Don't wait for the Movie
I want to let people know that I have a small book coming out May 1st based on some of my in-country entries from Iraq and Kuwait. The book is called Birding Babylon - A soldiers journal from Iraq. Its a collection of entries from this blog as well as a systematic list at the end. While not my magnum opus, it is nice to have something that might encourage a bit more interest in Iraq's natural history. The book is published by the Sierra Club and the University of California Press and is available online from the publishers and most major book sites. I'd like to thank Diana Landau and Orli Cotel from Sierra club who have worked hard on this project. I'd also like to thank Flemming Ulrich, a Danish Soldier and birder who allowed the use of his Blue-cheeked Bee-eater photo from Camp Eden, Iraq to be used on the cover.
About a week ago I went down to the Hackensack River in the Meadowlands of New Jersey. I met John Seabrook from the New Yorker magazine, who is writing a story on the book and my time in Iraq. We paddled around the marshes with a couple folks from Hackensack Riverkeeper, an environmental organization dedicated to protecting the river. We saw a few birds that I also saw in Iraq including a Moorhen, flying off into the marsh. The article should be out in Monday's edition of the New Yorker.
Last weekend I gave a talk at an Army Medical conference about human-wildlife interactions in Iraq from the Paleolithic domestication of the dog in northern Iraq to the bounceback of the southern Marshes today. It was a bit on the rough side but I'll be working on the brief to smooth it out a bit. I recently stumbled on the UNEP Iraqi Marshland Observation System. Each week they take imagery of the southern Marshes to chart the progress of reflooding and vegetation growth. Last week they measured the vegetation at 58% of historical levels. In March 2003 the Marshes were only 7% of their historical size.
Finally, I've started a new project called IraqFauna. It uses the collaborative Wiki model which allows anyone to edit and (hopefully) add to the contents. I have a number of goals for the site. One is to aggregate information on Iraq's animal biodiversity and stimulate interest for people inside and outside Iraq. I've posted my systematic list of birds I saw in Iraq and will start expanding the list with other people's sightings as soon as I'm done formating mine. I also put a page up on the Iraq Bioblitz Project, which I hope can move forward.