Monday, February 10, 2014

Aswan Attractions: Bird watching another taste of the city

Egypt occupies a significant strategic geographical position as a bridge between continents offering migratory species the perfect route for their annual flights from Europe and Asia.

A wide variety of Egyptian habitats ranging from high rugged mountains to desert and tropical style jungle along the Nile basin, give it a unique character plus the diversity needed to attract an extremely wide range of bird life.

There are over 487 species of birds found in Egypt with about 150 being resident. The others are annual visitors from Europe and Asia with the primary migrations south in the fall and the return in the spring months.

In recent years Aswan has become an essential part of the itinerary of any birder visiting Egypt. It is often visited on the way to or from Abu Simbel but deserves more than a brief stop.

Conveniently situated at the head of Lake Nasser and roughly midway between the popular birding areas of Abu Simbel and Luxor, Aswan also has historical interest in the Temple of Philae, now relocated on an island in the Nile.

This is an area of great scenic beauty, a wonderful climate and excellent birding and should not be missed.

Birds typical of the Nile Valley are common at Aswan and include Egyptian Goose, Osprey and Spur-winged Plover and terns including Gull-billed Tern and White-winged Tern. Pied Kingfisher is abundant as is Little Green Bee-eater. Passerines include Nile Valley Sunbird and Common Bulbul and a wide range of migrants occurs during passage periods. Black-shouldered Kite is common in the farmland surrounding Aswan and Egyptian Nightjar has been seen here. Namaqua Dove has recently become established in the area.

In and around The First Cataract Islands Protectorate Saluga & Ghazal, the travelling birder may find up to 7 heron species, including Striated Heron Butorides striata.

When the Nile is running low, mostly from end of October – end of January, you can find on the mudflats and sandbanks up to 23 species of waders and 10 species of ducks. Nearly every year African Skimmer Rynchops flavirostris has been observed here during this time.


The Ancient Egyptians were very aware of the birds around them and often portrayed them in their art. The god Horus was usually represented as a falcon, or as a man with a falcon's head. In Egyptian hieroglyphs (a phonic system) the name 'Horus' was written as r.w, and apparently pronounced Hāru, meaning 'Falcon'. Thoth is usually depicted in human form with the head of an ibis. Ra is primarily depicted as a man in artwork, often with a falcon's head, much like Horus.

Scene from a tomb in Beni Hassan, Minya

     Scene from a tomb in Sakkara, Giza

       Book by Amazon: 
       A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Egypt
       by Richard Porter (Author) 
       David Cottridge (Photographer)

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