23/08/2007
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Basra Reed Warbler Returns... to Israel

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Basra Reed Warbler: (photo: A F A Hawkins/BirdLife).

The only recorded breeding population of Basra Reed Warbler found outside of Iraq has been confirmed in Israel by conservationists at SPNI (BirdLife in Israel).

After the discovery last year of four individual reed warblers in Israel's Hula Valley, SPNI have this year announced the return of three of these ringed individuals, along with one unmarked adult - confirmation that Basra Reed Warbler does indeed breed in Israel.

"It is remarkable that all three adults ringed last year returned to the same site after probably spending the winter in East Africa," said Itai Shanni of SPNI.

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Since the discovery, further reed warblers have since shown up: in early June at least two family groups with at least one fledgling were seen, later followed by three males and an individual female.

"Given these two years' data, we now assume that this species is indeed breeding within this site." said Shanni.

Normally restricted as a breeding bird to the Mesopotamian marshes of southern Iraq (and likely in southwest Iran), Basra Reed Warbler has undergone very rapid, and continuing, declines owing to extensive drainage of its wetland breeding habitat. Although significant areas of the Iraq's marshes are now being re-flooded, the species remains listed as Endangered by BirdLife.

SPNI are now initiating further monitoring of the species' distribution in the region and are working to ensure the breeding area in Israel – a set of private fish ponds near Agmon Lake- is afforded some degree of protection.

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Written by: BirdLife International