I'm very excited to hear about some new sighting in Iraq. Between the emails I've received and lists I've seen published I've heard of at least 20 birds that I didn't see while I was in country.
To facilitate more firsthand accounts, I've decided to make Birding Babylon a group blog. I'll open it up to other birders and wildlife watchers that are in Iraq now or have been previously and want to share some of their experiences. Those interested will be able to post directly to the blog. I'm hoping at least a few people will be regulars and keep up the momentum. If you are interested please send me an email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Major Ed reports some fantastic birds.
"As I was walking past one of our bombed out palaces last night, a couple of screeching birds flew out and kept circling around me, coming within ten or so feet at times. One of those moments that you are not expecting but turns into an unexpected time of enjoyment. I can only imagine they were Barn Owls.."
I remember a similar experience when a pair of Barn Owls circled around our building screeching...while we were playing Bingo outside.
When I told some of our Iraqi workers about a sighting I had of a Little Owl...they call it Booma, they told me it was bad luck. It told them that it was good luck for me.
Major Ed also mentions that he has seen three species of Kingfisher on the Euphrates River. Myself and others have reported both the Pied Kingfisher and the White-breasted Kingfishers - both spectacular birds. Major Ed has added the diminutive and beautiful Common Kingfisher. I've heard it referred to as a tiny flying jewel with its blues and turquoise and cinnamon breast. A very good bird. I looked unsuccessfully for them in England. My Father remembers them well growing up as a boy in southern England being prone to wandering around the countryside.
Another bird I wish I'd seen that Major Ed reports is the Blue Rock Thrush.
Bigwig at Silflay Hraka has another Iraqi list from Captain Kate, another US Marine Corps officer. He also has been busy adding to the entries on his birds of Iraq series and the photo gallery featuring LTC Bob's and MAJ Ed's photos. Some recent entries are on the Rook, Pied Kingfisher, Collared Dove, Black-winged Stilt, White-breasted Kingfisher and Red-wattled Lapwing.
Among the interesting birds Captain Kate reports are See-See partridge a very handsome little gamebird, Little Bittern - a small heron that I missed and Egyptian Nightjar, a relative of the North American Whip-poor-will and Chuck-wills-Widow.