In mid-December 2018, I saw a flock of Lagonosticta senegala in Tamanrasset in the garden of the hotel where my husband and I were staying (http://bois-petrifie.org/en/). The firefinches seemed to be very much at home a big tree and there were about three or four pairs of them. They also seemed to get on well with their neighbours in the tree, the African Silverbills (see last week’s post).
The firefinches were introduced in this region in the middle of last century. For more information I highly recommend http://www.magornitho.org/2017/04/red-billed-firefinch-algeria/.
Santa Cruz is the place to visit in Oran and the Wikipedia article gives plenty of background information.
It’s possible to walk up the hill, but be prepared for steep paths and exposure to sun and wind. Alternatively, take a taxi. The price for going up, the driver waiting and getting you down again depends on the goodwill of the taxi driver and your negotiating skills. We paid the meter price (about 800 Dinar), but people have also paid much more than that.
Unless you’re heavily interested in Spanish military architecture, the fort itself is not that exciting because it’s mostly empty halls and yards these days.
One goes up there for the views (and possibly the picnic area). You can see all of Oran, the Lion Mountains and Canastel to the east, the big salt lake to the south and more hills and the military port to the west (not photos of the latter though – the military doesn’t take kindly to that).
When we were there the church was still under reconstruction, as is the cable car which might hopefully be running again … soon. Things take time in Algeria, but they get done eventually. So, here’s to our next visit, including l’église and le téléphérique!
Chloris chloris is an amazing singer, and this C. c. voousi in a woodland near Oran, Algeria, was no exception. This is also the reason why some nitwits put them into cages.
This Thalasseus sandvicensis flew by a beach near Oran, Algeria. Many thanks to the good people of birdforum.net who always help with my queries!
Despite its duck-like look, Scopus umbretta is a wading bird. I saw this one a few years ago in Kruger Park.
Close to home in Oran is a scrubland where Galerida cristata can be seen and heard on a regular basis. At the moment, the species isn’t facing extinction (yet), but the overall numbers are in decline.
This female Chloropicus namaquus was feeding on some kind of insect in Hlane National Park, a few years ago. The species is also called Thripias namaquus or Dendropicos namaquus – taxonomy can be a minefield.