Middle East
13 Dec 2016

First breeding records of warblers, wheatear in Iraq

Juvenile White-crowned Wheatear, southern Iraq by: Laith Al-Obeidi
Juvenile White-crowned Wheatear, southern Iraq by: Laith Al-Obeidi
By Laith Ali Al-Obeidi
In recent years, Nature Iraq (BirdLife Partner) has recorded two breeding firsts in the country. In May 2012, I accompanied Richard Porter in bird surveys in Iraqi Kurdistan,in the ChamiRazan area northwest of the city of Sulaimani. It was here that we got our first sighting of Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus breeding; a pair were collecting food in low vegetation in an overgrown wooded stream. A few days later, Porter found another pair of Sedge Warblers and heard three singing males in riverine vegetation, including reeds, in Mawat area, north of Sulaimani city and close to the Iranian border.
Since then there have been some other interesting Sedge Warbler findings. In summer 2015, I found two pairs in the Central marshes, southern Iraq. The first pair was in Zichri marsh,Thi-Qar governorate and the second pair, at Baghdadiya lake, Chibaish district, Thi-Qar governorate. 
Similar findings of White-crowned Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga breeding in the country emerged as a result of a surveying projectco-ordinated between Nature Iraq and BirdLife International (AVJC Foundation project). The surveys were conducted in the Central marshes in the summers and winters of 2014 and 2015.
In May 2014, a juvenile White-crowned Wheatear was discovered in Zichri area, Basra governorate at an earth embankment which represents the eastern boundary of the Central marshes, Southern Iraq. A scientific paper describing the findings was published in Ornithological Society of the Middle East Magazine during 2016. The breeding of both species are related to the presence of suitable habitats in Iraq.