Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Birding in Tallil

I've been remiss in not writing about this sooner. The November/December 2008 Birding magazine, published by the American Birding Association, has a fantastic photo essay of birds observed and photographed by Colonel Thomas Dove, a physician who served at Tallil Airbase near Nasiriyah in Southern Iraq. The ruins of ancient Ur are just next door to the base.
Colonel Dove served in Iraq from October 2007 to June 2008. He accumulated an impressive list of species and photographed over 100 species. I laughed reading his account of a particular "No Swimming" sign popular with a group of Pied Kingfishers. When I visited the base in December 2004 one of the kingfishers was beating a small fish against the sign to emphasize the point!
The photos are spectacular and the essay echoes the sentiments of many people who have found beauty and inspiration in Iraq's avian residents. I'm particularly jealous of his sightings of Greater Flamingos, which I never saw. A picture of 2 of the flying flamingos is featured in the article.
Thanks Col. Dove for your first rate pictures and article.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Birding the VBC

I think the future "Where to find birds in Iraq" will have to include the cluster of bases near Baghdad International Airport (Victory Base Complex). These include Victory, Liberty and Slayer. I would guess that the aggregate list could be approaching 200 species between all the folks who have been watching birds there in the last 5 years. Some of these include White-headed Duck, Great White Pelican and Darter. The ponds, reedbeds and trees make it a nice migrant trap for waterfowl, shorebirds and passerines. For a while, there were even articles in the local base paper on the common birds seen around the area.

Matt Pike took some great pictures of many species while there. He has a gallery of around 120 species with fantastic photos. He saw species such as Darter and Basra Reed Warbler.

Many of the messages and photos on the Operation Iraqi Birds forum started by John Duresky relate to observations at VBC.

There are also recent photos and posting from LTC Bob from his second tour at VBC. His entire archive can be found here.