Thursday, August 18, 2005

Hello to all my Finnish readers. For some reason I had over 300 hits from Finland today!

I didn't make it up to Montreal a few weeks ago for the ESA meeting. I was disappointed that the media covering the symposium only rewrote the press release. I'll make an effort in the next couple weeks to see if I can get some of the presentations. They deserve a wide audience. I'm especially interested to hear about what Mudhafar Salim from the Iraq Nature Conservation Society has been seeing in the bird surveys of the southern marshes.

I've been very, very busy lately. I have been studying for the the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). The test is on Saturday, so it is an understatement to say I'll have a little more time after that.

This coming Sunday I'll be going out to Yellowstone National Park with my three oldest children and one of my good friends who helped us out a lot when I was deployed. Another one of my friends owns a cabin just outside the park.

After I get back I have a good bit of work to do on this blog. First I have been negligent in keeping up with my emails. Many people have emailed me and I've been too swamped to reply. I also need to re-establish some contacts in Iraq which I have also let slip. The site also needs to cosmetic changes. Blogger messed with the code months ago and I haven't bothered to try and fix it.

Just a few new sites I've found recently. A soldier near Baghdad found an orphaned kestrel and fed the young bird lizards and mice until it was fledged. The story and a picture are here.

I found another Danish site with Iraqi wildlife. This time its snakes. Apparently Søe Pedersen and his wife Karin are reptile breeders. One or both of them spent time in northern Iraq and collected snakes. Their site has nice pictures of Large Whipsnake (Coluber jugularis) from Irbil, Dahl's Whipsnake (Coluber najadum), Caucasian Ratsnake (Zamenis hohenackeri) and Bulgarian Ratsnake (Elaphe sauromates). I especially liked his description of a Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) that he found when a large ratsnake barfed it up. He thought it was dead and brought it home to examine. The next morning he found the snake revived and hissing in his waste basket. Some of the species descriptions have pictures of the snake habitat in Iraq where they were caught.

Finally on the domestic animal side I found a site by Sir Terence Clark who lived in Iraq from 1985 to 1990. His article describes some of his investigations into the origins of the Saluki, a hunting dog related to the Afghan Hound. There is an amazing photo from the Royal Harthiya Hunt in 1946 Baghdad. The men are on horses in traditional English Foxhunting gear and are surrounded by a pack of Dorset Foxhounds.

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