A large number of bird species have been recorded in Azraq, most of which are migratory. Jordan lies on the main migration route between Russia and Africa, and many birds stop in Azraq to rest on their long journey. Several birds of prey stop to drink and hunt at the pools on their autumn migration, such as the Honey Buzzard and Montague’s Harrier. Other migratory birds include the Ruff, Avocet, Little Stint, Kentish Plover, and the Little Ringed Plover.
Many species of birds stay for longer periods of time, making Azraq their winter home. One such species is the large, majestic Crane. In flight, the Crane looks enormous, with long wings, an outstretched neck and long projecting legs. You can often hear its loud, nasal trumpet blasts in the distance, announcing its advance. Cranes migrate in family flocks, flying in V-shaped formation or in a staggered line. In the spring, Cranes perform a grand courtship dance, in which they raise their plumes, make trumpeting noises and bow deeply. There are also many species of wintering ducks, including the Shelduck, Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon, and Mallard. In autumn or winter you may also spot the Coot, diving for plant stalks and small creatures.
With the restoration of the marshland, several species of birds have returned to breed in Azraq, such as the Hoopoe Lark, Cetti’s Warbler, the Desert Finch and the Marsh Harrier. The salt mounds formed in the mudflats in the dry season provide important areas for breeding birds. The sighting of one breeding pair of Marbled Teal - a rare, globally threatened bird - was a particularly exciting discovery.
EXPERIENCE LOCAL CULTURE
The People of Azraq:
The Azraq area has a rich cultural history due to its strategic location and water resources. It was used as a station for pilgrims traveling to Mecca and Medina, as well as a military site for many armies. Today there are two villages near the Reserve. Interestingly, both villages were initially established by people fleeing religious persecution in their homelands.
North Azraq is inhabited predominantly by Druze people, while south Azraq is inhabited by Chechens.
Both groups of villagers traditionally depended on the wetlands, which provided them with water for farming and grazing areas for their buffalo and horses. As the wetlands dried up, the villagers moved to service-based occupations, such as providing restaurants and shops along the Saudi Arabia-Iraq highway. Salt extraction from Qa’a Al-Azraq continues to provide jobs for several village families.
The Druze and Chechen Cultural Experience:
Experience traditional food and explore the local Druze lifestyle. A traditional meal with one of the two tribes is prepared. Visit the local town and farms, and discover nature-inspired handicrafts.
For further tour information, contact the RSCN Headquarters at:
Telefax: + 962 6 4616523/4616483.
For bookings in the Azraq Area, contact the Azraq Wetlands Reserve at: Telefax: +962 3 3835225.