Thursday, March 18, 2004

Well since I'm currently stuck on base and my superiors are very risk averse and won't let me go on any trips, I'll be posting a few of my experiences in the last month and a half I've been in Theater.

I landed in Kuwait in the middle of the night in the first week of February after spending two months training in an ungodly cold Army base in the States. We were out on a field exercise in January when the ambient temperature was minus 27 degrees fahrenheit. The windchill was down to -50 F. It was a splendid way to train for the desert. I told some of the younger troops that the purpose was to learn how to suffer. I was only half kidding.

Birding in Kuwait was limited due to my location in the middle of nowhere surrounded by thousands of coalition troops either coming or going to Iraq.

During my two week say, I'm sorry to say that I saw 5 species of birds (House sparrow, Barn Swallow, Rock Dove, Desert Wheatear, and Crested Lark)

Driving down the highway near Kuwait City there were many places that looked very good for birds but alas, I was driving in a convoy. Maybe next time.

The crested larks have turned out to be one of the most common birds both in Kuwait and Iraq. They are a bit bigger and plumper than a horned lark and they have a funny little crest on their head that always seems to be sticking straight up. They run a few feet then stop and look around then repeat this all day long. I think they probably eat a wide variety of things but I saw one doing an imitation of a house sparrow trying to eat a french fry.

On our convoy up from Kuwait we had to stop because one of the humvees had a flat. We all piled out of the vehicles and set up a defensive perimeter with our weapons pointing out. It was a bit of a surreal scene because as I'm laying on the ground with my eye on some guy racing around in a pickup truck wondering if he's going to take a potshot at us (which would have been suicidal), A pair of crested larks were not even 10 feet from me with the male displaying and dancing around.

Desert Wheatear
Crested Lark

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