To: John Leonard <>
Subject: Hypocoulis
From: Tom Tarrant <>
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2003 15:35:10 +1000
Hi John and b'ausers,

I was fortunate to find Hypocolius (note spelling) whilst working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia nearly a decade ago, they are a winter visitor there and (I believe) migrate to Iran and central Asia in summer, they are a rather charming species and can often be found in small thorn bushes where they make a 'siffling' call not unlike a Eurasian Wigeon. They can be rather hard to approach and will flush en-masse only to return to the same spot a few minutes later.

The species I feel most concern for though would have to be Basra Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus griseldis), during my stay in KSA I was fortunate to find 'hundreds' on my local 'patch' and managed to get some video of the species and their (unique) vocalizations. Unfortunately since then I understand good old Saddam has 'drained' the Basra marshes to 'ethnically-cleanse' the area of the local (shi-itte) marsh arabs, and probably wiped out the entire species.
It would be interesting if anyone could provide any update to this info.

Tom Tarrant

John Leonard wrote:

When watching pictures of the war in Iraq one of my first thoughts was Hypocoulis.

This is a taxanomic oddity, a medium-sized bird which appears to be unrelated to any other, and at various times has been linked with the shrikes, waxwings and bulbuls.

The Tigris and Euphrates river-valleys in Iraq are its main summer range. Does anyone know what its conservation status is? Might it be endangered by the war? (My understanding is that its habitat is scrub and cultivation, not marshland, so the destruction of the marshes on the lower Tigris and Euphrates may not have affected it).

John Leonard

Tom & Marie Tarrant
Samsonvale, Queensland 4520


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