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Gazelle July/August 1999

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Suicide Leap?
Hovering Purple Sunbirds

Suicide Leap?

(Mammals)

Under the ramparts of Jebel Hagab near Wadi Bih, we found a dry stone lined water cistern (about 8 foot deep) containing 5 recently demised Brandt's hedgehogs (Paraechinus hypomelas). Two were showing signs of decomposition, the other three died recently. Were these delightful mammals looking for a shady place to sleep during the day, were they forced over the edge or were they interested in the fruit of the desert squash growing in the pit? Once in the pit there was no escape.

For essentially nocturnal animals who normally lead a solitary life, this was a curious and sad sight.

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Hovering Purple Sunbirds

(Ornithology)
Report by Gary Feulner

It may be commonplace to Jumeira residents who have attractive flower gardens, but well-travelled Chairman Gary Feulner reports that it was a first for him to see, during a July weekend, on the East Coast, more than a dozen Purple Sunbirds hovering like hummingbirds to feed on nectar from the orange trumpet-shaped blossoms of a vertical wall of Thevetia peruviana, a popular ornamental hedge plant. Although the Purple Sunbird (Nectarima asiatica) is one of the UAE's smallest birds, it is still much larger than most hummingbirds and hovers with the body held at about a 45-degree angle. Gary says that those observed on the East Coast made it look like hard work.

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