As for birds, over 470 species have been recorded. Two-thirds of these are migrants, only one third are resident and found in Egypt year round. Resident birds of interest are Shaharo-Sindian species, African species not found elsewhere in the Western Palaearctic and Red Sea birds. As the only land bridge between Europe and Asia, Egypt is situated on major migration routes, particularly for soaring birds. Egyptian wetlands are internationally important wintering grounds for water birds. Some African species, such as Sooty Falcon come north to breed in Egypt during the summer months. Birding in Egypt is good throughout the year; in a two week period between 160 to over 200 species can be expected. Target species and weather tend to be the main considerations in deciding when to come. The spring and autumn migration are the best times to see the greatest numbers and diversity of birds and the weather tends to be warm. Summer is very hot, but is a good season to see residents and Red Sea and Abu Simbel specialties. During winter the Nile and associated wetlands teem with wintering water birds and the weather is warm to cold depending upon where you are in the country.

The average trip to Egypt is 10 days to two weeks; most people combine birding with history. Fortunately, the major antiquities tend to be good locations for birding. The standard organised itinerary includes Cairo (Pyramids and Sphinx, Egyptian Museum) and African residents (Painted Snipe, Senegal Coucal); Hurghada (sun and beach) and Red Sea birds (White-eyed Gull, White-cheeked Tern); Luxor (Karnak Temple, the tombs of Kings and Queens) and Upper Egypt resident (Nile Valley Sunbird): Aswan (Temple of Philae) and herons (Green-backed Heron); Abu Simbel (Ramsis Temple) and African summer visitors (Yellow-billed Stork, Pink-backed Pelican); and the Sinai (St Katherine Monastery, spectacular coral reefs) and specialties found no where in the country (Sinai Rosefinch, Palestine Sunbird). Egypt has a fledgling nature tourism industry. The largest sector is Red Sea diving, followed by desert safari tours and trekking in the high altitude mountains of South Sinai. In Egypt there is little by way of eco-lodges, camping grounds or other eco-tourism facilities. There are 21 Protected Areas scattered around the country, many of which are good locations to see birds.

Egypt offers visitors much more to see and do, such as photography, shopping and relaxing on the beach. There is something for everyone so it is an ideal place for a family vacation or for couples where one individual is a non-birder. With an advanced tourism infrastructure and some of the most affordable prices in the Mediterranean, Egypt is a popular tourist destination. Hotels of all standards and prices can be found. A wide variety of food is served from oriental specialties to international cuisine, including fast food chains like McDonald's. (As a fairly liberal Moslem country, beer and wine is widely sold). There are all kinds of transportation between major cities(bus, train, plane and ferry). Although car hire is available, driving in Egypt is very challenging so chauffeured driven vehicles and other transport is recommended. One of the nicest ways to see Upper Egypt is by Nile Cruise. What makes Egypt special are the people. Egyptians are among the world's friendliest people, always wanting to help and chat with foreigners. While Arabic is the national language, in tourist areas a wide variety of languages are spoken. Most know some English, which is commonly used on signs. Egypt is an extremely safe country to travel; there is very little crime. Security has been tight since the terrorist problems in the 90s.

Visitors to Egypt do not have to worry about malaria, yellow-fever and other tropical diseases. The most common maladies are stomach ailments (Pharaoh's revenge). Foreigners are advised to take the necessary precautions regarding what and where they eat and drink. Heat also has been known to take a toll on visitors so one should drink lots of water, wear a hat and apply plenty of sunscreen. Egypt has few local birders or companies geared to birding tourism. At present there is only one reliable local bird tour operator organizing tours for independent travellers and companies. A number of UK based birding tour companies offer trips to Egypt. While travelling on your own in Egypt is easy and safe, tours tend to be a much more convenient way to travel.

Contributor

(The Late) Mindy Baha El Din

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 498

As of July 2018

Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East

(An Annotated Checklist) | By Dominic Mitchell | Lynx Edicions | 2017 | Hardback | 335 pages, 1 b/w illustration, 1 b/w map |

ISBN: 9788494189296

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East

(A Photographic Guide) | By Frédéric Jiguet & Aurélien Audevard | Princeton University Press | 2017 | Paperback | 447 pages, 2200 colour photos, colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9780691172439

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Common Birds of Egypt

By Bertel Bruun & Sherif Baha El Din | The American University in Cairo Press | 1994 | Paperback | 52 pages, Colour illustrations |

ISBN: 9774242394

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Finding Birds in Egypt

By Dave Gosney | Easybirder | 2011 | Paperback | 26 pages, b/w maps |

ISBN: 1898110034

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Pharaohs' Birds

( A Guide to Ancient and Present-Day Birds in Egypt) | By John Miles | Miles and Miles of Countryside | 1998 | Papeback | 210 pages, 60 col plates, colour illustrations, maps |

ISBN: 9774244907

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Birds of Ancient Egypt

by Patrick F Houlihan | Aris & Phillips | 1986 | Paperback | 191 pages, 199 b/w photos & figs |

ISBN: 0856682837

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Breeding Birds of The Northern Red Sea Islands

By Andrew Grieve & Linda Millington | Ornithological Society of the Middle East | 1999 | Spiralbounbd | 21 pages, b/w illustrations, tabs.

ISBN: #141743

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Directory of Important Bird Areas in Egypt.

By Sherif Baha El Din | The Palm Press | 1999 | Paperback |

ISBN: 9775089255

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

African Bird Club

Website

With a good tourist infrastructure and many historical sites to visit, Egypt is a popular destination. Luckily for birdwatchers, tourist destinations such as the Pyramids, the Red Sea and the Upper Nile coincide with important locations for birdwatching. Its strategic position with a land bridge and short sea crossings between Africa and Asia ensures that Egypt is an important country for migrants and wintering species.

Nature Conservation Egypt [Birdlife Partner]

Website

Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE) is a non-government organization that is dedicated to the conservation of Egypt's natural heritage and the promotion of it's sustainable use for the benefit of the present and future generations. NCE also seeks to build partnerships with local and international bodies with similar interests. It achieves these aims through demonstration of practical conservation measures, awareness raising activities, studies and lobbying. For more information, contact us on: info@ncegypt.org

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

IBAs

Website

The Nile supports most of the country's wetlands which are some of Egypt's most important habitats supporting the greatest diversity and density of bird species. The major inland wetland areas are as follows: the Bitter Lakes; Wadi El Natrun; Lake Qarun; Wadi El Rayan Lakes and Nile river and Lake Nasser. There are six major coastal lagoons on the Mediterranean: Bardawil; Malaha; Manzala; Burullus; Idku and Maryut. The Red Sea coastal habitats and wetlands include mudflats, reefs, mangroves and marine islands. Oases are the only source of water over much of the western desert, the principal ones being Maghra, Siwa, Wadi El Rayan, Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhla, Kharga, Kurkur and Dungul…

National Parks in Egypt

Information

To date, 28 protectorates have been declared, ranging from coastal, wetlands, geological and coastal protectorates.

NP Ras Muhammad

Information

Satellite View

A national park in Egypt at the southern extreme of the Sinai Peninsula, overlooking the Gulf of Suez on the west and the Gulf of Aqaba to the east.

NR Al Ahrash

Information

PA Zaranik

Information

Satellite View

Some 270 bird species have been reported in Zaranik. Only 10 species are known to breed in the Protected Area, of which Sterna albifrons and Charadrius alexandrinus are the most numerous and prominent. Zaranik is also the only locality in Egypt where Recurvirostra avosetta is known to breed on a regular basis (five pairs in summer 1994), and large numbers also winter (up to 700, December 1998).

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Memphis Tours

Tour Operator

A wonderful exclusive tour for ‘Bird Watchers’ on this 3 hour Bird Watching Tour in Aswan with Mr Mohamed Arabi known as the Birdman of Aswan. Take a scenic ride in a felucca around the Cataract Islands to see up to many species of local birds and pretty flora and fauna in a most delightful environment.

True Dream Egypt

Tour Operator

We are tour operators in Egypt specialized in The Woman Tours, Protected Areas' Tours, Birds Watching Tours, bible tours, disabled (handicap) Tours, felucca tours, Golf tours and Diving Adventures’ Tours.

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2008 [12 December] - Eric Barnes

Report

…We opted to climb after the main tourist ‘day trippers’ and set off just after dawn. The bulbuls were seen at the Guest House, as were the common European passerines. Tristrams Grackle was first seen on the side of the monastery and feeding around the first Bedouin camp. The Beduoin camp/refreshment shops above Elijah’s Basin even at mid day had Grackle , Rosefinch , Desert Lark and Scrub Warbler…

2010 [12 December] - Graeme Wright - Aswan

Report

The back of the Movenpick faces the Botanical Garden on Kitchener’s Island and there are notable flows of birds past the hotel in the morning (must be great on passage). Although there is considerable building work going on at the moment, as the hotel extends, there are benches facing the river that over look a small beach and some Papyrus Reeds and from there you can see almost everything the island has to offer. I think this beach will probably survive the redevelopment so all should be well…

2010 [12 December] - Jan Landsverk - Sinai

Report

Many of the Landsverk family (11 people) went to Sharm el Sheikh on holiday December 2010. We paid for the flight ticket and booked apartments ourselves found on Internet. We stayed at Delta Sharm between Naama Bay and Sharm el Sheikh. It was a perfect place in many respects and rather close to the probably best place in Sinai to watch birds - a sewage work (several sewage dams a few km north of Delta Sharm). A former sewage work is found only a ten minutes walk from where we lived. Two of my sons – Erlen and Aleksander - and myself had hoped to get away from the others and spend a few hours some mornings to watch birds at these places….

2011 [02 February] - Scott Bowers - Egypt & Ethiopia

Report

This trip report covers a one month journey to Egypt and Ethiopia with a couple of short layovers in London. Some highlights of the trip included the Ethiopian Wolf and escaping the Egyptian Revolution…

2011 [03 March] - John Miles

Report

The idea of the holiday was to use a cruise boat on the Nile to cover as many birding locations along the river and at the Ancient Monuments. A bus was used to ferry guests to and from the boat to the Ancient locations while taxis were used when only using a bird location. A local ferry was used at Aswan along with a Felucca, the ancient sailing boat to reach Kitchener’s Island…

2012 [12 December] - Derek Charlton - Sharm el Sheikh

Report

…The following day we visited another protected area, Nabq. Several Western Reef Egrets and Sooty Gulls were present along the coast here, along with Kingfishers, Great Grey Shrike, Pallid Harrier and a Desert Warbler - which took an age to give itself up. This area seemed to be a hot-spot for Mourning Wheatears with four noted, often perched on the Bedouin's huts along the access track, a Desert Wheatear was also present…

2013 [01 January] - Kari Haataja

PDF Report

…We met a moment later local bird guide Abdo Yousef Taha whom we told about the bird to. He replied that Arctic Warbler has been on those trees earlier this winter. It probably holds its winter territory on the site….

2013 [02 February] - John Bowler

Report

…Although not exclusively a birding trip we saw some 74 species and had great views of most target birds: Sinai Rosefinch, Tristram’s Grackle, White-eyed Gull, Armenian Gull, Sand Partridge, Crowned Sandgrouse, Rock Martin, Hooded Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Bar-tailed Lark, Desert Lark, White-spectacled Bulbul, Palestine Sunbird and Scrub Warbler, plus bonus Olive-backed Pipit, River Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Arabian Warbler and Pallas’s Gull. Birds missed included Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse, Mourning Wheatear, Sooty Gull and House Crow…

2013 [03 March] - Robert Wemyss

Report

…There were very few private cars around the resort probably due to the tight security in the Sinai at the time of the visit. However, the resort facilities and most of the points of birding interest can be accessed on foot and a free and regular shuttle bus made travel around the resort relatively easy especially in hot weather…

2013 [05 May] - Bob Swann

Report

…here were a few migrants about, these included a Masked Shrike, a Golden Oriole, Yellow Wagtail, whilst overhead we had a few European Bee-eaters and a Little Swift heading north. Returned to the camp for breakfast, getting good views of a Wryneck and a hunting ringtail Montagu’s Harrier. After breakfast the tide had dropped enough for us to walk round and into the mangroves, but apart from two pairs of nesting Ospreys and a Marsh Harrier, we located little new….

2013 [05 May] - Olof Jönsson

Report

…Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse: Two near Sandafa at 28.502229°, 30.610262° on 29th April. We left Cairo after 7AM together with Daniel Mauras, Mary Megalli and our guides Abdulla Ali and Mohammed from Thebes Tours (a.abdulla@thebestours.net). We had no problems driving down to Sandafa, the road is good….

2013 [12 December] - Graeme Pegram - Sharm El Sheikh

Report

Early start and a look at our new local patch. There were plenty of hotel gardens but also lots of waste ground where derelict or unfinished hotels stood. My first bird was a House Sparrow and Ken's a Pallid Swift! Bluethroat, Cattle Egret, Common Crane, Richard's Pipit, Pale Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Rock Dove (Ferel?), Sardinian Warbler, African Collared Dove, Hooded Crow, Chiffchaff, Wood Warbler, Kestrel, Stonechat, Grey Heron, Booted Eagle (pale phase), House Crow, Hoopoe, Wigeon. By 10:30 it was too hot for birding, so we spent the rest of the day at the hotel and organizing a car…

2016 [03 March] - Michael Southcott - Hurghada

Report

The morning of the 19th, before breakfast was a walk from the hotel to the lagoon this was c.2km open stretch of beach with a small fishing village right next to a Army base, we were warned here by one of the fishermen to be careful with the camera's .. Of note Caspian Tern, Slender-billed Gull, Kentish & Grey Plover and Northern Wheatear.

2016 [05 May] - Bob Swann

PDF Report

...We then started our long journey heading north up the Red Sea coast road to Ras Gharbh. Enroute a couple of Steppe Buzzards, Black Kite and a group of 16 migrating Great White Pelicans. At Ras Garbh turned west to cross the desert. Very birdless apart from occasional Brown-necked Ravens and a single Hoopoe Lark. We eventually arrived in the Nile Valley near Beni Mazar and started seeing lots of birds. We crossed the Nile over a new bridge at Beni Mazar and on the west side stopped at a roadside ‘café’ for some lunch. In the adjacent canal a single bush contained a large colony of Cattle Egret, with a few Little Egret. Along the canal – Moorhen, WhiteBreasted Kingfisher, Hoopoe, lots of House Sparrows, whilst Common Kestrel hunted over the adjacent fields...

2016 [10 October] - Ray O'Reilly - El Gouna, Red Sea

PDF Report

...El Gouna is a resort around 24 Kilometres, North of Hurghada on the Red Sea and is an oasis in a surrounding desert. It is South-west of Ras Muhammad on the main part of Egypt and not on the Sinai Peninsula. It looks ideally placed for migrant birds and one rarely needs to leave the resort...

2017 [03 March] - Stefan Stürup - Hurghada

PDF Report

This report covers the bird sightings made during a week’s family vacation in Hurghada with a non-birding wife and little time was spend birding. This report just to show, that it is still possible to see some interesting and nice birds in the Hurghada area...

2017 [05 May] - Erik Forsyth & Cuan Rush - Egypt & Petra

PDF Report

...An early start birding around our hotel produced scope looks at a Chukar Partridge posing on a rock and a confiding pair of Palestine Sunbird in the garden. After breakfast we headed for the city of Petra. Petra in Jordan is one of the world’s most remarkable antiquities and regarded as the most astounding ancient c ity left in the modern world...

2017 [09 September] - Martin Pitt - Luxor & the Nile

PDF Report

This was another trip that was focused as a family holiday and for the first time we stayed put in single location.

2017 [09 September] - Valentin Moswer - Marsa Alam, Red Sea coast

PDF Report

We did a desert sunrise quad tour with Oscar safari (Has his stand outside the Three Corners Sea Beach resort). This turned out to be great birding! The best places anywhere in the desert are the isolated trees, often with 4+ species in a small tree. Our guide, Emil (make sure you get him) quickly got what I wanted and stopped at every tree and pointing out birds in general. He took us to a great little wadi full with desert larks (besides the usual migrants). Best of the quad tour however was a little group of Sand Partridge at the spot where we watched the sunrise.

2018 [04 April] - Ray O'Reilly & Lyn Griffiths - El Gouna, Red Sea

PDF Report

El Gouna is a resort around 24 Kilometres, North of Hurghada on the Red Sea and is an oasis in a surrounding desert. It is Southwest of Ras Muhammad on the main part of Egypt and not on the Sinai Peninsula. It looks ideally placed for migrant birds and one rarely needs to leave the resort to find them.

Other Links

Birds of the Red Sea - Eilat

Website

Slide show…

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus

Website

Profile with image etc.