Tuesday 11 June 2024


A nice morning around the various sites of Birecik gave us our first of many Dead Sea Sparrows at our first stop just 10 minutes up the road from the hotel. A Syrian Woodpecker was rather confiding and a drake Red-crested Pochard was on the Euphrates close to us. 

Red-crested Pochard

Syrian Woodpecker

Then we drove around to the opposite bank of the river where we were thrilled to get the views of Iraq Babbler we all craved, with a small group hanging around the reeds right in front of us.

Iraq Babbler is pretty common along the Euphrates River near Birecik

We notched up some other great sightings with our only sighting of Black-bellied Sandgrouse, with a  group of 10 flying over, along with a flock of Armenian Gulls, Pygmy Cormorants, European Roller, 5 European Turtle Doves were perched on wires, Alpine Swift, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Delicate Prinia, Moustached Warbler for some of the group, 11 Rose-coloured Starlings flew over in a tight formation, and we had 4 more Dead Sea Sparrows. A flock of 88 Northern Bald Ibis fed on the riverbank, and it was a shame the calling Black Francolin couldn’t be seen.


After another fine field breakfast we drove downriver and scoped a few Armenian Gulls loafing on the river before checking out another site south of the bridge, where Eastern olivaceous Warbler posed nicely, and Cetti’s Warbler and Common Nightingale were seen, along with another pair of Dead Sea Sparrows

Little (Lillith's) Owl

This area was Lark Central..!

So with most of the local specialities seen well we drove north and amidst splendid scenery of rolling, rocky hills we found a pair of European Rollers, Little Owl (Lillith’s), both Greater and Mediterranean Short-toed Larks, Calandra Lark, a pair of Short-toed Eagles and a cracking Bimaculated Lark

Bimaculated Lark - look at that bill...!

Mediterranean Short-toed Lark

After passing through a military checkpoint, we were given a stern warning about only having an hour in the area due to potential unrest from Kurdish rebels, so that put us under a bit of pressure.

This Short-toed Eagle flew low over the road

Then we twitched a sighting of Kurdish Wheatear from a site 3 hours away which was a lifer for all of us – but again it proved to be, how should I say…? Rubbish!!. The site was very good for sightings of See-See Partridge, and other species seen included Chukar, 10 White Storks, Eurasian Jackdaw, 3 Pale Rockfinch and Corn Bunting. Finsch’s Wheatear was by far the most numerous species here and we estimated at least 20 pairs in the area.


On the drive back to Birecik we made a short diversion to look for Red-wattled Lapwing without any success and ended up having an 8pm dinner at the same great restaurant as last night on the banks of the Euphrates Cheers!.

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