In March 2019, three birders – Peter Stronach, Bob Swann and Sam Viles – visited northern Algeria and the region of Tamanrraset in the south. The aim was to see the three most wanted species from the Western Palearctic birders’ perspective. Below is a summary of the main visited sites and key species. The full trip report give more details (daily logs,..).
Initially we started planning this trip in November 2018 with a view to visit both the north and south of the country. It was already established that visiting the Algerian Nuthatch site in the north was relatively straightforward. The posting in December 2018 by Kristina Klug of photographs of both African Silverbill and Red-billed Firefinch in the garden of Hotel Bois Petrifie in Tamanrasset was confirmation that a combined trip was not only desirable but also possible!
We decided it would be best to fly into Algiers and link up with a guide there then use Air Algeria for an internal flight to Tamanrasset.
This report gives details of our six day trip to both north and south Algeria in March 2019.
Key birding sites
BouAfroun Forest. This is a mature deciduous wood, and is one of the strongholds of Algerian Nuthatch. Levaillant’s Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker (spp. numidus), Black-capped Jay (spp. cervicalis), Coal Tit (ssp. ledouci) and Short-toed Treecreeper (spp. mauritanica) are also present. This site is also known to birders as ‘Djimla Forest’.
Atlas Crossbill site (36.068708, 4.499243). A vegetated gully by the N5 road 10km west of El Achir. We quickly found a family of Atlas Crossbill feeding in the Pinus nigra trees. Also present at this site was Tristram’s Warbler, with at least four singing males having freshly arrived from their wintering areas.
Hotel Bois Petrifie (22.803524, 5.512413 note this location is accurate, the one on Google maps is not!). One of the main hotels in Tamanrasset, the garden is accessed through the hotel and consists of a few small trees and open areas. Red-billed Firefinch were recorded in the trees, as well as seen feeding on the grass seeds on the ground.
Assikel, Art et Tourisme (22.788247, 5.523742). This is the office of the company with their hotel next door. The garden is accessed through the office and consists of a small cultivated area and several large trees. Red-billed Firefinch were recorded in small numbers in the trees during an evening visit, the owner told us a lot more were present early morning usually.
Oued Tamanrasset (22.721909, 5.468034). This is the oued that runs through the town before heading southwest through the rocky desert. Unfortunately it is now also the main outfall of the town’s semi-treated sewage water. It is the main site for African Silverbill.
Oued Tit. This oued is crossed by the main road north of Tamanrasset. We drove west up the wadi and parked at 22.963220, 5.190081. At the time of our visit water was flowing in the oued to the west of here, so we followed the water down for approximately 1km. We also birded the oued next to the road, birding both sides of the road.
Algerian Nuthatch (Sitta ledanti). There are five known sites for Algerian Nuthatch, these are detailed in articles on MaghrebOrnitho:
- Algerian Nuthatch status and breeding biology at the Guerrouch forest.
- A new breeding site of Algerian Nuthatch discovered.
- A birding trip to the new Algerian Nuthatch breeding site.
We visited BouAfroun forest, where the nuthatches were widespread inside the mature deciduous oak wood.
Red-billed Firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala). This species is widespread in Tamanrasset, we saw it in the gardens of the Hotel Bois Petrifie and the garden of Assikel Art et Tourisme. As with all the desert species, activity is greatest early morning or in the evening. We also found this species at Outoul.
African Silverbill (Euodice cantans). This species has been reported from Tamanrasset city before, but we did not see it here at all. However it was widespread and was the commonest species in Oued Tamanrasset and Oued Tit; we also recorded small numbers at Outoul.
Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri). This is the African subspecies (ssp. krameri) which was introduced into the Jardin D’Essai du Hamma and escaped and is now widespread throughout the Algiers area, see Fellous, A. Moulaï, R. & Jacob, J.P. (2005). Introduction et nidification de la Perruche à collier (Psittacula krameri) en Algérie. Aves 42: 272-277.