During the summer of 2008, the American ornithologist Robert J Timmins was commissioned by the American aid organisation USAID to compile an inventory of bird species in the Badakshan province in north-eastern Afghanistan. He managed to record the call of a species of bird that was as yet unknown.
In their previous study Svensson, Olsson and co-workers had pinpointed North-Eastern Afghanistan as an area where the Large-billed Reed Warbler probably bred in the 1930s. When both the Swedish colleagues heard the recording of the mysterious birdsong they realised that they were on the trail of an ornithological sensation.
"That's why it's vital that we protect both the species and its habitat now," says Urban Olsson.Facts:
There is a short, pale streak above the eye, apart from which the bird lacks any distinctive features. The bird's name indicates that it has a long beak, somewhat longer in terms of its proportions than that of Swedish reed warblers. Furthermore the wings are short and rounded, while the tail feathers are quite long.
The species was found in the Wakhan region in the province of Badakshan in north-eastern Afghanistan. The Wakhan region forms a 300km-long corridor up to the Himalayas, which runs between Tajikistan, Pakistan and China. The area is known for its rich birdlife, but is extremely difficult to access for field studies due to the ongoing conflicts. Accessing the region also takes several days' travel.
Helena Aaberg | idw
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