Iles Habibas Marine Nature Reserve

Bird watching and nature enthusiasts will certainly be interested in Algeria’s Iles Habibas Marine Nature Reserve. This fascinating natural feature comprises two islands called Charguia and Gharbia. Located some 12 km from the Algerian mainland, near to the Les Andalouses headland, and 11 km northwest of Cap Sigale, this marine nature reserve covers some 40 hectares, encompassing scrub vegetation such as Frankenia corymbosa, Ephedra fragilis and Withania frutescens. It is also been a named an important site due to the rare birds found here.

The two key bird species found in the Iles Habibas Marine Nature Reserve are the Eleonora’s Falcon and Audouin’s Gull. Eleonora’s Falcon is a stunning bird of prey with long pointed wings, slender body and long tail. Audouin’s Gull, measuring 48 to 52 cm, is easily recognised by its dark red bill with a pale tip and mostly pale grey plumage. This bird species lays 2 to 3 eggs in a nest on the ground. As specialist fish eaters they feed far out at sea and generally at night. Other birds recorded on the islands include the Cory’s Shearwater, European Shag, Osprey and Yellow-legged Gull. Fortunately the reserve is mostly undisturbed due to difficult access and this has allowed the rare Audouin’s Gull to nest in relative peace. In order to continue protecting the species it is vital that rodent populations are controlled and national wildlife protective legislation is enforced.

Another interesting feature of the Iles Habibas site is the lighthouse here. Built in 1879, this lighthouse consists of a 12 m square tower with gallery and lantern, which is based upon a keeper’s house. Its focal plane is 112 m.

Even if you cannot gain access to the islands of Iles Habibas Marine Nature Reserve, a boat trip in the area can still provide stunning views of these natural habitats and their feathered inhabitants.