Sunday 3 August 2014


The Dukan area is about 60 minutes drive outside Sulaimani. Features include a very large lake with hydro electirc plant. Down stream there is an ice cold river runnig through Dukan town. I only had time to bird the town area. Thanks to my non-birding friend Steve K for accompanying me.

The lake area is actually well recorded and has some very interesting birds. If I ever return to Kurdistan that would be my first stopping point next time round.

However on July 26th we birded the town area. 

large white headed gull

One of the first birds seen was very difficult. It was a large white headed gull and I couldn't identify it properly.  The photos aren't the best but the default gull in this part of the country at this time of year suggested Armenian gull

The eye is very dark for a yellow legged gull which would be a very rare over-summering bird. Similarly the gonys (red patch on the bill) is very large for a Caspian gull which would also need to be over-summering.

I placed it on the birdforum identification forum and the consensus is that it is indeed an Armenian gullIt has a very weak black sub-teminal band while most Armenian gull have a strong one. However this apparantly can often disappear with age. 

River at Dukan

The water in the river was cold producing a natural cooling effect in the valley. It was not surprising then that I saw so many northerly species close to the river particualrly in the shade.


When I sat inside a small glade chasing golden oriole, I managed to photograph resting goldfinch and great tit. For an hour beforehand I had failed to photograph the goldfinch out in the open as they flitted back and forth into the shade. 

great tit

I didn't see a great tit in the open at all.

blackbird crossing the river

Some of the best birding results were achived by watching birds break cover to rapidly cross the river from one side to the other. I saw blackbird and jackdaw this way.

Upstream from the bridge in the town were some of the best birds but the photogrpahic possiblitites were poor as I was looking directly into the sun. There were red rumped swallow hawking over the river for insects most of the day. Briefly a few barn swallow joined them but moved on.

Mid morning,a mixed flock of blue cheeked bee-eater and European bee-eater visited. At the same time the only bird of prey seen on the whole trip soared above. it was a short toded eagle.

white eared bulbul

Although many of the psecies here were northerly birds at the southern edge of the range. Two species were the other way round. That is to say southerly species towards the north of their range. These were white eared bulbul and graceful prinia.

graceful prinia

While I was photographing the graceful prinia, a single European reed warbler flushed out of the small clump of bull rushes near-by. You just see one of the rush stems in the photo.

Other notable birds were a single white throated kingfisher seen flying upstream and two pied kingfisher spotted at different times and oplaces along the river. Unfortunately none of the three birds stopped to perch.

The next blog looks at my second visit to Tanjaro river in Sulaymani where I found the second lifer of my visit to Kurdistan.

Species seen at Dukan  I = addition to my Iraqi list

Short toed eagle I
Armenian gull  I
Feral pigeon
Collared dove
Laughing dove
White throated kingfisher I
Pied kingfisher  I
Blue-cheeked bee-eater  I
European bee-eater  I
Golden oriole  I
Jackdaw  I
Northern raven
White eared bulbul  I
Great tit   I
Crested lark
Red rumped swallow  I
Barn swallow
Graceful prinia
European reed warbler  I
Blackbird   I
House sparrow
Golfinch I

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