Musha Island mangroves, Djibouti
Forêt du Day is located 25 kilometres due west of Tadjoura on the northern side of the Gulf of Tadjoura. This is the main location for Djibouti Francolin Francolinus ochropectus but other species of interest include Verreaux’s Eagle Aquila verreauxii, Bonelli’s Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus, African Scops Owl Otus senegalensis, Hemprich’s Hornbill Tockus hemprichii, African Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis plus the unidentified finch and sunbird mentioned in the species section. See also the IBA page for further details.
Musha and Mskali Islands (potential Ramsar Site) about 15 km from Djibouti City in the Tadjoura Gulf bay. Two ancient coral reef islands and several satellite islets are located at around 15 km to the north of Djibouti city in the Gulf of Tadjoura. The larger Island, Musha, supports extensive stands of mangroves and sueada sp.
The islands and particularly the satellite islets are known as one of the breeding areas for Red-billed Tropicbird Phaeton aethereus, White-eyed Gull Larus leucophthalmus, Bridled Tern Sterna anaethetus, Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia, Osprey Pandion haliaetus, Goliath Ardea goliath, Striated Butorides striata and Western Reef Herons Egretta gularis, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles exustus and possibly mangrove warblers such as Clamorous Reed Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus. The site is colonized by Indian House Crow Corvus splendens and its presence has significant negative impacts on the breeding success of all species.
Ras Siyan / Doumera are located between 50 and 80 km north of Obock on the coastal plain and are the two main sites for observing raptor migration. The site where the maximum numbers of birds tend to arrive in autumn varies with wind direction - when it is from the north birds arrive at Ras Siyan, when from the south the movement shifts to Doumera. As well as the spectacular number and variety (28 species noted), a great attraction of these sites is that the birds arrive at an average height of 60 metres giving stunning views. In addition to the migrant raptors, Sooty Falcons Falco concolor breed locally, and seawatching can produce Flesh-footed Shearwater Puffinus carneipes, Red-billed Tropicbird Phaeton aethereus and regular sightings of Brown Booby Sula leucogaster and Greater Sterna bergii and Lesser Crested S. bengalensis, White-cheeked S. repressa and Bridled Terns S. anaethetus plus good numbers of European Merops apiaster and White-throated Bee-eaters M albicollis.
South-eastern strip – Doraleh / Djibouti city / Haramous Islands to Loyada (Potential IBA and Designated Ramsar Site).
This area consists of two main wetland habitats but for simplicity is designated as one site and part of it was declared as the first and only Ramsar site in the country when Djibouti ratified the Wetlands Convention in 2003. The site supports large intertidal mudflats with mangrove patches in several areas. The eastern coastal terrestrial part of the site forms a low sandy plain intersected by well vegetated wadis and covered with sparse acacia and shrubs.
The area supports large populations of passage and wintering shorebirds some of them are estimated as more than 1% of global population e.g. Crab Plover Dromas ardeola, Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus, Lesser Charadrius mongolus and Greater Sand Plover C. leschenaultii as well as more than ten species of heron, Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus, Yellow-billed Mycteria ibis and Abdim’s Stork Ciconia abdimii, Greater Phoenicopterus ruber and Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor. In addition, Arabian Bustard Ardeotis arabs and Arabian Golden Sparrow Passer euchlorus flocks occur.
The mudflats extend for approximately 25 kms from Doraleh, west of the capital, to Loyada on the Somali border. At low tide birds are widely dispersed over the area and difficult to observe due to heat haze. At high tide birds become more concentrated and three main locations were found in 2001 - west of the Route de Venise, on the Salines Est and at four closely linked points between Loyada and Haramous. Of these, the Route de Venise is the most accessible being on the main coast road around the city, west of the port.
Lac Abhé is approximately 120 km south-west of Djibouti city and is a regular weekend destination for people working in the capital as it is comparatively accessible. Although large numbers of Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus ruber still occur, the decreasing water level of the lake makes viewing them extremely difficult. However, the hot springs bordering the former margins of the lake can be good for migrants in spring and also have breeding Kittlitz’s Plover Charadrius pecurarius. This is also one of the two sites where Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githaginea has been recorded.
The site is a salt lake situated at the mouth of the Awash River forming a chain of six interconnected lakes positioned in the centre of the Afar Depression including Afambo, Bario, Gargori, Gummare and Laitali. Lake Abhé is the largest permanent inland wetland ecosystem in Djibouti and is well-known for its landscapes. The site is important for other threatened wildlife such as Spotted Hyena, Somali and Eritrean Warthogs and Dorcas Gazelle. It also contributes to the livelihoods of the nomadic Afar people who live in the surrounding arid areas.
Hanlé and Galafi Plains have a large alluvial depression with extensive acacia scrub, shallow wadis and vast sandy areas with scattered low hills bordered by steep-sided mountains. The area supports permanent fresh water that holds denser vegetation such as palm trees and patches of marshland.
There is a small breeding population of Ostrich Struthio camelus and the freshwater areas support small numbers of breeding water birds such as Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus, Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris, Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostra and Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca. Reed Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus, Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata and White-browed Coucal Centropus superciliosus have all been found here - the only know records in Djibouti.
Ali-Sabieh / Assamo is about 120 km from the capital city of Djibouti. It is an area bordering Ethiopia and Somalia and includes low hills and medium altitude mountains. It is intersected by wadis and has large zones of sparse acacia, mixed shrubs and some small gardens developed in the broader wadis where ground water is accessible.
Because of its geographic location on the border with Ethiopia and Somalia, diversity of bird species at this site shows a mix which differs from other IBAs in Djibouti. The wadis with acacia shrubs support Northern Crombec Sylvietta brachyura, Arabian Warbler Sylvia leucomelaena, Black Scrub Robin Cercotrichas podobe, Grey-headed Batis Batis orientalis, Yellow-breasted Trachyphonus margaritatus and Black-throated Barbet Tricholaema melanocephala, Yellow-necked Spurfowl Francolinus leucoscepus, and Rosy-patched Bush Shrike Rhodophoneus cruentus.
Wadis with Tamarix patches support nightjar species (possibly European and Nubian). The gardens host large numbers of Somali Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus somaliensis, Rüppell’s Weaver Ploceus galbula, Blue-naped Mousebird Urocolius macrourus, Grey-headed Kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala, Red-billed Oxpecker Buphagus erythrorhynchus, Crimson-rumped Waxbill Estrilda rhodopyga, Green-winged Pytilia Pytilia melba, Shining Cinnyris habessinicus and Variable Sunbird C. venustus and Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea. It is the only area in Djibouti where Abyssinian Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus minor, Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird Anthreptes orientalis and Eastern Chanting Goshawk Melierax poliopterus have been observed. Additionally, the area hosts two globally threatened mammal species: Leopard Panthera pardus pardus and Beira Antelope Dorcatragus megalotis.
Goba’ad Plain is in the south-west of the country near the Ethiopia border. The site consists of a vast alluvial depression with a mixture of extensive low acacia scrub, many shallow wadis and large sandflats and plateaux.
As a result of its geographical location between two other significant IBAs (Lake Abhé and Hanlé plain) and its closeness to the border with Ethiopia, its avifauna shows elements reflecting a mixture of bird species. Goba’ad is one of only three sites which hosts a breeding population of Ostrich Struthio camelus potentiality. In addition, typical semi-desert species presence include Black-crowned Sparrow Lark Eremopterix nigriceps, Spotted Thick-knee Burhinus capensis, Arabian Bustard, Lichtenstein's Pterocles lichtensteinii, Chestnut-bellied P. exustus and Spotted Sandgrouse P. senegallus, whilst wadis which are more vegetated hold Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Yellow-breasted Barbet, Blue-naped Mousebird, Grey-headed Batis, Rufous Bush Robin Cercotrichas galactotes and African Swallow-tailed Kite Chelictinia riocourii. With Ali-Sabieh / Assamo, Goba’ad is only the second site where Lesser Masked Weavers Ploceus intermedius have been recorded.
In addition to the species mentioned on the IBA page, Doda holds large numbers of Greater Short-toed Larks Calanrella brachydactyla, Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris, Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava, Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina and shrikes, many wintering warblers such as Ménétries Sylvia mystacea and Red Sea Warblers S.leucomelaena, Hemprich's Hornbill Tockus hemprichii, Somali Starling Onychognathus blythii, Rosy-patched Bush-Shrike Rhodophoneus cruentus, Rufous Bush Robin Cercotrichas galactotes, Arabian Bustard Ardeotis arabs and White Ciconia ciconia and Black Storks C.nigra.
Further, this large and complex site is also important for raptors including Rüppell's Gyps rueppellii, Griffon G. fulvus and Lappet-faced Vultures Torgos tracheliotus, Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus, Verreauxs' Eagle Aquila verreauxii and Dark Chanting Goshawk Melierax metabates. Finally, the basalt cliffs, rocky plateaux and plains of the area support Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githaginea, a species restricted to only 4 sites in Djibouti and found nowhere else in East Africa.