Birds of Iraq
The latest from LTC. Bob.
I found a new bird pond – lots and lots of ducks: shovelers, pochards, pintails, ferruginous ducks, common teal; as well as grebes, coots, gulls, a pair of mallards. Water birds are flaky – as soon as they see or hear you, off they go. I was lucky and quiet a couple of times, so I have a few pics to send to you. Several of these are new species for me, I know, I am turning into a bit of a bird dork and kind of keeping a life list. But as Bigwig explained a couple of years back this “makes me a major bird geek as far as the vast majority of humanity is concerned, but to the real major bird geeks, I’m no more than a dilettante.” Anyway – nice birds. I like the name “ferruginous” – pertaining to or coloured like iron rust.
A little background on the birds here. Have had some questions – where they live, how much water there is, etc. etc.
This is Mesopotamia – that means “land between the rivers” – the two rivers being two of the worlds great rivers, the Tigris, which runs thru Baghdad, and the Euphrates, which runs about 30 miles south of Baghdad. They both start way up in Turkey; the Tigris enters Iraq from the north, the Euphrates drops down into Syria and enters Iraq from the west. They get close to each other near Baghdad, then separate and rejoin near the Shatt al Arab in the southeast at the Persian Gulf. The area between the rivers in the southeast is one of the most extensive marsh areas in the middle east – the marsh Arabs live there, and it is a water bird paradise. The extensive irrigation – Iraq is the cradle of civilization and has been irrigated for thousands of years, also leads to plenty of bird habitat.
I assume the winter visitors go north to the Black Sea, or even further – maybe up into the former Soviet Union or thereabouts.
The coots, ducks, shovelers and teal are all migratory – they started showing up here in December and will probably leave out in the next few weeks. The grebes will stay around all year, as do the moorhens. The pygmy cormorants are year round, but the common ones will head north soon as well. The herons and egrets are year round, as long as there’s water.
The first three pics are of birds mentioned – the geese are real wild geese, not the half domestic ones in the pond here at Al Faw.
The next photo is of COL Grey’s last day here, last Wednesday, taken from the back deck of the boathouse.
The next one is from the same location at 1722 this afternoon – as the dust storm moved in. The spots are flecks of dust picked up by the camera flash.
It’s a bit worse now – I am heading out to get on my bike and ride to my hooch.