What’s become of Persian Gulf bird habitat?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2006:
SAN FRANCISCO–Iraq was known for attracting some of the
world’s largest and most varied congregations of migratory birds,
before becoming a war zone, and especially before former dictator
Saddamn Hussein drained the northern swamps to crush political foes.
Sergeant First Class Jonathan Trouern-Trend of the
Connecticut National Guard, 38, wondered what might be left when he
started a year-long deployment to Iraq in March 2004. He found many
species still thriving amid the destruction.
A birder since age 12, Trouern-Trend began a web log devoted
to his sightings in Iraq, continued with frequent postings until his
rotation home to Marlborough, Connecticut, in February 2005.
Excerpts from the web log were compiled as a book at the
suggestion of Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope, and
published by Sierra Club Books in May 2006 as Birding Babylon: A
Soldier’s Journal from Iraq.
While swamp restoration is underway in Iraq, and old
landmines and other disincentives to human use often cause former
no-man’s-land to become wildlife habitat by default, birders are now
anxious about the fate of the Khor al-Beidah lagoon in the United
Arab Emirates. The threat there is not war, but peace, prosperity,
“The Khor al-Beidah lagoon is a pristine tidal flat teeming
with wildlife, including endangered birds, sea turtles, and dugongs
who swim among its tangles of mangroves,” wrote Associated Press
correspondent Jim Krane from Um Al-Quwain in August 2005, then a
city of 35,000, but soon to be surrounded by a planned metropolis of
“The once empty Emirates coast is awash in construction that
has buried coral reefs, mangrove, and other wildlife zones,” Krane
lamented. “The tidal lagoon here is one of the last such areas in
“We’ve seen it happen everywhere else. When you start to
dredge and build marinas, that’s the end of it,” said Emirates Bird
Report author Colin Richardson, a 30-year resident of Dubai.