Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nature Iraq completes fifth season of Winter Biodiversity Surveys

It is amazing to me all that Nature Iraq and their partners have accomplished in the past 5 years. They are witnesses to the incredible resilience of the natural world and are an inspiration to me that even when things are darkest there are people with the vision to see beyond the present to a better tomorrow and work towards that future.

There is something heroic and inspiring in their work, often struggling against obstacles that would dishearten most. We often derive hope from those whom transcend a difficult situation and carry their vision forward. War, politics, crime and pessimism have all provided ample excuses to limit their vision, but despite this they have prospered and moved forward, even at great personal cost.

I am a big believer in Providence. To me, and I know to many in Nature Iraq, to reveal the secrets of nature is to reveal the hand of God working among us. To be outside in nature should remind us that God is always near. Nature Iraq's mission is one of science and discovery but at the same time one of hope and restoration.

Article from Birdlife International

Nature Iraq Website

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Return to Babylon

It's official. I will be back in Iraq in a matter of months for a year long command performance. Another year in Mesopotamia. I am not looking forward to being away from my family and friends for so long. I am looking forward to my medical mission as well as getting more familiar with the flora and fauna of Iraq.

Perhaps, I'll get a chance to meet, and maybe work with, some of the Iraqi Environmental NGOs who are doing such great work in the country.

Though, I can't hope to match Mudhafar Salim's Iraq bird list I hope to at least reach 160 species. I think a trip to Kurdistan and my usual movement around the country should make that attainable. I think just identifying some of the Old World warblers that went in the unidentified category last time will put me well on the path.

Since last year Major Randall Rogers has been putting out a great natural history newsletter from Al Asad Airbase in Al Anbar Province called Al Asad au Natural. He's a longtime member of Columbus Audubon Society in Ohio and did a good bit of birding while in Iraq. He is soon returning from deployment. Reading through the archives of Al Asad au Natural gives a great education into the natural world of Iraq both past and present. The entire archive is on the Columbus Audubon website.

I love the format of Al Asad au Natural. Maybe I can try something similar when I'm deployed. Time will tell.

Time to pack up the Binos and get a better camera.