I put a donation button on the website today. I can spend a bit more time doing this if I have some money coming in. Ideally, I would like to spend 8 or so hours a week working on this and related projects. A short term project, which perhaps some people would consider financing is getting to the ESA meeting in Montreal next week to hear and hopefully meet some of the Iraqi biologists who have been doing research in the southern marshes. I've heard that the bird surveys in the Marshes yielded some amazing birds. I'll wait till the researchers themselves publicly release the info, but the news is very heartening.
Anyway, here's the expense breakdown for the ESA meeting. I promise to be the paragon of frugality. I'll even publish my expense report!
My plan is to leave Connecticut and drive (about 6 1/2 hours) to Montreal the night before the meeting (Tuesday). After the meeting I'll hop in the car, drink a few Red Bulls and drive back to Connecticut.
Gasoline (710 mile round trip) - $80
1 day registration for meeting - $230 !
1 night at hotel - $80
Misc. (food, parking, etc.) - $120
I plan to write in depth about the research going on in Iraq when I return.
I've come across a few more soldiers accounts of wildlife sightings recently. I'm trying to track down some British Soldiers who have been birding in Iraq. Both the British Army and the RAF have ornithological societies composed of current and retired members of the services. The Army Ornithological Society takes trips all over Europe and sometimes further afield (like Malaysia). I know at least one of their members has just returned from Iraq.
I'm working (very slowly) on my systematic list. When I wrote all the birds down I had 116 species from Iraq plus two additional from Kuwait (Desert Warbler and Brown-necked Raven).
I found an email from BBC correspondent Frank Gardner on the OSME yahoo group (MEBirdNet) who reported what was probably the first westerner's report of Iraqi bird sightings in a decade from Basra in May 2003. Tragically in June 2004 Frank, the BBC security correspondent in the Middle East, was shot multiple times and partially paralyzed in Saudi Arabia in a terrorist associated attack that killed a BBC cameraman. Frank is back in England and gave an interview in June.
Date: Fri, 09 May 2003 19:11:03 +0100
From: Frank Gardner
Subject: FW: Salaams from Basra
Greetings from HQ 7th Armoured Brigade with just happens to be in a fabulous former palace of Saddam's. Moats, orchards and scrub, its a paradise for birds. The air is filled with a flock of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters that have been here a week now. The European variety are still around in small numbers. First to wake up in the morning are the Red-Wattled Lapwings which are making a fearful racket. But there's also a pair of White-tailed Plovers here, beautiful birds with long, trailing yellow legs. Outside the cookhouse there's a Red-backed Shrike sharing the same tree as a Lesser-Grey Shrike and just behind the ammo dump there's a pair of Common Babblers (yes, black eye, not yellow!) hiding. A flock of Yellow-throated Sparrows is on the ground, mingling with the odd Whitethroat and I've seen a solitary Sedge Warbler. Fishing from the moat are 3 Pied Kingfishers and just across the Shatt Al-Arab Ive seen Squacco Heron and White-throated Kingfisher in the date palms. One surprise for me is to see Wood Pigeon here (they wake us up in London at weekends!) but the highlight has been a stunning male Red-necked Phalarope swimming round in circles on a lake out near the oil refinery. hope yr both well all the best