Friday, 24 August 2018

Djibouti

It's difficult for me to write positively about Djibouti. I have visited 106 countries out of 193 in the United Nations. This place is towards the bottom in terms of my fulfilment.


  • I was delayed at the airport and asked questions as to whether they would let me in despite having a pre-paid e-visa.
  • It is highly militarised. The country gains significant income by selling itself for naval and other military bases. That is not in itself a problem for me. I don't have any ideological prejudice. 
  • However, it seems to have rubbed off on the people, who were highly suspicious almost everywhere of a person with binoculars. (the binoculars were only brought out when facing a bird). I was stopped by members of the public several times and asked to explain myself. There are security guards everywhere on private buildings and hotels. 
  • There was a lot of opportunistic begging.
  • Taxi drivers would not stick to an agreed price.
  • In the same vein, I popped into a restaurant on a birding walk to see if they would sell me some water and coca cola. They doubled the price after a conversation between two staff.
  • Hotel staff weren't knowledgeable about their surrounding area. The biggest air-conditioned western supermarket was 200 metres from my hotel but the receptionist had no idea where I could get provisions. I found it myself. The hotel was the most expensive of my trip but had arguably the least facilities.
  • I wasn't allowed in departures at the airport for check in until two hours before the flight left. I had to sit in arrivals. There was no toilet in the departure lounge.
  • I knew it would be very hot. It was 40c each day. July is not a good time to visit. 
  • Overall and in conclusion, the city appears soulless, unfriendly, expensive and militarised.

On the other hand:
  • There may be better places outside the city.
  • The wifi was very strong in my hotel and the aircon worked well. It had to.
  • Doula waste treatment plant (WTP) was a very good recommendation from a locally based expat birder.
Birdingwise:

  • visited three sites: Doula WTP, heron beach and the coast near the Sheraton
  • 31 species seen
  • No lifers but several birds seen for the first time in Africa which I know well from Arabia e.g crab plover and white-eyed gull


Doula WTP
The waste water plant is about five kilometres south east out of the city. A clean water stream apparently used to run the full 2.5 kilometres from the plant to the mangroves on the coast near-by. However, water has been diverted off for small scale farming and mesquite bushes (introduced) have overrun much of the route. Nevertheless, the birding was good next to the works themselves and on the small scale allotments.

Abdim's stork

African collared dove

blue-cheeked bee-eater

cattle egret (l) with sacred ibis (r)

Namaqua dove

white-throated bee-eater

Rueppell's weaver

Coast near the Doula WTP

The mangroves weren't productive ever though the sea was out. The mudflats near-by were better. 


crab plover

Back at Doula WTP


speckled pigeon

At or near Heron beach  (west side of the city)


red-billed firefinch

house crow

sooty gull

Coast near the Sheraton, east side of the city


heuglin's gull 1

heuglin's gull 2

white-eyed gull 

curlew

curlew (l)

common sandpiper

31 species seen on 24th July and 25th July
First seen at:
1 Rock Dove Samo hotel  
2 Ring-necked Parakeet Samo hotel  
3 House Crow Samo hotel  
4 Speckled Pigeon Douda WTP  
5 African Collared Dove Douda WTP  
6 Laughing Dove Douda WTP  
7 Namaqua Dove Douda WTP  
8 Common Moorhen Douda WTP  
9 Kentish Plover Douda WTP  
10 Whimbrel Douda WTP 
11 Common Sandpiper Douda WTP 
12 Crab-Plover Douda WTP 
13 Abdim's Stork Douda WTP  
14 Western Reef-Heron Douda WTP
15 Cattle Egret Douda WTP  
16 Sacred Ibis Douda WTP 
17 White-throated Bee-eater Douda WTP
18 Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Douda WTP 
19 Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark Douda WTP 
20 Barn Swallow Douda WTP 
21 Graceful Prinia Douda WTP 
22 African Scrub-Robin Douda WTP 
23 Rüppell's Weaver Douda WTP 
24 Sooty Gull Heron beach 
25 Shining Sunbird Heron beach 
26 House Sparrow Heron beach
27 Red-billed Firefinch Heron beach 
28 Eurasian Curlew Area outside Sheraton 
29 White-eyed Gull Area outside Sheraton 
30 Lesser Black-backed Gull Area outside Sheraton 
31 Lesser Crested Tern Area outside Sheraton 




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