Amun Tot Fish Ponds as home for Three-banded Plover in Aswan

Amun Tot Fish Ponds were unfortunately out of bound. The gate to the described area was closed when we arrived the first time. It’s a holiday. But the rest of the area looks good too. At the last – the most productive because the most muddy area – we actually see a Plover. A contrastingly marked Plover walking openly at a sandy stretch on a shallow, partially vegetated overflow of Nasser lake. That could be the long-awaited Three-banded Plover (Charadrius tricollaris). The plover runs parallel to us. When he turns to us, the dream of the Three-banded Plover is shattered. Unfortunately, it is clearly a Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula); the white stripe behind/above the eyes suggests a female. The yellow base of the beak with the black tip is nice to see. The legs are rich yellow.

After seeing the locked gate of Amun Tot Fish Ponds, we were able to get a picture from outside. Underwater, even flooded, ponds were not recognizable. In contrast, a high fence is currently being rebuilt. The traces on the dykes between the individual basins (which used to be the ponds) suggest heavy construction equipment that must have been on the site recently. But for us it goes on like this on a concrete road. The airport is already visible in the background.

The view – slightly elevated – of a flooded area is very good. It actually appears to have been under water for just a while. The riparian vegetation is not very developed yet. There is also “sandy beach”. I search the area intensively with the spotting scope. Unfortunately no sign of the Plover. I don’t see why this area shouldn’t be as good for the plover as the cordoned off Amun Tot Fish Ponds right next door. We then drive further and further into the area until the small town of Amun Tot can be seen. This place was designed as a tourist enclave whose economic concept did not work out.

Now, of course, one can ask oneself how one even came up with the idea of looking for a Three-banded Plover – a typical African species – here in Aswan. The reason lies in a report by Vincent Legrand. He reports on his attempts on April 30, 2009. Only on the second attempt he was able to convince the guard to let him in. Upon finding the Three-banded Plover in a fish pond, the birders immediately began taking photographs, but were quickly interrupted by military guards, who ordered them to leave the area. In fact, they later learned that the fishponds are located in the highly protected area of the Aswan High Dam and civilians are not allowed in. There is also said to be no possibility of obtaining any kind of access permit. Apparently the security guard at the entrance had accidentally opened the gate. Based on the fact that a pair was leading young (easily identified by their very fresh plumage) and the pair had been present since 2007, one can assume that the pair were breeding locally and rule out the possibility that this or a other pair is present had bred further south and migrated north with their young after breeding. In the months that followed, other bird watchers visited Aswan to see if there were any Three-banded Plovers left at the site. Access problems to the fish ponds of Tut Amon were again reported, sometimes requiring multiple attempts to get through the gate. Nevertheless, some birders have been successful with it. Otherwise, an Egyptian is recommended for a “guided tour” to the Three-banded Plover in Aswan.

Well, as of 2023, one must assume that the previous Amun Tot Fish Ponds in Aswan have lost their importance. The conversion is in full swing, as was shown a few days (on a working day) later. Ornithologists interested in rare birds of the western Palearctic should direct their efforts to the area further south.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic.  Trips to remote places like this one to capture images not only of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. The nice image of the blog is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Picture Shop” very soon. Just give a message, if could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

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