- My name is Pieter Paul, I am a Biologist. I live and work in the Netherlands. This year in June I have made a journey, to watch birds and to record their sounds in various wetlands in the Middle-East. I have visited the Shadegan Marshes in Iran and Ammiq Swamp in Lebanon and Sultan Sazligi Marshes in Turkey. My first aim was to visit the remote Shadegan Marshes in the far South-West part of Iran.The wetland is very close the Iraqi border, and formed one of the most important battlefield of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980-87.
I knew I would be totally helpless in this rural area, where hardly anyone speaks English. A guide with a good understanding of English, Persian and Arabic wouldn’t be much of a luxury thing.. Since the Arabs are by far the largest ethnic minority in this area. I found Tirdaad on the site of Birding Pal. From the very first moment he showed his enthousiasm and did his utmost best to arrange the necessary permits to enter this ‘political sensitive’ area. As soon as I arrived in Teheran all the permits and flight tickets were ready. Everything was arranged really well and the next morning we were ready to fly to Ahvaz in the South-West. We stayed about three days in Ahvaz and about four days in Shadegan. Everyday we left very early in the morning, to reach the wetland as early as possible to avoid the scorching heat and to be ready when the birds wake up. Without Tirdaad this would be shear impossible. He arranged everything, from a good hotel, taxis to a boat with a local Arabic guide in the wetland. With the help of Tirdaad, as an outstanding translator, I was able to speak (and to have a lot of fun!) with the very hospitable local arabs living in little villages next to the wetland.
I guess I realized it even more afterwards: how difficult this would have been to do this on my own. Because of all his efforts I have been able to see a lot of birds and to make many beautiful recordings. Among them there is the song of the ‘Basrah Reed Warbler’ (acrocephalus Griseldus) a very rare, endemic breeder in this area. But Tirdaad gave me much more than only solutions for hundreds of practical problems. In the afternoon and early evening, when it was very hot to go outside we spent all the time talking about Iran. He made me see the beautiful things and the moderate sides of this country. He knows a lot, and I couldn’t imagine to get a better introduction to this beautiful and interesting country. I had a great time in Iran with Tirdaad, and i am very grateful for all his efforts that made my project successful.
Pieter Paul Pothoven