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focus January 2003

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EDITORIAL

All ENHG members are welcomed to 2003.

Many thanks to all of you who have paid up already, but subscriptions are due NOW. In order to keep our records straight, don't be at all surprised to be asked at the door of forthcoming meetings whether we have your contact details correct. This will help us greatly, so that when we stop sending you reminders about your annual sub. being overdue we can also knock you off our mailing list for the monthly newsletter, Focus, and the Group's journal Tribulus.

Alternatively, it will ensure you definitely continue to receive our high quality publications. Fair's fair? At 100dhs. for a whole family for the year it must be as good a value as you can find round here. It's the same price for individual members, but this still seems more reasonable than reasonable to the committee, and, of course, makes the maths easier for our treasurer).

Rest assured nobody is going to be refused entry of any of our lectures, of course, but note we do reserve the right to levy an entrance fee on non-members (although we've never done it in the 25 years since the Group was formed!). As for field excursions, however, only paid-up members are entitled to go on these and that is where, I'm afraid, we are going to stand firm. All excursions continue to be ably led by Allestree Fisher and are highly recommended for novice and expert alike. All of our excursions are advertised in the newsletter, but it is best to find out about the forthcoming programme by attending the evening meetings. You might well ask what do we do with all the money raised through your subscriptions, as well as through the generosity of our corporate sponsors, and here, therefore, is a potted answer.

Firstly, let it be stated categorically that nobody draws any salary or bursary of any kind. All our committee and others who help do so entirely voluntarily. Costs incurred are all those associated with goods and services supplied to members - thus speakers' expenses (when asked for), production and distribution of Tribulus, purchase of sales stock and equipment for use on field excursions (for example GPS, digital camera, telescope & tripod) and on events such as the inter-emirates weekends. The only situation where funds are spent otherwise concerns applications for assistance to the group's so-called 'Conservation Fund'. Peter Hellyer mentions some of the previous recipients of grants from this fund in his note in this issue of Focus entitled 'ENHG helps ADIAS airport dig', ADIAS being the latest recipient of just such an award.

Please note that the Conservation Fund is open for applications throughout the year and decides on the merits of projects on an individual basis as they come in. Locally based projects take priority, even if earlier support went overseas on a number of occasions. Proposals deemed worthy of the Group's support are offered a modest cash award.

Now, to our forthcoming lecture programme, John Newby kicked off the new year with a talk on 'Saharan wildlife', and this is to be followed by ERWDA plantman, Gary Brown, talking on the 21st on the 'Natural History of Kuwait'. For February we are pleased to note that two former ENHG chairmen will be speaking. On February 4th Dick Hornby will be addressing us on the 'Natural History of Spain', while on the 18th Steve James will engage us with 'Tales from the African Bush' - tall ones, no doubt. That takes us up to March when we expect to have Dubai NHG Gary Feulner talking on the Ru'us Jibal and Fred Launay on the work of WWF in the UAE.

That's all for now, so see you at the meetings.

Simon Aspinall, Chairman

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Don't Give Offence!

A cautionary tale reached the Focus team the other day from Brien Holmes, Chairman of the Al Ain ENHG. Apparently Brien was paying one of his regular visits to the delightful little Omani mountain village of Khutwa, not far from Al Ain, when he was accosted by a furious local lady who proceeded to complain loudly, volubly, and at great length about the offence being given to Khutwa villagers by visiting tourists from the UAE (and overseas).

The lady concerned was, in particular, steaming mad about the inappropriate clothing being worn by many of the female visitors - shorts, skimpy and low-cut tops etc., etc - just the kind of revealing wear that is most definitely unsuitable for a visit to a traditional mountain village.

Brien wasn't able to comprehend all of the Arabic, but also got the impression that there had been the occasional incident of semi-clad visitors engaged in steamy clinches being encountered by shocked Khutwa residents.

The main culprits, it seems, are tourists being brought to Khutwa by local tourist firm Arabian Adventures - and Brien will be writing a strong letter to the company to ask them to provide a bit of advice on a dress code and on cultural sensitivities to their customers.

But the general message is one that it's worth repeating, again and again. When visiting mountain villages in the UAE and neighbouring parts of Oman, or wandering along the Corniche, for that matter, PLEASE give some thought to what you're wearing and how you behave, whether you're male or female. Offence is easily given, but a bit of forethought and consideration is much preferable!

By the way, lest anyone gets the idea that Khutwa residents are a backward lot, we should mention that a couple of former Group members, and their wives, rented a house in Khutwa for several years, going up there most weekends, and being welcomed into village life, despite their poor Arabic. But then these Group members showed a decent respect for the traditions and culture of their fellow villagers - and quite right too.

Khutwa, like many other UAE and Omani mountain villages, is a lovely place to visit. The villagers, by and large, are welcoming, as many Group members can testify. The ignorance, carelessness and thoughtlessness of visiting tourists (and the tour companies that bring them in) are eroding the welcome that so many of us have enjoyed. Let's make sure that no Group members behave the same way.

And, as for the Al Ain ENHG, they've now introduced a dress code for trips into the mountains. Members who fail to comply simply find themselves asked to drop out of the trip.

Peter Hellyer

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Where's Indy?

Volunteering at the Airport Archaeological Site

Remember the part in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," where Indiana Jones and his girlfriend use an ancient medallion to align the sun's rays, enabling them to open a tomb full of treasures? Well, forget that. Real archaeology is more like the part in the movie where all the workers are digging, filling buckets and emptying them, over and over and over...

Having spent ten days toiling away at the airport archaeological site (actually located at the nearby Al Ghazal Golf Club) as a volunteer, I now have a much better idea about what is involved in excavating archaeological sites, and certainly a greater appreciation for the long hard hours and rewards associated with such work.

Because any sort of digging irrevocably alters a given site, the first task of any archaeological team, obviously, is to survey the area in question properly. At the airport this involved volunteers walking through the site with blue and red-tagged nails - red for pottery, blue for flint. Each tag had a number, and my first day on the job was helping to find all those numbers (in order) and assisting while each nail's position on the globe was noted by surveyors from HILALCO. Hilalco gave generously of their time to survey the site for ADIAS. After that, we combed the site to find all the flint and pottery visible on the ground surface, bagging and tagging items found around each nail. As almost 400 individual nails were used, this took four of us worker bees three full days of work amid the dust and occasional flying golf ball. Glamorous, even dangerous, work indeed.

The next task involved laying a five-metre grid on one of the sites. Again a detailed survey was completed, finding not only the exact earthly location but also its altitude above sea level.

After this the truly hard work began, first by clearing off all the loose sand in the grid down to 15 cm. We then took our buckets of sand over to the sieving area, and each and every bucket was duly sieved. Sometimes I'd find something immediately (usually a piece of flint or pottery), other times I'd sieve eight or ten buckets, finding only stones.

Some days we were lucky, a slight breeze keeping much of the dust away. Whenever the wind dropped, though, the suffering started: with nowhere to blow, the dust covered us! At the end of the day, dust had penetrated every article of clothing, covered our eyelashes (and everything else) in gypsum.

We eventually found quite a few pieces of flint (300+) but at first weren't all that excited-believing that they were merely scrapings left behind from making flint tools. But we perked up considerably when ADIAS archaeologist Heiko Kallweit informed us that we'd found quite a few small tools - used for piercing holes in beads, for example. Percentage-wise, about 10% of the flint found while sieving was actually tools. All this took three days, with anywhere between three and six people sieving at once, so it often felt like we weren't accomplishing much!

Finally, after sieving five square metres of topsoil, we began digging, hoping to find further flint and pottery or organic matter to confirm whether previous surface finds were in situ or not. This involved going another 15 cm down, but didn't require any further sieving. In the event nothing further was found. Instead, we slowly cleared away sand, putting it in buckets and wheelbarrows, which we emptied 10 metres away. My shoulders were quite sore after 5-6 hours of shoveling and carrying buckets each day, for three days running.

All in all, a great experience and the time outdoors was a nice change, despite any discomforts along the way. Add to that the fact that there we were given some time off for good behaviour - and snakes, lizards and a variety of birds - the experience really wasn't that bad at all. I don't think I'll go into any kind of manual labour as a career, but it was interesting to find out what exactly is involved. And to gain, firsthand, a bit more respect and admiration for people who are patiently working to uncover our collective history.

Karen Cooper

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Mesquite Removal

Abu Dhabi residents can hardly have failed to notice the mass destruction of mesquite over the last few months-bushy, leguminous trees with dark green compound leaves of very small leaflets. Mesquite, or Prosopis juliflora, is an alien invader originally from Mexico but now well established in most of the hot dry parts of the world. One could argue that it is good to remove it because it will reduce competition for native species such as ghaf Prosopis cineraria and sidr Ziziphus spina-christi. The fact is, however, that mesquite is a hardier, more adaptable species than any of our native woody species, and it can establish itself and even thrive in places where nothing else can grow. It is highly drought resistant and is tolerant of saline and even polluted soils. We can expect, therefore, that if the policy of Abu Dhabi Municipality is to drastically reduce or even eliminate mesquite, the city will have a permanent reduction in natural (or at least unplanted) woody cover.

This will have serious consequences for the birdlife of Abu Dhabi, which uses mesquite extensively for nest sites, hunting for insects, roost sites and general cover, particularly from the armies of feral cats. Many, if not most, of Abu Dhabi's best bird sites have already succumbed to the march of development, and the lack of mesquite will certainly deal the birds another blow. The damage is now being compounded by the municipality who, as compensation to upset residents that have lost a lot of their birds and privacy, are offering eucalyptus saplings-a species which, in most of the world outside Australia, is regarded as an environmental disaster.

Why then has this ruthless policy been adopted? When Municipality workers employed in mesquite destruction are tackled on the matter, they answer that mesquite is harmful to human health. In fact they say it has carcinogenic properties and causes asthma and allergies. If we were to start eradicating all plants containing potentially harmful substances, there would not be very much left! And if the tree is so dangerous, surely it is surprising that the hundreds of workers employed in the task of removing it are not given any kind of protective clothing such as protective glasses and gloves!

It is too late to avoid this blow to Abu Dhabi's wildlife, but I hope it is not too late to avoid damage to the global environment. If thousands of tons of mesquite wood are all burned, all the carbon which the trees have sequestered through photosynthesis over the last two or three decades, will be emitted to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, where it will enhance the global greenhouse effect, and hence global warming. Let us hope that the municipality has the wisdom to compost all the green material and use the wood for some environmentally benign purpose such as mulch or woodchips for horse-riding trails.

Saif al Shrubbari

[Is there really hard evidence to prove mesquite is harmful to human health? If you know we'd be happy to publish a follow up item in Focus.]

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ENHG helps ADIAS Airport dig

At its meeting in December, the Group Committee agreed to give a grant of Dh 5,000 from the ENHG Conservation Fund to the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey, ADIAS, towards the cost of its fieldwork at the Abu Dhabi Airport Archaeological site.

The Conservation Fund was established several years ago to provide a way in which the Group could make a contribution to projects or individuals undertaking work that related directly to the objectives of the Group, both inside and outside the United Arab Emirates. Previous recipients of grants in recent years have been Dr. Marijcke Jongbloed, for work on the production of the new checklist of the flora of the UAE, Dr. Reza Khan, Director of Dubai Zoo, for fieldwork in the Sunderban forests of Bangladesh, Dr. Peter Magee, of the University of Sydney, for work on the Iron Age archaeological site at Muwailah, in Sharjah, and Dr. Michele Ziolkowski, also of the University of Sydney, for excavation of a small fort from the Portuguese period at Bidiya, in Fujairah.

The ENHG grant to ADIAS will be used to help to pay the salary of the director of the archaeological fieldwork, Dr. Heiko Kallweit, (who addressed the Group's 17th December meeting), while ADIAS has also welcomed ENHG volunteers to work on the site. Two reports on the work are carried elsewhere in this issue of Focus, while a scientific report will be published later in Tribulus.

As Group members will know, a number of Committee members are also associated with ADIAS. These declared their interest at the Committee meeting, and the decision to make the Grant was voted on only by Committee members not linked to ADIAS.

Peter Hellyer

PS: As ADIAS Executive Director, I would like to thank the Committee, and the Group, for its support for the ADIAS work at the Airport, both financial and in terms of volunteers. The first season of ADIAS work at the Airport, in the summer of 1995, also involved volunteers from the Group, and I am delighted that we have, once again, been able to give Group members a chance to get involved in our archaeological work.

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Archaeology at the Airport - Talk Report

The Group meeting on 17th December focused on the archaeological work being undertaken at Abu Dhabi Airport by the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey, ADIAS, with the help of a number of volunteers from the Group.

Introducing the work, ADIAS Executive Director (and Group Committee member) Peter Hellyer outlined the history of work at the site. First identified during a bit of random birdwatching in early 1995, the site lies adjacent to the sabkha salt-flats in the area of what has now become the Al Ghazal Golf Club. In the summer of 1995, ADIAS team members had visited the site to find bulldozers hard at work destroying the sandstone hills on which the site lay, he said. Thanks to prompt action by the Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Civil Aviation Department, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, however, the bulldozers were stopped almost literally in their tracks, only a few feet away from one of the main archaeological features, and ADIAS, with the help of some volunteers from the Group, carried out a brief season of survey, surface pick-up and excavation in June and July. Not the best time to do archaeological work, he noted!

The work showed that the site had been used at three distinct periods, he noted - the Late Stone Age, (around 7.500 to 4,000 BC), the Bronze Age (around 3.200 BC to 2000 BC), and then around the beginning of the Christian era, 2,000 years ago. Fine flints from the Late Stone Age and pottery from the Bronze Age were found, as well as two stone-lined wells, both partially excavated.

Last May, Peter's ADIAS colleague Dr. Heiko Kallweit, from Germany's University of Freiburg, visited the site to see what had been uncovered as a result of erosion over the last few years, and found several important stone tools.

Among these, Heiko said in his part of the talk, were 'microliths,' small stone tools which would have formed part of a composite tool like a sickle, being set in a row in a wooden handle to cut grasses. The discovery of these microliths represented a 'first' for south-eastern Arabia, Heiko told Group members. As yet, howevetr, it is not possible to be sure whether the sickles would have been used for cutting wild grasses, or are evidence of the earliest beginnings of agriculture.

During the December fieldwork, Heiko, fellow ADIAS team member (and Group Committee member) Ingrid Barcelo and the dedicated group of ENHG volunteers have been carefully recording small flint tools on the surface of part of the site, and have also been collecting these tools for further study.

According to Heiko, the Abu Dhabi Airport site is of major importance. Not only is it one of the very few sites in the UAE with evidence of occupation during both the Late Stone Age and the Bronze Age, but it may also provide information about the transition between the two.

The occupants of the site during the Late Stone Age, he said, may have originally had links to Late Stone Age occupants of Palestine and Jordan, and certainly would have had domestic animals.

Peter Hellyer

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TWITCH IT! - Report for December 2002

Abu Dhabi birders had a bit of a struggle during December to match the remarkable collection of birds at Dubai's Wimpey Pits, but, by getting out regularly, some pretty good records were made. Best of the bunch was the UAE's 2nd eye-browed thrush, found by Steve James at Ghantut, the first having been seen by Dave Robinson at Asab back in 1988! A flurry of black-throated thrushes was recorded, as were a couple of red-breasted flycatchers, while three of THE speciality rarity for the capital, crested honey buzzard, were around all month.

Most records came from the island and the Al Wathba Camel track, though it's good to see that a few also came in from the Umm al-Nar golf club. Best bird of all was the thrush from Ghantut.

To a selection of the records.

On 1st December, a barred warbler was seen in the central reservation by the central bus station with the Spinney's area of Khalidiya producing a late nightingale, a tree pipit, wryneck and 2 hoopoes.

On 2nd December, Khalidiya had 5 black redstarts and a tatty crested honey buzzard. A spotted eagle was at the Eastern Lagoon.

An afternoon at Al Wathba Camel Track on 3rd December found 50 bimaculated larks, purple heron, pallid harrier, 7 marsh harriers and, at dusk, about 10 Egyptian nightjars.

On 4th December, an expired wryneck was being eaten by ants at Bateen. A barred warbler was seen again near Khalidiya Spinney's, with a pair of little green bee-eaters looking settled in on the patch of ground adjacent to the Hilton.

On 6th December, a spotted eagle was high over Mushrif Palace Gardens where one, or just possibly two, red-breasted flycatchers were showing well. A masked shrike was also seen there during the week and seems to have stayed into the New Year. A steppe buzzard was at Al Wathba Camel Track.

On 9th December a crested honey buzzard was spiraling over Mushrif in the company of a tethered, full-size Dalmatian dog. The credibility of the observer (Simon Aspinall) remains just about intact, since the dog turned out to be a helium-filled kite in the shape of the polka-dotted mutt. Also on 9th December, a very late, but gorgeous looking male pied wheatear was at the Health and Fitness Club. A spotted eagle, 3 kestrels, a sparrowhawk, 3 song thrushes and an isabelline shrike were between Spinneys and the Hilton. On 10th December, a glossy ibis and an isabelline shrike were in Mushrif Palace Gardens, with a great black-headed gull at The Club.

On 12th December, Al Wathba Camel Track had 2 marsh harriers and a pallid harrier, 75 Pacific golden plovers, 2 Temminck's stints, a barn owl, 35 bimaculated larks, 56 skylarks, 30 tawny pipits, 15 yellow and 40+ white wagtails. A wryneck was at Khalidiya.

On 13th December, a gaggle of 5 greylag geese was at Al Wathba Camel Track, along with a great white egret, 2 Montagu's harriers, 20 ruff, 68 chestnut-bellied sandgrouse, 23 bimaculated larks, 37 skylarks, 30 short-toed larks, a sand martin, a swallow, a meadow pipit, 5 Richard's pipits, 45 tawny pipit, a red-throated pipit, 38 water pipits, 4 yellow wagtails, 8 bluethroats, 12 isabelline wheatears, 15 desert wheatears, 2 Siberian stonechats, 4 isabelline shrike and 4 Southern grey shrike. 2 red-breasted flycatchers were at Mushrif Palace Gardens, along with a sparrowhawk and a grey wagtail.

2 black-throated thrushes were at the Umm al-Nar golf course on 14th December, along with a hoopoe lark, 8+ great cormorants and a little egret. The Eastern Lagoon roost had 53 cattle egrets and a glossy ibis, this latter staying into the New Year.

On 15th December, Al Wathba Camel Track had 5 pallid harriers, a falconer's saker, 62 Pacific golden plovers, 6 Egyptian nightjars, 25 bimaculated and 30 short-toed larks, 4 Richard's pipits and a Blyth's pipit, 10 isabelline and 15 desert wheatears, 10 isabelline and a steppe grey shrike, 4 starlings and a rose-coloured starling.

On the 16th, the UAE's 2nd eye-browed thrush was found by Steve James at Ghantut, along with 2, possibly 4, black-throated thrushes and a single male hypocolius.

On 18th December, a grey-headed wagtail, 5 whimbrel and 2 night herons were at Maqta in Abu Dhabi. An examination of the Eastern Lagoon area found 36 cattle egrets, 5 Western reef herons, a glossy ibis, a spotted eagle being mobbed by an osprey, a Pacific golden plover, 7 turnstones, a greenshank, 6 whimbrel and 2 water pipits.

On 19th December, a return visit to Ghantut found 4 black-throated thrushes (though not the eye-browed thrush) and a male hypocolius, while at the adjacent Polo Club were 21 cream-coloured coursers, 16 Pacific golden plovers and 39 tawny pipits.

Also on 19th December, 2 crested honey buzzards and a honey buzzard were on the Al Manhal radio mast with a wryneck and 2 chiffchaffs in the Mushrif Palace Gardens. 2 pairs of little green bee-eater were in the Khalidiya area.

Visits to Al Wathba Camel Track on 20th December found 5 greylag geese, 6 marsh harriers, 1 Montagu's harrier, 2 pallid harrier, a Steppe buzzard, a sparrowhawk, 3 kestrel, a quail, 5 Kentish plovers, 69 Pacific golden plovers, 3 curlew, 75 ruff, c.125 short toed larks, 46 bimaculated larks, 15 skylarks, 1 small (Oriental) skylark, c.70 tawny pipits, a tree pipit, 5 meadow pipits, 8 Richard's pipits, a Blyth's pipit, 18 red throated pipits, c. 55 water pipits, 4 yellow wagtails, 2 Siberian stonechats, 18 bluethroats, 12 isabelline wheatears, 20 desert wheatears, 6 isabelline shrike, 5 Southern grey shrike, a Steppe grey shrike, 8 starlings, 8 corn buntings and a merlin hunting larks at dusk, possibly the bird seen twice previously this winter. Spotlighting from 1815 found 7 Egyptian nightjars on the sodden tracks.

On 21st December, a steppe grey shrike and 11 skylarks were at the Abu Dhabi Golf and Equestrian Club. On 22nd, the glossy ibis, 3 song thrushes and, overhead, 2 crested honey buzzards were at Abu Dhabi's Eastern Lagoon.

Two black redstarts were at Abu Dhabi's Khalidiya on 24th December but little else.A crested honey buzzard was at Mushrif Palace Gardens, along with one of the 2 red-breasted flycatchers and 7 chiffchaffs. On 26th December, 2 Egyptian geese were at the Umm al-Nar golf course, along with a Pacific golden plover, 4+ whiskered terns and a desert wheatear.

On 26th December, a honey buzzard and 7 song thrushes were in the Intercontinental/Hilton area of Abu Dhabi , with 7 pintail, 2 teal, 2 curlew, a whimbrel, 90 white wagtail, 3 citrine wagtail, a water pipit and a desert wheatear at the Health and Fitness Club. A Blyth's pipit was on Khalidiya. In the afternoon, Al Wathba Camel Track had its 5 greylag geese, a steppe buzzard, a juvenile pallid harrier, Pacific golden plover numbers up to 85, 22 ruff, 45 chestnut-bellied sandgrouse, a small skylark and 2 Blyth's pipits, as well as the regulars.

On 27th December, a brief visit to Al Wathba Camel Track found 5 grey lag geese, a male marsh harrier, a pallid harrier (hunting and killing a palm dove), 80 Pacific golden plover, 23 ruff, 22 chestnut bellied sandgrouse, 45 bimaculated larks, 35 short toed larks, 40 skylarks, 65 tawny pipits, 20 water pipits, a bluethroat, 8 isabelline wheatears, 16 desert wheatears, 6 isabelline shrikes, 4 Southern grey shrike and a steppe grey shrike. An afternoon visit to the Al Wathba Lake produced highlights of an avocet, 8 black-tailed godwits, a spotted redshank, 5+ red-necked phalaropes, 10+ black-necked grebes and 30 shelduck. 700 or so duck were present, including 300+ shoveler, 250 teal, 65 mallard, 30 pintail and a couple of gadwall. 2 Arctic skuas were offshore Abu Dhabi.

On 29th December, a minimum of 12 great black-headed gulls were off the Corniche during the shamal. On 30th December, 3 crested honey buzzards, an 'ordinary' honey buzzard and one more not identified to species were over the Golf and Equestrian Club. A saker (escape?) was at the Abu Dhabi Airport golf club, where 20+ red-wattled plovers and 6 black-winged stilts appear to have taken up residence around the sabkha pools.

And as for the New Year? Well, there's a feast to report next month from the first three days of 2003! More next month.

Peter Hellyer

(The Twitch It! Report is extracted from the weekly Twitchers' Guide newsletter, compiled by Simon Aspinall and Peter Hellyer, which can be found on the Ministry of Information website at www.uaeinteract.com Records, please, to Hellyer@emirates.net.ae OR Hudhud10@emirates.net.ae

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Forthcoming ENHG Field Trips

Date Details
Jan 9-10 Overnight camping field-trip to Qarn Nizwa, Jebel Buhays, Tawi Fili, Qarn al Himar,Wadi Qawr, Hatta, Ra'y, Buraimi.
The overnight stop will be at Qarn al Himar.
Feb 6-7 Overnight camping field-trip via Al Ain oasis and museum to the Hanging Gardens. The overnight will be in the vicinity of Jebel Qattar, and participants will be invited to climb up the mountain on Friday morning.
Mar 6-7 Family camp and sand driving instruction (Alan McGee leading) in the Al Wathba area. This will be an overnight at less than 60mins from Abu Dhabi.
Mar 14 The second of our floral walks. This time in the western lagoon area of Abu Dhabi Island. At least two plants specialists will be in attendance. A picnic lunch will follow.
Mar 20-21 An overnight camping field-trip to the Liwa Oasis. Camping in the sands with a survey of life in the dunes. Returning via Ghayathi.
April 3-4 Desert ecology camping field-trip (Chris Drew leading) This trip, previously postponed, will focus on reptiles and rodents in the Umm Al Zumul area.
April 10-11 Overnight camping field-trip to Ras Al Khaima emirate covering archaeology, flora, fauna and sea shells.
May 8-9 Overnight camping fieldtrip to the East Coast, incorporating visits to Ohala and Wadi Hayl.

Note: Simon Aspinall has agreed to lead a bird-watching excursion soon. This will be announced at a future ENHG meeting. Ingrid Barcelo may be able to organize a visit to the Royal Stables, possibly on a Thursday morning. For details of all forthcoming excursions you are advised to attend the bi-monthly meetings of ENHG, as dates and destinations may be changed at short notice. Requests for future trips are invited and should be directed to the Excursions Secretary or any committee member.

Allestree Fisher, Excursions Secretary

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Items for Sale on ENHG Stall

Abu Dhabi Bird checklist
10Dhs (free if spend over 50dhs )

Birds of Europe
100Dhs (bargain - covers most birds in this region)

Birdlife in Oman
120Dhs (Beautiful photographs by the Eriksen's)

Birdwatching Guide to Oman
95 Dhs ( signed copies by Eriksens, Sargeants)

Birdwatching Guide to UAE
50Dhs (reduced from 60 Dhs, author our chairman Simon - get him to sign copies)

Breeding birds of UAE
SB 30Dhs / HB 60Dhs (again reduced. Author Simon - get him to sign copies).

Childrens Encyclopaedia
100Dhs (facts about the region - aimed at the kids)

Hidden Riches
150Dhs (Peter Hellyer's highly readable, informative book - get him to sign your copy)

Seashells
30Dhs (useful little waterproof guide to the regions shells)

Sea Turtles
20Dhs (find out about our local turtles)

Indigenous Trees
30Dhs (Rheza Khan, Director of Dubai Zoo - know your local trees)

Whales and Dolphins
120Dhs (Collins latest photographic guide)

Wild about Mammals
40Dhs (Marijcke Jongbloed mammals of the UAE )

Plant Checklist
25Dhs (Marijcke Jongbloed - Know your local wild plants)

Cards
15Dhs per pack (great to send home - local scenes)

ENHG T shirts, Caps, Sweatshirts
25Dhs, 25Dhs, 35Dhs (Buy any 2 - get 10Dhs off)

New for the Bookshelf: Two new books for the Group Bookshelf - and both well worth getting.

The island of Abu Al Abyad
Published by the Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency, ERWDA, this book is a detailed look at the environment, wildlife, archaeology and geology of the UAE's largest island. This book is NOT available in the shops, so the Group's Book-Table is probably the only place most members will ever get a chance to buy it. At a price of Dh 125, it's well worth having. Buy quickly, while stocks last!

Feast of Dates
Written by leading archaeologist Dan Potts, and published by Trident Press, this book outlines the history of date cultivation (the oldest evidence of date-palm consumption by Man, over 7,000 years ago, comes from an archaeological site on Abu Dhabi's island of Dalma) and also examines the role of the date, and the date palm, in the traditional life of the people of the region. It also looks at current research, as well as other topics.

This book isn't available in the shops in Abu Dhabi yet, either. Another good chance for Group members to buy one at the special rate of Dh 150. Limited supplies only!

The Book-Table probably has the best collection of books and booklets on the UAE's natural history and heritage to be found anywhere in the capital, including many that are not available through the shops. Bring a well-stocked wallet or purse to meetings (and preferably a carrier bag too!) We can't promise something new for every meeting, but there are more new books in the pipeline!
Peter Hellyer

TRIBULUS - complete your set!
Group members who would like to obtain back copies of our refereed bi-annual journal TRIBULUS might like to know that copies can be obtained of most past issues (and, if the arms of the Editorial Board are twisted sufficiently gently, photocopies could even be made of issues which, like Vol. 1.1 and Vol. 1.2, are out of print).

Individual copies can be purchased for 10Dhs.

TRIBULUS is the ONLY regular English language scientific journal on the natural history, archaeology, palaeontology and natural history of the Emirates.

Members wishing to obtain back copies should contact either Peter Hellyer (hellyer@emirates.net.ae) OR Simon Aspinall (hudhud10@emirates.net.ae). If they can be collected from my office at the Ministry of Information, so much the better - but please give advance warning, as not all back issues are kept there.

Peter Hellyer

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Lectures

Date Topic Presenter
7th January Saharan Wildlife John Newby
21st January Natural History of Kuwait Gary Brown
4th February The Natural History of Southern Spain Dick Hornby
18th February Tales from the African bush Steve James
4th March The Ruus Jibal Gary Feulner
18th March WWF in the UAE Fred Launay

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Committee members

Simon Aspinall (Chairman)
Richard Perry (Deputy Chairman)
Wafa Morda'a (Secretary)
Hazim al Chalabi (Membership Secretary)
Peter Hellyer (editor of Tribulus)
Charles Laubach (Member)
Andrew Twyman (Sales)
Arun Kumar (Treasurer)
Dick Hornby (Member)
Ingrid Barcelo (Member)
Allestree Fisher (Excursion Secretary)
Drew Gardner (Member)

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Corporate Sponsors of the ENHG 2003

The following companies are supporting the ENHG's conservation efforts in the UAE. We hope you, as ENHG members, will in turn support these companies whenever you can:

Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO)
Al Fahim Group
Al Nasser Holdings
Al Sayegh Richards Butler
Emirates Holdings
Abu Dhabi Grand Meridien
Kanoo Group
Mohammed Bin Masaood & Sons
National Bank of Abu Dhabi
Trowers & Hamlins
WESCO


Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan