Bird Watching Destinations in Algeria
Algeria is a vast country with a range of different habitat types offering shelter and sustenance for a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. With the southern region of Algeria consisting mainly of desert, the majority of the thirty-one documented Important Bird Areas (IBA) are found along the coastline and in the mountainous northern regions of the country. In fact twenty-three IBAs are found in the Tell Atlas region, and with six IBAs in the El Kala region, east of Annaba and near the coastline, this is a popular area for birding enthusiasts. Lying to the south of the town of Constantine, the wetlands of Chotts Constantinois include five IBAs and are also worthwhile sites for bird watchers to visit.
Among the endemic species birders are likely to spot, particularly in the Djebel Babor area of the Petite Kabylie mountains and the Taza National Park, is the Algerian nuthatch (Sitta ledanti). Running parallel to the magnificent Mediterranean coast, the Kabylie mountain range is classified as Mediterranean North African biome, and is also home to the Levaillant’s woodpecker (Picus vaillantii), Moussier’s redstart (Phoenicurus moussieri), and Subalpine warbler (Sylvia cantillans). Among the raptors found in this Mediterranean North African biome are the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), the Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), and Booted eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus).
Considered to be one of the most important breeding sites for waterbirds in the Mediterranean region, the marshy basin of Lac Tonga forms part of the coastal lagoons around El Kala and is located around seventy kilometers to the east of Annaba and around five kilometers west of the border between Algeria and Tunisia. Lac Tonga has seasonal freshwater, turning brackish when rainfall is scarce and has extensive sand dunes to the north. Birders visiting Lac Tonga, and the other five IBAs in the El Kala lagoons, should look out for a range of duck species, grebes, bitterns, teals, herons, gees, wigeons, pintails, coots, to mention just a few. Raptor species spotted in the area include the European honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus), Short-toed snake eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Montagu’s harrier (Circus pygargus), Long-legged buzzard (Buteo rufinus), and the Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina).
As is the case with many African countries, Algeria faces a number of challenges with regard to environmental issues – including soil erosion caused by poor farming practices and overgrazing, desertification, lack of water, pollution of coastal waters (particularly the Mediterranean), among others. However, Algerian authorities have acknowledged these issues and the country is associated with a number of international agreements protecting natural resources, including the Ramsar convention for the protection of worldwide wetlands. Certainly, birding enthusiasts looking for an interesting destination to add to their list may want to consider the North African country of Algeria.