Thursday, June 24, 2010

In March when we still had a significant amount of green around our building, with lots of small orange flowers we had a lot of butterflies visiting including two types of Blues (the one pictured and a tiny species with a wingspan perhaps half an inch across). Also we had a good number of Cabbage Whites and Painted Ladies. In April, as the Eucalyptus trees flowered, we had massive numbers of Painted Ladies on base. I counted over 300 in a short walk to the gym and back. For a week or so they were everywhere, including getting in the buildings. I had the same experience with a sudden explosion of painted lady numbers at the same time as the Eucalyptus flowering. Recently I have been seeing some more blues and this butterfly (some type of Nymphalid) with dark wings and orange spots.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Today we are having a nice dust storm. The White-cheeked Bulbuls around the building were very active today dispite the dismal weather. This one was singing its heart out in our mulberry tree and chasing house sparrows around.

In the past week or so I have been hearing extremly loud clicking sounds coming out of the trees around base. I thought they were either katydids or cicadas. It has been incredibly hot, hitting around 117 degrees F for several days in a row. The critters making the sounds didn't seem to mind the scorching temperatures.
Several days ago I was walking back to my trailer at about 2 AM, the temperature was still in the nineties. In one Eucalyptus tree next to a portable construction light had what sounded like dozens of the clicking critters. After a second of searching I found the culprit, small green cicadas with blue eyes! The color was incredible and contrasted dramatically with the dust covered leaves. I caught a few and went back to my building to get my camera. The cicadas buzzed angrily like little toy noisemakers in my hands. Two soldiers smoking outside didn't know what to make of the noise when I walked up.

When I went back to the tree there were cicadas buzzing around the construction light and bats circling catching insects. I have not seen or heard any large aggregation of cicadas since. I'm wondering if there was simply a large emergence and then dispersion.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


One of our soldiers found this tree frog in a portolet and brought it to me. I let it go in the reeds of the north retention pond. I think it is Hyla savignyi

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

JBB Laundry Pond
In May my birding partner and I drove up to the laundry pond and found a small group of little terns resting in the road. Its a little hard to believe but I've seen 4 species of tern here on base since last fall. Two are marsh terns and seem to be fairly common during the summer here, the white-winged and whiskered terns. I saw the fourth species just two days ago at the north retention pond with a Common Tern joining in with the Stilts that were mobbing me as I walked along the shore.
Here's the lists for 2 days in May. I was surprised to see a female white-headed duck staying around so late in the season. Up to 9 White-headed ducks have been present on JBB since October. The several acre laundry pond seemed to be to their liking, though I also saw them at the smaller north retention pond. Here's a picture from earlier in the season.

19 May 2010
0530-0645 Laundry Pond
Little Grebe – 20
Ferruginous Duck – 10
Kestrel -1
Coot – 1
Moorhen – 2
Purple Swamphen – 1
Collared Pratincole – 4
Spur-winged Plover - 3
Little Tern – 10
Crested Lark – 2
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater - 6

23 May 2010 -
0530 – 0830 South Laundry Pond and North Retention Pond, JBB Iraq
Observed small fish in Laundry pond – singles and small schools 2 inches or less
Little Grebe – 20
Pygmy Cormorant – 1
White-headed Duck – 1 female
Ferruginous Duck – 10
Marbled Teal - 2
Kestrel -1
Coot – 2
Moorhen – 6
Purple Swamphen – 1
Little Bittern – 2
Black-crowned Night Heron - 3
Collared Pratincole – 1
Stilt - 10
Spur-winged Plover - 6
Little Tern – 3
Whiskered Tern - 1
Crested Lark – 10
Barn Swallow - 35
Wood Pigeon – 8
Rock Pigeon – 12
Collared Dove - 4
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater – 6
Grey Hypocolius – 1
Lesser Grey Shrike - 1
Graceful Prinia - 5
House Sparrow – 20
Hooded Crow - 4

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I was up at the north pond checking out the wildlife. The Black-winged Stilts were making a racket and flying around. A few days before I thought I had seen some chicks running into the reeds. I found this little fuzzball under a big rock by the water when I was looking for frogs (there was also a frog under the same rock). The stilt chick didn't move a muscle for a minute or so then ran down to the water and surprised me by swimming away, paddling along with its ridiculously long legs. The adults really went wild when the chick belted out its alarm call and started trying to crap on me and the other sergeant with me. Later in the day I saw 2 more chicks feeding out on the mudflats.
Making a getaway