An Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) was photographed in spring 2017 at El Haouaria, northern Tunisia (Mohamed El Golli). El Haouaria, located at the extreme north-east of the Cap Bon peninsula, is known as a major point for migratory raptors following the Central Mediterranean Flyway (continental Italy-Sicily-Tunisia). In our opinion, this is the first record of the Eastern Imperial Eagle for Tunisia. It’s also the first record for Northwest Africa as a whole: no previous records exist for both Algeria and Morocco.
In an article about “New bird records in Tunisia (2005-2014)”, Hichem Azafzaf and his co-authors (2015) mentioned “the observation of a radio-tracked individual born in Hungary in 2012 and photographed in November 2013 on the island of Pantelleria (east of Cape Bon)”. They added that this “suggests that the bird joined this island from Cape Bon, Tunisia”. They also added “this same individual had previously entered Africa through Libya, coming from Greece, before continuing toward Ghana (where its transmitter broke down) and returned via Burkina Faso and Niger (BirdLife Hungary, M. Prommer)”. Here is the full quote in French:
« L’observation d’un individu radio-pisté né en Hongrie en 2012 et photographié en novembre 2013 sur l’île de Pantelleria (à l’Est du Cap Bon) laisse penser que celui-ci a rejoint cette île à partir du Cap Bon en Tunisie. Ce même individu avait préalablement pénétré en Afrique par la Libye en provenance de Grèce pour se rendre ensuite au Ghana (où son émetteur est tombé en panne) et revenir par le Burkina Faso et le Niger (BirdLife Hungary, M. Prommer) ».
Based on this bird, Azafzaf et al. (2015) wrote that the Eastern Imperial Eagle could be added as a new species for Tunisie.
As you can read above, there is nothing in the text that indicates that the bird has touched or flown-over Tunisia. We would like to hear what the readers think. Are observations like this one sufficient to add a new species to the national list of the country? Thank you!
Azafzaf, H., Feltrup-Azafzaf, C., Dlensi, H. & Isenmann, P. 2015. Nouvelles données sur l’avifaune de Tunisie (2005-2014). Alauda 83: 7-28.
Thanks to Mohamed El Golli for the photographs and information. Thanks also to Mohamed-Ali Dakhli for initiating the discussion about this eagle.
The author of the record is considering the publication of a short note detailing this observation.