Birds analysis of Lake Burullus (Biodiversity and present status
par Web Team
Lake Burullus is situated along the Mediterranean coast and occupies a more or less, central position between the two branches of the Nile. It extends between 31o 22’ - 31 o 26’ N and 30 o 33’ - 31 o 07’ E. It is a shallow brackish lake, connected with the sea by a small outlet (Boughaz), about 50m wide near El Burg village. The length of the lake is about 65 km, and the width varied between 6 and 16 km, with an average of about 11 km. The depth of the lake ranges between 0.42 and 2.07 m. The eastern sector of the lake is the shallowest, showing an average depth of 0.8m.
The present area of lake Burullus is 420 km2 (100000 feddan) of which 370km2 is open water. Former estimates of the area are 588 km2 (140000 feddan) in 1913, 574 km2 (136620 feddan) in 1956 and 462 km2 (110000 feddan) in 1974 (Meininger & Atta, 1994). It seems that during the last 6 years there has been a reduction in the lake area by 30%. This decrease is due to continuous land reclamation projects along the southern and eastern shores of the lake. (see the map)
The present value of lake Burullus as a breeding area for waterbirds is high, both in respect of an Egyptian standard and on an international scale (Meininger & Atta, 1994). Lake Burullus is the least disturbed wetland in the Nile Delta, and being the second largest lake, makes this area relatively important compared to other wetland areas in the Nile Delta.
Breeding waterbirds in lake Burullus include Little Grebe (fairly common), Little Bittern (probably hundreds of pairs), Water Rail (fairly common), Moorhen (common), Purple Gallinle (common; together with Lake Manzala probably the most important breeding site in the Western Palearctic), Painted Snipe (locally southern shore), Collared Pratincole (at least 2000 pairs along the southern shore in 1992, one of the most important breeding site in the Western Palearctic), Kittlitz’s Plover (scarce; southern shore), Kentish Plover (common; over 300 pairs were recorded in 1992), Spur-winged Plover (fairly common), Little Tern (common; over 500 pairs were recorded in 1992). Reed-beds (salt-marshes) hold a variety of other breeding species; including Turtle Dove, Senegal Coucal (fairly common), Pied Kingfisher, Blue-cheecked Bee-eater, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Fan-tailed Warbler, Graceful Warbler, Clamorous Reed Warbler and Streaked Weaver. The Reed-beds of lake Burullus undoubtedly hold one of the largest populations in the Western Palearctic of Little Bittern, Purple Gallinile, and Clamorous Reed Warbler. The only western Palearctic populations of Painted Snipe and Senegal Coucal are found in Egypt.
The salt marshes around lake Burullus are of major importance for two subspecies endemic to Egypt: Lesser Short-toed Lark (Calandrella rufescens nicolli), which is only known from the northern Nile Valley and Delta. Lake Burullus may well be the stonghold of Calandrella rufescens nicolli (Goodman & Meininger, 1989; Meininger, et al. 1986; 1992 data collected by G.A.M. Atta and G. Wintermans).
Proper management of the lake, e.g. with a reduction of the direct distribution in some selected areas, would undoubtedly have an immediate positive effect on the numbers of waterbirds breeding in the area (Meininger & Atta, 1994).
Prepared by Dr. Mahmoud E. Tharwat and Mr. Waheed S. Hamied