IBA Criteria met: A1, A4iii (2001)
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Area: 5,000 ha
The site lies about 90 km south of the town of Blida (south of Alger), in the Hauts Plateaux mountain range, on the southern edge of the Massif de l’Ouarsenis. It is the largest artificial impoundment on the Hauts Plateaux and lies close to the main N1 road, which leads south from Blida to Djelfa. The site consists of an open water surface in excess of 1,000 ha (when the lake is full) and extensive marshland to the south, surrounding the various oueds that flow into the lake. The lake is replenished by autumn and winter rainfall and water-levels vary greatly through the year as a result of evaporation and water flow out of the lake, with lowest levels usually occurring just before the rains in autumn. Vegetation in the permanent marshland includes lush areas of Phragmites sp. and Typha sp.
See Box for key species. Marmaronetta angustirostris is present on the site from the end of April to June in numbers up to 240 individuals, and also on passage. Some birds are known to breed (with at least three breeding pairs present out of 240 adults in 1978). There are also occasional winter records of individuals or small numbers of this species and two other globally threatened species, Geronticus eremita (four individuals in the 1960s) and Oxyura leucocephala.
The site is important for a variety of wintering and passage waterbirds. More than 20,000 waterbirds have been recorded (22,621 birds in 1991) and there is also a reported total of 30,000 ‘ducks, coots and waders’ with no information on the year. There is a record of 3,000 Phoenicopterus ruber from 1972, but this species does not appear to have been recorded at the site since the 1970s. Other species recorded in large numbers, both in the 1970s and more recently, include Anas penelope (12,000), A. crecca (2,500), A. acuta (2,500), A. clypeata (3,000), Aythya ferina (4,000) and Fulica atra (9,000). Other species wintering in smaller numbers include Podiceps cristatus, 380 Tadorna tadorna, 70 Grus grus and a variety of waders, including hundreds of Himantopus himantopus, Recurvirostra avocetta, Charadrius alexandrinus and Calidris minuta.Sterna nilotica winters and breeds at the site. There are records from the nineteenth century of Tadorna ferruginea breeding at the site and of wintering birds of this species in the 1980s. The site is important for a few breeding species (such as Sterna albifrons) which are otherwise known to breed only on the Mediterranean coast of Algeria. Other breeding birds include Tachybaptus ruficollis, Podiceps cristatus, P. nigricollis (this was said to be the only breeding site in Algeria, with 50 pairs in the late-1970s), and small numbers of Tadorna tadorna, Anas platyrhynchos, Porphyrio porphyrio and (probably breeding) Larus genei. A variety of raptors is recorded, including breeding Falco tinnunculus, wintering Circus aeruginosus and C. cyaneus and occasional large concentrations of Milvus migrans (together with Ciconia ciconia) attracted by locusts.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Barrage de Boughzoul. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 28/11/2020.