Monday, March 22, 2004

Flashback Feb 23, 2004

On February 23rd at 3:00 in the Iraq. By the time it was light we were far into the country. In the southern part of the country, the landscape was like Kuwait, flat desert with a cast of green from the winter rains. There were a few camels and traditional black Bedouin tents here and there with large flocks of sheep and goats nearby.

As we moved north the desert became scrub. We got off the highway and onto a dirt road to avoid the populated areas. I was surprised to see pools of water all along side of the road.

We drove through the southern marshes which were absolutely decimated by Saddam's draining program. He did this to destroy the traditional home of the Marsh Arabs. All along the road were ditches and dug up ground. For miles and miles the land looked like a giant disorganized construction zone.

Since everything was new I was having a great time my first day in Iraq. What looked like miles from any dwellings little kids stood by the side of the road waving to us.

The birding was fantastic. In fact I haven't had so many life birds in a day since being in Indonesia in 1990. There were birds everywhere, waterbirds and shorebirds in the pools, landbirds flying by or sitting on fences.

The number of birds was in stark contrast to the dearth of birds in Kuwait.

The pools had so many shorebirds, that I could only identify the large and distinctive ones as we whizzed by. There were lots of black-winged stilts, avocets, Red-wattled plover and black-headed gulls. Lots of hooded crows and rooks.

Here's the list for the day:
1.Little Grebe
2.Little Egret
5.Black-winged stilt
6.Spur-winged Plover
7.Red-wattled Plover
8.Black-tailed Godwit
10.Common Sandpiper
11.Black-headed Gulls
12.Slender-billed Gull
13.Armenian Gull
14.Rock Dove
15.Wood Pigeon
16.Collared Dove
17.Pied Kingfisher
18.Crested Lark
19.Barn Swallow
20.White(pied) Wagtail
21.White-cheeked Bulbul
22.Great Grey Shrike
23.Isabelline Shrike
25.Hooded Crow
26.House Sparrow

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