Friday, March 03, 2006

Bird Observations in Camp Victory/Baghdad Airport Area Oct 2005-February 2006

I've mentioned Joe H, an American birder who arrived in Iraq in October to work with the military. He's done a great service by providing monthly updates of his sightings while working at the large base complex near the Baghdad International Airport. If you are a military birder, its a good place to be stationed with a mix of several large lakes, scrub areas, some palm and eucalyptus trees, and reed-lined canals. I saw several great birds at Camp Victory, Camp Liberty and some of the smaller camps close-by including one of my favorites, the blue-cheeked bee-eaters which were fledging young next to one of Saddam's unfinished palaces - humorously named - Victory over America Palace.

Joe's tour came to an end at the end of February. He reports that during his stay he listed 64 species, of which 48 were lifers. Reading his posts will give you an excellent list of what to look out for during the late fall and winter. There are a few differences with what I saw a year earlier at LSA Anaconda around 50 miles north. Joe saw a better variety of ducks than I did including several species that I didn't see including Common Pochard, Red-crested Pochard and Gadwall. Like at Anaconda Northern Shovelers were sometimes seen in large flocks. I also had the impression while I was there that Anaconda had more rooks and jackdaws during the winter. Our nightly, noisy invasion of rooks with some jackdaws mixed in may have been because we were within a few hundred meters of a good size date palm grove where the birds would roost. Joe also saw a Blue Rock Thrush and some other birds I would have liked to see such as common kingfisher, skylark, marsh warbler and little bittern.

Read all his updates over at BirdForum.

To Joe - Thanks for your service and thanks for sharing your sightings.