March 6, 2007
I recently saw a brief item in the Washington Post about a first-ever Field Guide to the Birds of Iraq, and found it via a unique soldier's blog, Birding Babylon. For a country that has been subjected to so much evil and torment, this is wonderful news. Believe it or not, "387 bird species ... have been recorded in Iraq." As I mentioned one year ago, the restoration of the vast wetland region of the lower Euphrates River has been one of the biggest achievements of the liberation of Iraq. Saddam Hussein had drained the marshes in order to attack the Shiite "Marsh Arabs" who resisted his dictatorship, and the wildlife suffered greatly.
A letter to the editor in the News Leader a couple days ago complained about the U.S. Navy's plans to build a training site for fighter jets near Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach. It would be near a wildlife refuge, where many migratory birds pass through every year. Can't they find a less damaging location?
I saw a half dozen or so Cedar waxwings out back yesterday, the first of that species I had seen since last October. They are unpredictable in their migration patterns, but ordinarily we would expect to see them at least every few weeks during the winter, so the recent absence is quite unusual. It is still cold as the dickens...