Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This past Sunday we got back out to the laundry pond again. As usual, the pond was loaded with waterbirds. I counted 525 Eurasian Coots swimming around in the middle of the pond and feeding in the reeds. The group of White-headed Ducks that have been present since October were still at the pond with 7 birds, both males and females. We watched a female from very close range coming out of the reeds on the east side of the pond. A good number of Shovelers were present in the pond when we arrived, then started flying around in small flocks when the F-16s roared off the runway behind us on afterburner.

A few other ducks species including Common Pochard, Gadwall, Common Teal and Ferruginous Ducks were present in smaller numbers along with a handful of Little Grebes.

We completely circled the pond for the first time. Usually, we park on one side and remain there. On our way back we saw some activity in a patch of vegetation near the entrance road. It turned out to be a flock of several dozen European Goldfinch. We got some great closeup looks at these beautiful birds as they appeared to be feeding on thistle seeds. As we were moving back to the truck we found a group of Spanish Sparrows with their bold chestnut, black and white plumage.

The highlight of our visit to the pond was watching two Jackals running back and forth on the edge of the pond, chasing and being chased by a Red-wattled Plover. The bird dive bombed them, while they charged around. After about five minutes, they noticed us and stopped to stare, then trotted off into the open area toward the west side of the base.

Around Sunset I returned to the area and I saw the pair of Jackals again yelping and chasing eachother around.

After the sun went down, I heard large numbers of Green Toads calling in the irrigation ditches near the west side of the base. It reminded me of the spring choruses of various frogs and toads in Connecticut. I guess Spring comes to Iraq in Mid-January.

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