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In June 2012, as part of a Nature Iraq conservation programme, I spent two days surveying birds and other wildlife on the slopes of Shirin mountain (36.94° N 44.20° E), above the town of Barzan, Iraqi Kurdistan, close to the border with Turkey. On 8 June 2012 at c1780 m asl, I noticed two Lesser Grey Shrikes Lanius minor, which I quickly realised were a pair, actively catching insects and carrying them to what I presumed was a nest site in an oak Quercus aegilop. Oaks, mostly scattered, but also in fairly dense patches, were the dominant tree on the rocky slopes (Plate 1). I watched the shrikes for over an hour as they hunted grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Caelifera), taking them to the nest site. The birds spotted the grasshoppers from a prominent look-out at the top of a Pistacia eurycarpa (Plates 2, 3). The pair made at least five visits to the nest site during the hour. I made a cursory look for the nest, which appeared to be c4–5 m above the ground, but I could not locate it looking up through the dense foliage and I didn’t want to draw attention to it as a shepherd boy seemed curious about my activities. On the following day, 9 June, the pair was still taking food to the nest site, regularly from 07.00–at least 10.00 h. During this time I located another pair c200 m away, which were engaged in full courtship with much bowing and tail raising by the male; nearby a third male was singing, which suggests they were breeding in a loose group. Lesser Grey Shrike is sometimes solitary, but more typically breeds in neighbourhood groups of 3–7 pairs (Cramp & Perrins 1993).
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Nature Iraq Organization, will celebrate this year's WMBD in the National Park as the area is one of the most important wetlands in the Middle East and the globe that receives many migratory and threatened bird species.
An educational lecture about 2016 theme will be given to audience representing youth, NGOs, activists and other stakeholder from the National Park in Southern Iraq, also awareness campaign for school students, distribution of brochures on the subject, As well as screening of the short film. In addition to the theme, the lecture will include a brief about the use of field equipment and awareness about the sensitive hotspots and species that require special conservation attention a long with talks about the importance of the area in general for the next generation.
Bnwar Rzgar Abdulrahman