Autumn migration of soaring birds through the Gebel El Zeit Important Bird Area (IBA), Egypt, threatened by wind farm projects

Autor(en): Hilgerloh, Gudrun
Michalik, Andreas
Raddatz, Bernd
Stichwörter: Biodiversity & Conservation; Biodiversity Conservation; IMPACTS; Ornithology; Zoology
Erscheinungsdatum: 2011
Volumen: 21
Ausgabe: 4
Startseite: 365
Seitenende: 375
Systematic bird observations were performed during autumn 2006 in the migration bottleneck area of Zeit Bay, Egypt (27.73 degrees N, 33.51 degrees E), situated on the coast of the Gulf of Suez, opposite southern Sinai. Owing to the strong northerly winds in that area, considerable pressure exists to construct wind farms. A total of 145,432 soaring birds, including 134,599 storks and 9,376 raptors over a period of 453.6 hours were observed between 20 August and 29 October by two teams working daily in two shifts. White Stork Ciconia ciconia and European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus were the most numerous species (91.4% and 5.7% respectively) of all soaring birds observed. As both species migrate early, relatively few birds were recorded passing through in October. A total of 57,179 soaring birds were observed within a range of 2.5 km from the observers, and of these 32,248 were flying at heights up to 200 m. Few individuals of the rapidly declining breeding populations of Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnotperus ('Endangered') and Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni ('Vulnerable') passed (8 and 33 respectively). Pallid Harriers Circus macrourus ('Near Threatened') however, were more numerous (100) than at other migration sites along the East African-West Asian Flyway (Israel, southern tip of Sinai, Suez and Bab-el-Mandeb). Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus and Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus were also more numerous than at these sites. Some other large migrant species, observed at Suez, Bab el-Mandeb or in Israel, were seen only in small numbers or not at all at Zeit Bay in autumn. Among them, the Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis being the best known example of loop migration, entering Africa at Suez and Bab el-Mandeb, is for this reason not expected in autumn at Zeit Bay, while in spring it is a regular migrant. The number of Black Storks Ciconia nigra observed accounted for 4.8% of the flyway population, that of White Storks for 33.3%, Great White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus for a further 3.5% and European Honey Buzzards for 0.8%. The extrapolation of the number of birds passing through the study area during the migration season, suggests that it was used by 92% of the White Stork, 12% of the Black Stork, 5% of the Great White Pelican, 4% of the European Honey Buzzard and 2% of the Pallid Harrier flyway populations in autumn 2006.
ISSN: 09592709
DOI: 10.1017/S0959270911000256

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