Focus February 2002
It has been a hectic time recently for the ENHG in Abu Dhabi. David Bellamy
came on a week long visit: he was a keynote speaker in an Environmental
Conference in Dubai. He then visited Al Wathba Lake here in Abu Dhabi Emirate
and was brought up to date on the progress at this potentially amazing wetland
protected area. A good variety of birds and plants were seen and it is hoped to
gain access for members over the Inter-Emirates Weekend. Watch this space!
As members already know, it is the turn of Abu Dhabi to host the
Inter-Emirates Weekend and this year we are basing ourselves at the nicely
situated Mafraq Hotel, just outside the city. Please see separate article in
this newsletter, details on the excursions will be available at the next indoor
The annual general meeting of the group will be on 2nd April. Now is the time
to be nominated for the committee and put your ideas forward for the advancement
of the group. Hope that you can make this important date.
Steve James, Chairman of ENHG
This letter was written to the Chairman of the Al Ain Natural History Group.
Although we are not a fund raising organisation individual members may like to
contribute. I can confirm that the Born Free Foundation and the Game Reserve in
South Africa are of the highest order and worthy of your support.
"Dear Mr Holmes,
I was given your email by a Rachael Eddins a member of your group, I hope you
don't mind me contacting you.
I am a school teacher in Abu Dhabi who read about the plight of this poor
lioness, now in Dubai zoo. After hours of emailing every animal charity, to try
and find her a home, I eventually got a response from The Born Free Foundation.
After months of work we have found her a new home in Shamwari reserve in South
Africa. Our only task now is to raise the money to get her there. We need all
the help we can get! The paper work is just about finished and she can go in
March if we have sufficient funds. If your group could help us raise money in
any way, or if you know of anyone in Al Ain that would be interested in helping
us, please could you let me know.
For more details, please see www.britvet.com
Thank you for any help you can give, this one year old lioness deserves a new
and better life she can have one with our help!
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Besides the speaker at the Group meeting on Tuesday 2nd April, that meeting
will also be the Group's Annual General Meeting.
The AGM will precede the talk.
Paid-up Group members are invited to nominate people to serve on the
Committee for the next year, and also to put forward resolutions for discussion.
The majority of the current Committee members are prepared to stand again, but
new blood is always welcome!
Nominations for the Committee should include the name of a proposer and
seconder, while resolutions for discussion should also have a proposer and
Please send any nominations or resolutions to the Chairman, Steve James, or
to any other committee member prior to the meeting itself.
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This years Inter-Emirates Weekend is on 11th/12th April at the Mafraq Hotel
near Abu Dhabi. This is a very convenient location for all, being just over an
hours drive from Dubai and Al Ain and a thirty minute drive for Abu Dhabi
members. It is also convenient for our excursions (more details to follow
- Single Occupancy: 150 dhs per room per night
- Double Occupancy: 200 dhs per room per night
- Triple Occupancy: 250 dhs per room per night
These prices are subject to 16% service charge and inclusive of buffet
Up to 2 children below 12 years old and sharing parents room will be
accommodated free of charge, with a nominal charge for breakfast of 15 dhs +
BBQ Dinner is 55 dhs + service charge.
Lunch Boxes for Friday can be arranged at 40 dhs net.
Please ring 02-5822666 and ask for reservations. Inform them of your
requirements about accommodation, dinner and packed lunch. Make sure you state
Emirates Natural History Group when you are booking, if you forget the rates
will be higher! Please then contact me by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org stating
your contact details and how many is in your party. I can then follow up with
excursion choices and further information etc.
I would urge all Abu Dhabi members to stay at the Hotel, past experience has
shown that if you stay in your own home you miss out on a lot of the informal
activity and chat. After all, one of the nicest things about the weekend is to
meet new faces and exchange information.
However, if this is not possible the dinner on Thursday may be booked through
the Hotel. Just make sure they know it is dinner only! Thursday and Fridays
programme will be circulated in the next few days. Hope you can join us for what
should be a great weekend!
Steve James (Chairman of ENHG).
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All the following excursions are confirmed. Wherever possible members should
book their excursions in advance by e-mailing Steve James at:
We have tried to stagger timings on Thursday for people's different arrival
times; all times are the times leaving the Mafraq Hotel.
Here is a little more information to help you decide.
Al Wathba Lake Birdwatching / Spotlighting on Fodder Fields: 2.30pm,
If this is a popular trip, it may be possible to have a second departure at
3.30pm with a different leader.
PLEASE NOTE: to gain access to Al Wathba Lake Protected Area it is essential
to include your name as written on your passport; your passport number &
nationality to be received by Steve at least 10 days prior to the trip.
Al Wathba is an excellent spot for waders and wildfowl, as well as for
Greater Flamingoes. A good variety of migrant waders should be present & the
leader (s) will conduct a mini workshop on their identification. Participants
should bring binoculars and if possible telescopes. However the leader (s) will
have a telescope to share with members.
Later in the afternoon we will drive the short distance to the fodder fields,
as it gets dark, spotlighting should reveal either Egyptian or European
Nightjars and a few waders which feed on the fields at night. It is also
possible to see Gerboa and Red Fox, but neither is guaranteed. Back in time for
For those who arrive too late to take part on this trip, it will be repeated
on Friday afternoon. When booking, please state which day you would like to
Boat Trip off Raha Beach area into the channels & mangroves of eastern
Abu Dhabi Island: 3.30pm, Thursday.
Limited to 15 people. Cruising down the channels a good selection of seabirds
& waders will be seen. Possibility of Green Turtle and Indo-Pacific
Humpbacked Dolphin sightings. There maybe photographic opportunities. Leader
will work closely with all participants to ensure individual attention.
Cost 20 dhs.
Desert Ecology & Mammal Catching Trip: 3.30pm, Thursday & 8.30pm
Focus is on desert ecology: mammals, birds, reptiles & plants. Good
photographic opportunities here. On the Thursday trip we will be taught how to
set small mammal traps, these do not hurt the animal & all animals caught
are promptly released. Cheeseman's Gerbil is a strong possibility on this trip.
Fridays trip will be a longer affair exploring further into the desert.
Participants should have four wheeled drive vehicle. Please state which trip or
both when booking.
Astronomy: 6pm Thursday & 3.30am Friday.
Please note these are short trips from the Hotel and the Friday timing is not
a typing error!!
Thursday evening trip will look at the planets showing well at this time
(Venus, Mars Saturn & Jupiter). Friday's trip will look for the comet Ikeya
Zhang, which should be visible after 4am. Members on this trip may of course
combine with a later excursion on the Friday (if they have the energy)!
Participants should bring binoculars but the leader will have a high powered
telescope to share.
Futaisi Island: 8.30am, back by 2pm or you may stay on the island all day
Boat trip to the island and tour of island either on foot or in a van. Wide
variety of birds, Sand Gazelle and Spiny tailed Lizards all easy to see. Very
good photographic opportunities on this trip.
Members who decide to stay longer may use the swimming pool.
Cost is 50 dhms per person; 25 dhms for children over 12years and free for
children under 12. This includes a 25 dhm voucher for food and drink at their
outlet on the island.
Birdwatching at Al Wathba Fodder Fields: 8.30am, back by 2pm on Friday.
An in depth look at the varied bird life of these very productive fields. A
good variety of migrants should be seen and a bird list of over 60 species is
possible. Participants should have their own binoculars and the leader will have
a telescope to share.
Dhow Trip from the Intercontinental Hotel, Abu Dhabi: 8.30am, back by 2pm.
Cruising the channels west of Abu Dhabi Island. Many seabirds & waders
will be seen and both Green Turtle and Indo-Pacific Hump backed Dolphins are a
possibility. On one island, Mountain and rarely Sand Gazelle may be seen along
with Arabian Hare. Good photographic opportunities & a very relaxing way to
see the natural history of this region.
Cost 80 dhms per person.
Please address all queries and bookings to Steve James.
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Our group was a small one this time: only five members and a dog, in three
vehicles. Vicki and Maria, Roy and Chirri, Pam and myself. We set off from
Popeyes' at 8.15, and after a refuelling stop at Seih Bin Ammar, we were quickly
through Al Ain and into the Wilaya of Buraimi. We stopped to examine the two
types of acacia on the outskirts of Mahdah. The only tree that we saw in bloom
was in a garden and obviously benefiting from the water supplied by the
irrigation. Usually we can expect to find white (or buff) bloom on the Acacia
tortilis, and yellow on the Acacia ehrenbergiana around this time of year. The
road from Mahdah to Sharm has colonies of both in the same area, but there has
been very little rain. Thence to Wadi Khudayrah via a difficult climb from the
main road, requiring speed and low ratio. The wadi was flowing as usual and
there was a group of young men swimming in the gorges. Sadly, the litter problem
is getting worse. The wadi is awash with detritus from picnics and barbecues.
When will we ever learn? We lunched by the pools, found wild oleander in bloom,
and some struggling maidenhair fern. The lack of rain meant that few wadi
flowers were in evidence on the wadi floor. How long can a wadi fig hold on
Next towards the Madam roundabout through the mountains behind Jebel Sumayni.
We visited the Wadi Suq tombs at Jebel Buhays. The tomb which attracts most
interest is the Clover Leaf (no. 66) which has four separate chambers
underground. The Madam Plain area was heavily populated in antiquity due to the
run-off from the Hajar Mountains not far away, allowing cultivation of a variety
of crops. As it was getting perilously close to tea-time we drove behind the
mountain to find a camping spot in one of the branches of Wadi Faya. There were
plenty of dead Sodom Apple bushes (Calotropis procera) which meant that we had
ample firewood to keep us warm. We were lucky with the night sky, which offered
views of the Milky Way and the moons of Jupiter. We saw few rodents and
suspected that it was the influence of Chirri the dog who in his capacity of
camp guard, kept them away. Chirri demonstrated his intelligence by weedling his
way around each member in turn and earning himself a five-course supper!
On awakening we found that we had had numerous rodents and lizards around the
camp during the night, and that Vicki had a flat tyre, so that was the first job
to attend to. Soft sand makes these operations quite hazardous. However, we
completed the job, breakfasted, and turned our attention to Plain Tigers. This
butterfly reproduces with the aid of the Sodom Apple in this area. There were a
few butterflies in evidence, but neither eggs nor caterpillars. Roy spotted at
least two pairs of Palestine Sunbirds and we were happy following their antics
for a while.
Next the fossils. We drove over to the mountain, found a shady place for
lunch under a group of acacias, but failed to find large numbers of obvious
fossils. By chance we took a different way back to the main road and found
dozens of them on the east side of the mountain, together with a large group of
burial sites from the fourth century BC. Leaving Jebel Buhays behind we found a
way down Wadi Faya along a new tarmac road via Rashidia to the Dhaid-Sharjah
highway. The new Emirates Road got us home to AD by six o'clock.
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Pectoral Sandpiper is a very rare vagrant to the Middle East. One has been
present at Wimpey Pits, near Dubai for most of this winter; this is only the
second record for the UAE. The best time to see this bird is in late afternoon,
when it comes to bathe at the pits. A keen eye and a good telescope will
increase your chances of success!
This species breeds in Northern Siberia, across into the New World in Alaska
and Arctic Canada. The Siberian range is very extensive and yet the vast
majority of these birds winter in South America, not eastern Asia. Only a small
number winter in Australia and New Zealand. This probably indicates a fairly
recent range expansion into the Old World and a reluctance to change ancient
The North American birds migrate in a great circle route over the Western
Atlantic Ocean. These birds are prone to be blown off course by strong westerly
winds and can turn up in Western Europe as vagrants. What does it look like?
Take a look at Paul Kelly's picture below! The bird is still present at the time
of writing, so why not go and have a look? Even if you don't see it, you will
record an excellent selection of other water birds in and around the pits.
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Description and origin on the mountains
The northern mountains stretch some 650 km from Musandam to Sur, in a range
up to 140 km across. The geological origin of the rocks is complex and there are
many issues still undecided by the geologists, but the basic series of events is
fairly well worked out. The mountains contain four major rock groups. The
deepest layer is a series of old (pre-Permian) shales and crystalline rocks.
Above these, and continuing beneath the desert surface to the south and west of
the mountains is a sedimentary sequence of hard limestones and dolomites that
were laid down under a shallow sea in thick beds between the mid-Permian and the
Cretaceous. These rocks are the main oil reservoirs under the desert. Overlying
these are a diverse series of sedimentary rocks (called the Hawasina) that were
mainly deposited as deep sediments below an ancient ocean called the Neo-Tethys,
which lay to the north east of Arabia. Overlying these in turn is the Semail
ophiolite, volcanic rocks formed as ocean crust on the floor of the Neo-Tethys
between 105 and 70 m years ago. Both the Hawasina and the ophiolite were moved
into their present positions by a stacking process that also occurred between
105 and 70 mya caused by plate movements. The actual mountain building period
was more recent, occurring in the Oligocene between about 30 and 40 mya. At this
time the Indian plate started to collide with the southern edge of Eurasia,
forming the Himalayas, and Arabia was separated from Africa by the opening of
the Red Sea. The Zagros mountains on the other side of the Arabian Gulf are even
more recent, being formed only about 5 mya.
Jebel Akhdar, the 'green mountain' is the highest and most diverse section of
the mountains. Jebel Akhdar is basically a simple box-shaped fold (anticline)
pushed up to over 3000 m above sea level. Over the past 30 million years the
processes of erosion have carved the mountains into their present shape. These
erosional forces have removed the top of the fold and the overlying ophiolite
and Hawasina rocks, so that the higher areas are the tilted beds of hard
limestones. The fold can be clearly seen in the rising slabs of limestone above
Samail and along the Jebel Shams road, and on the northern side of the
mountains, in the slabs rising above Awabi and Rustaq. The centre of the fold
has been removed by erosion which has scooped out the softer pre-Permian shales
in a series of huge bowls such as the Gubrah bowl and Wadi Sahtan, and deep
wadis such as Wadi Bani Auf and Wadi Bani Kharus. The erosion of the tilted
limestone strata give rise to characteristic upward pointing slabs. The highest
summits lie on the southern section of the decapitated fold. The variation in
topography is important to the animals and plants as it provides different
habitats. In particular the southern flanks of the mountains are made up of
relatively gently tilted slabs, which are cut by impressive gorges such as Wadi
Nakhir. The north facing side is a series of almost sheer well-shaded cliffs,
falling into the central bowls and wadis.
Climate and biogeography
The mountains are high enough to generate their own climate. For example
northerly winds in late winter give a build up of cumulus clouds on the
mountains. These form fog which is probably used by plants such as juniper
trees, to obtain extra moisture. Generally an increase in altitude results in
the climate becoming cooler and wetter. Above about 2500 m there may even be
occasional snow, though this melts quickly when the sun comes out. Winter frosts
are common, certainly from 2000 m and upwards. However, even with the extra
rain, the mountains are semi-arid, with Saiq receiving a mean annual rainfall of
little over 300 mm. This is exacerbated by the lack of soil and sparse
vegetation, causing much of the rain to immediately run off into the wadis,
producing the familiar floods lower down.
This cooler, wetter climate acts as a refuge from the hot and very dry
conditions found at lower altitudes, allowing plants and animals adapted to
relatively more temperate conditions to survive. Indeed the flora and fauna have
close links with those of the mountains of Iran and Baluchistan. This is very
different from the Dhofar mountains, which have links are mainly with the Yemen
and Horn of Africa. Woodlands of juniper (Juniperus polycarpos) together with
their associated plant species such as Ephedra pachyclada, the rockrose
Helianthemum lippii and Berberis baluchistanica are found in the mountains of
southern Iran, as well as above about 2400 m on Jebel Akhdar. Similarly Jebel
Akhdar forms the most southerly limit to the ranges of certain animals such as
the false horned viper Pseudocerastes persicus which is found above about 500 m.
This is a venomous species, easily recognised by the relatively short and thick
body and the 'horns' above the eyes. Geckos of the genus Asaccus are restricted
to parts of Iran and Iraq, and the northern Oman mountains. There are now three
species of these geckos known in Jebel Akhdar including Asaccus platyrhynchus
and Asaccus montanus, both of which have been recently described as new to
science. Asaccus montanus is a tiny gecko found only on the higher parts of the
range above about 2000 m. An avian example is the wood pigeon, the nearest
populations to those in Jebel Akhdar being in the Iran and Baluchistan
The mountains have of course long been inhabited by people. In the northern
wadis villages, such as Bilad Sayt, are found along a spring line at the base of
the north facing cliffs. Water from the springs is carefully used for
cultivation of many crops using terraces and the falaj system, or now sometimes
galvanised pipes. At least at higher altitudes such temperate crops as grapes,
roses, pomegranates, walnuts and apricots are all successfully grown.
Away from the larger springs and aflaj, people live in smaller communities of
a few families or even in isolated huts, getting their water from rain filled
pools in deep gorges, or in specially constructed cisterns. Recently a series of
dams have been built to increase the water supply to these isolated villages. At
these higher altitudes away from the large villages, people subsist by raising
sheep and goats rather than growing crops. The wool is hand spun and woven into
colourful rugs. Before the construction of roads transport between the
communities was by foot or donkeys, and pack donkeys are still used in some
parts of the mountains. A well constructed system of paths existed, and there
are several flights of ancient stone steps up the mountains, though to have been
built by the Persians. Sadly, many of the paths are now in a state of disrepair,
but they are still the easiest way over the mountains, particularly on the steep
As the human population is low, people have had relatively little impact on
the flora and fauna; at least in comparison to other dry mountains such as those
in Ethiopia and Somalia. The juniper woodlands are still intact and there has
probably been little human impact on the smaller animals. The larger mammals
have not fared so well. A common site in the mountains are stone wolf traps.
These are no longer in use, and certainly wolves (Canis lupus) are now very rare
in the mountains. The last Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr) recorded in
Jebel Akhdar was one between Awabi and Nakhl in 1976, and the last record of an
ibex (Capra ibex) in the northern mountains was one shot near Ibri in the 1960s.
There are still mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella) which range right to the
summit of Jebel Shams, though these are either very rare or very shy or both.
The large mammal unique to the mountains is the Arabian tahr, Hemitragus
jayakari. a small type of wild goat. These have survived much better, especially
since the ban on hunting and the establishment of the Wadi Serin nature reserve.
Tahr seem to like precipitous mountain faces such as the northern side of Jebel
Aswad, where they are looked after trained rangers. However tahr are shy and
very rarely seen. Indeed, the only large mammal that one commonly sees and hears
in the mountains are the feral donkeys.
The lower wadis
Water tends to flow through the lower wadi gravels throughout the year, even
if no water is visible on the surface. This supports a woody vegetation of
species such as Acacia tortilis, Ziziphus spina-christi and Moringa peregrina.
In turn these support a range of animals. For example, at least eight species of
lizards can be found in Wadi Halfayn, near Izki, at about 500 m asl. Each
species has its own niche in the ecology of the valley. This valley has a range
of microhabitats such as trees, gravel and stone screes and cliffs. There are
three closely related diurnal geckos in the genus Pristurus, also known as the
semaphore geckos from their tail waving signals. Pristurus gallagheri, endemic
to the Oman mountains is strictly arboreal, particularly favouring the Moringa
trees. It spends its time sitting on the trunks of the trees, darting out to eat
ants and other insects if they come close. They are excellently camouflaged
against the bark. P. celerrimus, another species unique to the Oman mountains
lives on the large boulders and vertical rock walls at the edge of the wadi,
while P. rupestris, the commonest lizard in Oman, favours the rocky ground and
scree slopes. So although these three lizards are active at the same time and
are about the same size, they avoid competition with each other by living in
different microhabitats. The large lacertid Lacerta jayakari forages amongst the
shrubs and rocks in the wadi floor. The blue tailed Lacerta cyanura prefers rock
slabs and cliffs.
At night, different animals are active, such as Asaccus gallagheri (another
endemic gecko to the mountains) and Hemidactylus persicus. This species has a
distribution mainly in Iran, but has a giant race in Jebel Akhdar. Brandt's
hedgehog (Paraechinus hypomelas) is the mountain hedgehog of Arabia and Iran.
This is a very black animal, the spines being black tipped, with contrasting
white ears. It is a rather bad tempered beast, and hisses and bucks when
disturbed. In contrast the Ethiopian hedgehog (Paraechinus aethiopicus) of the
sandy lowlands is paler, with its spines largely being white tipped. It behaves
very differently, and neither bucks nor hisses. Also active at night are the
scorpions. The most common of these at lower elevations is Hottentota jayakari.
Another nocturnal arachnid is the amblypygid (Phrynichus jakari), which despite
its appearance is quite harmless. Its body is highly flattened for sliding into
narrow cracks in the rocks. There are several species of bats, though these have
been very little studied. One is the mouse-tailed bat Rhinopoma muscatellum,
which lives in small groups in the numerous caves. The vipers are largely
nocturnal. Two species live in the mountains: the false horned viper already
mentioned and Burton's carpet viper (Echis coloratus). These two species both
hiss a warning but using different means. The false horned viper puffs its body
up with air and hisses as it exhales, while Echis throws its body into coils and
rubs ridged scales together.
In the spring time, especially if there has been good late winter rain, the
mountain flowers are at their best. One of the most spectacular is the endemic
primula Dionysia mira. Others are the very spiny Ebenus stellata, violet (Viola
cinerea), Verbascum akhdarensis, Polygala mascatense, Dianthus crinitus,
Geranium mascatense, Pseudogaillonia hymenostephana, Convolvulus ulicinius and
Euryops arabicus. Amongst the flowering shrubs are Berberis baluchistanicus
which is found above 2500 m, Dodonea viscosa, the honeysuckle Lonicera aucheri
which can form a large shrub 3 m tall with yellow flowers, and Daphne mucronata.
By late summer, there are very few flowers to be seen.
The trees on the mountain show altitudinal zonation. The wadi bottoms and
lower slopes have Acacia tortilis, Ziziphus, Moringa and Maerua, but higher on
the mountains, different trees occupy different altiduninal belts. Acacia
gerardii replaces A. tortilis above about 1000 m. At about 1500 m the olive
(Olea europaea) becomes the dominant tree in many areas. A well developed browse
line may be seen on many olive trees, as the leaves are well liked by goats. On
the higher parts of the Saiq plateau, Olea forms a well developed parkland with
the grass Cymbopogon schoenanthus. At slightly higher altitudes the juniper zone
is reached. Juniper stands growing on exposed slopes between the lower limit of
juniper growth at 2000 m and 2400 m are often in very poor condition, with most
of the trees dead or dying. Above 2400 m the trees are in much better shape and
regenerating well in some areas. It seems that the juniper zone is moving higher
on the mountain, presumably due to climatic change (becoming warmer or drier or
both). At the highest altitudes, above 2700 m, juniper is the only tree species.
Juniper extends to much lower altitudes (about 1400 m) on the cooler and shaded
north facing cliffs. On these, a fairly dense mixed woodland develops.
On exposed ridges, junipers often have a low and broad shape. In more
sheltered spots and wadis, they can form tall trees, often with a conical shape
. The largest trees of all may reach about 20 m tall with trunk diameters of 3
m. These often seem to grow around the edge of flat, unwooded areas which are
found in several parts of the Jebel Akhdar. The largest of these areas is near
the summit of Jebel Kawr, which probably has the largest juniper trees in the
northern mountains. Another more accessible area is near Shanut on the Saiq
Plateau, to which there is now a new road. In these areas, the grass Cymbopogon
schoenanthus often forms strange rings as the plant slowly grows outwards and
dies back in the centre. This also occurs in some other arid land plants,
perhaps the best known being the North American creosote bush. The age of some
of these creosote bush rings is estimated to be several thousand years. The age
of the Cymbopogon rings is probably much less than that, but may well be several
hundred years. The high parts of the Jebel, especially in the juniper zone are
very beautiful and a wonderful place to visit. At the moment they are still
relatively undisturbed and unspoilt. Let us hope that they remain so.
Andrew S. Gardner
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This short article is a brief round up of the most important ornithological
activity in January. It is based upon Simon Aspinall and Peter Hellyer's
Twitcher's Guide, which may be found on the Internet or received by e-mail.
The year got off to an excellent start with the finding of a Merlin in the
Bab Oilfield. These days we rarely get records from these remote locations, but
every time someone goes to visit they turn up something good. More records from
the oil workers please, even if we can't get to see them!
The next day at Al Wathba Fodder Fields: 120 Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse came
to drink (always a fine sight). Other good birds included: an unseasonal
Collared Pratincole and 8 Corn Buntings. Back at Bab was a desert dwelling
Golden Eagle perched on a small outcrop.
On the 3rd there was a meeting of the Emirates Bird Record Committee at
Ghantoot and a quick look in the wood found a fine male Ring Ouzel, which showed
itself to half of the committee. This species is a rare visitor to the UAE and
was a new bird for two of the appreciative viewers.
On 6th the wintering Red-backed Shrike reappeared at the Intercontinental
Hotel in Abu Dhabi, this is the first time this species has wintered in the UAE.
Both Crested and European Honey Buzzards were floating around the city at this
time, affording good identification criteria for both species. Cattle Egrets
were common and reached 83 at the usual roost on the Eastern Lagoon.
A complete surprise on the 10th was an adult male Hen Harrier flying
leisurely over Airport Road; it was only seen because everybody was stationary
because of road works (sound familiar)? Also, high overhead was a Short-toed
Eagle over the Ice Skating Rink, obviously a good day for raptors!
The next day at Al Wathba a Merlin was seen, along with 2 Pallid Harriers. 14
Bimaculated Larks, 2 Oriental Skylarks and a Blyth's Pipit provided some
quality. The same day two Hume's Yellow Browed Warblers were seen at Mushrif
Palace Gardens together! One had been present since 2nd but to see two of this
rare species is extraordinary. Both were present until the month end. The
Goldfinch also started to show itself at this time and was present all month,
albeit very difficult to see.
A waterbird count at Al Wathba Lake on 15th produced 77 Black-necked Grebe,
95 Shelduck, 995 Shoveler and 40 Avocet: all excellent counts. The 2
White-fronted Geese along with the lone Grey Lag Goose remained in the capital
On 18th 4 Short-eared Owls and 4 Glossy Ibis were at the Al Wathba Fodder
Fields, both highly unusual records. A Masked Wagtail also showed itself.
A further visit to the same site on 30th produced a Sociable Plover, which
had been absent for several previous weeks. A female Hen Harrier and a nice
colourful male Namaqua Dove added spice. At least six Egyptian Nightjars showed
themselves on the track after dark.
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Steve James (Chairman)
Simon Aspinall (Deputy Chairman)
Wafa Morda (Secretary)
Hazim al Chalabi (Membership Secretary)
Peter Hellyer (editor of Tribulus)
Charles Laubach (Member at large)
Arleen Edwards (Sales)
Andrew Twyman (Sales)
Richard Perry (Member)
Arun Kumar (Treasurer)
Dick Hornby (Member at large)
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||Solar Energy in the UAE
||Archaeology in Ras Al Khaimah
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The following companies are supporting the ENHG's conservation efforts in the
region. Each company has made a commitment, each has made a difference and the
environment thanks them all. We hope you, as ENHG members will in turn support
these companies whenever you can.
Al Fahim Group
Al Sayegh Richards Butler
Hyder Consulting Middle East Limited
Jashanmal National Company
Mohammed Bin Masaood & Sons
Nama Development Enterprises
National Bank of Abu Dhabi
Ready Mix Abu Dhabi Limited
Simmons & Simmons
Trowers & Hamlins
Union National Bank
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