April 2000 Newsletter
April 2000 Newsletter
Jebelnauts conquer Hafit, record birds on cool March morningby Peter Cunningham
The annual Jebal Hafit climb was successfully accomplished by the nine members who set out early on 3 March in cold cloudy windy conditions. This however, made for a pleasant hike, especially the shade covered western flank during most of the morning. I cannot recall people enjoying the sun as much, once the clouds started to dissipate, though.
The trail initially passed through spectacular canyon-like structures before graduating to open ridges with marvellous views of the surrounding Acacia tortilis gravel plains and dune desert.
The honeycomb erosion of the surrounding cliff faces housed Rock Doves and is known to serve as breeding areas for Hume's and Hooded Wheatear, Brown-necked Raven and possibly Egyptian Vulture. Two Barbary Falcons were seen harassing a Brown-necked Raven, which often feed on the eggs and nestling of other birds, at the start of the hike.
The geology is exceptional with syncline, anticline, faults and fractures evident in the "bent" layers of limestone.
The summit was reached at approximately 09h30 after more than two hours, with few water breaks due to the cold. According to the GPS (elevation 1 150 m) the temperature at the summit was 14’C! The sun thankfully started to break through the clouds during this time and warmed the group huddled together, reminiscent of Rock Hyrax basking, out of the wind. A lone juvenile Egyptian Vulture was observed soaring over the summit and the lack of other wildlife sightings was due to the environmental conditions.
The official signing of the "Blue Book" then took place with Ibrahim noting that it was his 18th official climb!
The descent, usually more strenuous on the knees, was done under more pleasant conditions passing a group of five other hikers on their ascent.
Flowering Moringa perigrina, trees usually observed at elevations between 300 to 700 m, were passed on both the ascent and descent and the lower trees had attracted Desert White butterflies by the time we passed them later. A lone, Hooded Wheatear was spotted during a water break and Desert Larks were in abundance at the foot of the mountain.
Thanks to Ibrahim and all the other intrepid hikers of the day for a most enjoyable outing.
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Seasonal comparisons for Spiny-tail Lizards (Dhubs)by Peter Cunningham
Winter observations of the daily activity pattern, of a population of Spiny-tail lizards (Uromastyx aegyptius microlepis), in the Al Ain region has resulted in the following comparisons: [Summer comparisons are indicated in bold parenthesis]
The lizards emerge later than during the hot summer months, with the earliest emergence recorded at 09h10 (06h55) and the peak between 10h30 and 12h00 (with an average ambient temperature of 22’C (30’C) at emergence). More time above ground is spent basking, with an average of 2 hours 32 minutes (1h40m) spent on this activity. Basking accounts for 23% (14%) of the total available daylight.
Five of the 20 study individuals did not emerge at all to bask and/or forage, something not observed during the summer observations. Time spent foraging was on average 53 minutes (33 minutes) which is 8% (4%) of the available daylight. A peak foraging period occurs between 12h00 and 14h00 (09h00 and 10h00) with lizards returning to their burrows when the ambient temperature is 23’C (40’C). Only 45% of the observed individuals ventured out to forage as opposed to 95% during summer. This can be attributed to the individuals weighing up the cost benefits of energy expenditure during foraging when the available vegetation is scarce and of low quality (higher cellulose & lignin and lower protein values of vegetation).
Lizards spend more time basking, after foraging bouts, compared to the often immediate submergence during summer. The latest submergence of an individual witnessed during winter was at 15h55. Dhubs spent more of the available daylight hours, during winter, above ground (31% VS 13%) and less time submerged 69% (87%).
The furthest distance travelled to forage by an individual was 120 metres (280 m) with the mean distance being 48 metres (60m).
A faecal analysis of 85 fresh pellets was conducted to determine insect utilisation during winter as a source of protein supplement. No insect remains were found although 11% of the pellets analysed contained sheep faeces and 4% date kernels and feathers, respectively. This suggests a more opportunistic foraging behaviour during winter than during summer.
No differentiation was made between the sexes as it is virtually impossible to tell the sexes apart in the field and it would also be expected that the behaviour and diet selection would change after good rains, something not able to be determined during this study.
A total of 480 observation hours (40 dhubs) was conducted (summer & winter) during above mentioned study.
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Al Ain members tour Nizwa and surrounding sites, towns
In recent weeks, two groups of ENHG members have visited the ancient capital of Oman, Nizwa, and enjoyed the thrill of the cliff walk along Jebel Shams.
The first group traveled in late March while the second group spent the weekend of April 5, 6, 7 in Nizwa.
For many, the highlight of the trip was the walk along the sheer cliff face of Jebel Shams. The views from the trail are breath-taking. At the end of the trail is an abandoned village. Some evidence at the site suggests it was occupied until the mid or late 1980’s when, evidently, the water supply was terminated. There are a number of houses, some with storage gourds and grinding stone still in place. Nearby are terraces for crops and a relatively small afflaj system. Storage bins contain pomegranates which grew on trees in the area.
Each Friday, the group toured the market in central Nizwa. One of the features is the animal market, where vendors parade the livestock (sheep, goats, cattle) in a circle of potential buyers. The reconstructed souq contains a number of antique shops as well as vegetable, meat and fish markets for residents of Nizwa. The market activity extends to the large parking area in front of the imposing structure.
At Tanuf, the group toured the ruins of the old town. Guidebooks say the structures were destroyed in the “jabal war”. The site is impressive for the underground afflaj system which winds beneath the buildings.
At Hamra, the abandoned souq echoes with activity from the past. Around the souq are an impressive collection of mud buildings which many in the group captured on countless photographs; the area contains “some of the oldest and finest two-storey houses in Oman.”
Nearby, the village of Misfah has one of the most complicated water systems and stone buildings, all clinging to the side of a sheer cliff.
At Bahla, we met the ‘singing silversmith’ captured in one of the photos from our card collection and recent photo competition. A short distance away is the pottery where Bahla pottery continues to be made.
Slides, photos and artifacts will be on display April 25.
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Arthropod SIG visits Wadi Khutwah to observe, collect, recordby Brigitte Howarth
And suddenly they were everywhere……
Ever tried to hold your breath to watch a butterfly close-up sipping nectar from a flower? What about trying to find a cricket by slowly following its song? Or have you ever gone down on all fours to have a closer look at something moving on the ground? No? Time to throw those inhibitions to the wind and discover the secret life that is the arthropod kingdom.
When the newly formed Arthropod SIG met for their first outing on the 5th of February, no one knew what they would find or where their journey of discovery would take them. The chosen location was wadi Khutwah, about a half hour drive from Al Ain into Oman. Khutwah comprises an old village within the oasis, and a new village, which has been built away from the oasis and falaj systems. There are still residents in the old village but many of the houses are abandoned. Khutwah is rich in historical heritage and equally rich in diversity of habitats including the oasis with its date palm, citrus and mango trees, banana plants and cultivation of many other vegetables such as corn and garlic. The plantation supports a rich variety of creepy crawlies, however, so does the rocky wadi where camouflage and intrigue is the order of the day. Water can always be found at Khutwah and thus the little pools also support much life. Each of these habitats revealed many different species of arthropods, some of which were very obviously specialized to their particular habitat. Walking along the wadithe terrain seems bleak and harsh, rocky, sandy with little vegetation. Yet, it is teaming with life and one of the most spectacular insects of the day was discovered there. In fact, discovery was quite by chance as it seemed that a stone had been kicked up by shoes but following the ‘stone’ with our eyes and approaching it made us realize that it was actually a grasshopper so perfectly concealed that only movement would give away its camouflage. It resembled the stony ground perfectly. On approach the insect would escape by hopping and opening its front wings to reveal bright iridescent flashes of blue on the hind wings, a defense mechanism that is designed to startle a would-be predator long enough for the insect to get away. Preliminary identification shows that this is Sphingonotus rubescens, identified by pale blue markings on the tibia.
On a subsequent visit to Khutwah another example of masquerade was observed when watching a crab spider (Thomisidae) perched below blossoms awaiting prey. These spiders are usually the same colour as the flower it frequents, resemble a small crab (hence the common name), and sit still ready to ambush any insect that visit the blossoms for pollen or nectar. This type of masquerade or mimicry is termed aggressive, as it is the predator that is concealed waiting to catch food, whereas the grasshopper is viewed as being camouflaged to protect itself from being eaten. Yes, it’s a bug’s life out there!
Investigation of the water pools (yes, on all fours!) revealed several different insects, including water boatmen (Notonectidae), saucer bugs (Naucoridae) and pond skaters (Gerridae), the latter also known as surface dwellers, scouring the surface waters in search of prey that might have fallen into the water and are subsequently trapped by surface tension. Pond skaters evade being trapped with the aid of water-repellent hairs. Another insect that is classed as a surface dweller is the water measurer (Hydrometridae) several of which were observed on a subsequent visit to Khutwah. These are very elusive as they are extremely streamlined and simply look like tiny shadows skating over the water. Water beetles were also observed. The falaj system also contains many arthropods and these are adapted to flowing water whereas the organisms seen in the water pools are better adapted to still water. Another common sight in the pools was the shed nymphal case of dragonflies (Odonata). These intact ghostly skins are onl marked by the crack on the thorax where the nymphal case would have broken open to allow the metamorphosed adult to emerge, dry, and fly away. Dragonfly nymphs spend their immature stage in the water as ferocious predators, the adults are also predators and are often seen flying over bodies of water in search of prey. A moth was also rescued from the water, which remains unidentified at present.
Walking through the oasis many insects would ‘zoom’ past but some were caught. Amongst the insects found were a shield bug (Heteroptera), some bees and wasps, flies and butterflies. A butterfly that was collected has been identified as the Oriental Lime or Citrus Swallowtail (Papilio demoleus), commonly found in oasis where it feeds on Citrus, which was introduced to Arabia within the last 800 years (Larsen, 1984). The caterpillars can become a pest if they occur in large numbers as they exclusively feed on the leaves of orange, lime and lemon trees.
We were very fortunate to be able to learn about some of the historic heritage at Khutwah from Brien Holmes who pointed out a copper smelting site and a donkey track, and who guided us around the old village and into some of the amazing old houses – a trip back in time. In the old village we found a Ladybird pupa (Coccinellidae) that was taken back to Al Ain and from which a week later emerged a 7-spot Ladybird (Coccinella 7-punctata).
So, what happens to these sightings and records? During the early days of the ENHG, which was founded in 1977, the importance of recording the flora and fauna of the U.A.E. and Oman was recognized and this became a major part of the group’s objectives. To this day the sightings of birds are recorded and published weekly by Simon Aspinall and Peter Hellyer as the ‘Twitcher’s Guide’. Peter Cunningham, our recording officer, has begun to create a database for records of flora and fauna and it is our objective to work together to record the arthropods. The ecosystems we deal with in the U.A.E. and Oman are delicate at times and until we know what occurs in these habitats we are unable to conserve these and maintain species richness. Some of the insects collected have not been identified yet and once this is done the records will go to Peter and will provide scientific information on the diversity of the U.A.E. and Oman.
Thus, it is always appreciated if members collect material which can be kept in little film cartridges in the freezer until the next meeting and only need date and location to make it a true scientific record. Time to get on all fours…!
The next field trip was to Fossil Valley, which provided us with a very different range of species to those found at Khutwah. And so the journey of discovery will continue…
You can be armed with a net for the next trip as the committee has purchased a number of nets. If you would prefer to have your own net, please contact me via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (7614316).
And suddenly, we see bugs everywhere, beware!
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Special Interest Groups
The Al Ain chapter set up a number of Special Interest Groups for the benefit of members. The initiative was intended to provide more activities for the growing membership. The committee recognized that the regular offering of twice-monthly field trips was not always sufficient.
The SIGs have had some success. This season, however, we were unable to attract a coordinator for birding activities. The committee is convinced this process will benefit members though more participation and volunteer leaders are needed.
Gardens, pools, gravel beds yield variety of flies, wasps, bees
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Touring Iran: Travel notes of one couple’s visit to Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz
(The following article was prepared by Dennis and Nancy Sollosy. Nancy is the group’s former membership secretary. A year ago, she and her husband visited Iran and wanted to share their exerpience.)
My wife and I spent a wonderful 6 days visiting the three cities of Tehran, Esfahan and Shiraz in mid June 1999. The temperatures were a little warm at that time of year, probably in the mid 30s C most days. But the evenings were very pleasant.
Our trip was organized entirely by Al Rais Travel agency in Duabi (ph 04-520-300, fax 04-520-700). We dealt with Mr. Mansoubi whose direct line is 04-520-123.They are located near the Ramada Hotel in Bur Dubai, opposite Spinney’s supermarket. They arranged for our visas, which took about 24 hours and cost Dhs 200 per person, and booked all our flights, hotels with breakfasts and tour guides in each of the three cities. The costs for 7 days was Dhs 2300 per person, all inclusive. The only thing we had to buy were our lunches and evening meals. Everything clicked along just as it was suppose to. The guide met us as we got off the plane in Tehran and walked us through immigration, etc. in about 10 minutes flat. The guides in Esfahan and Shiraz also were waiting for us when the planes touched down in those two cities. All three guides spoke very good English and were very accommodating. Al Rais Travel had set itineraries for us, but the guides modified them to meet our needs. If we wanted to skip a visit to a palace or a mosque and spend more time in the markets, they would bend the program to fit. They were knowledgeable about their country and their respective cities. They answered all questions openly and were just generally congenil people.
The dress code for women is something that tourists do have to pay attention to. Women are required to cover their hair and to wear a chador or abayya or something to hide their curves. About 40% of the Iranian women wore light weight trench coats or rain coats which covered them to mid calf. The coats were typically gray, brown, tan or navy blue in colour. About half the women wore light scarves which had floral designs or other patterns and were typical of somber colours. The other half wore the traditional black chador and head scarf.
Some guidebooks suggest that men should wear long sleeved shirts and shoes and socks. That’s not necessary. We observed that about 30% of the men wore short sleeved shirts. Most wore full shoes with socks, but we saw a few in sandals over bare feet.
The hotels were comfortable and reasonably central. We don’t have any
problem recommending them. They were:
Here are the names and numbers for the guides we had in Esfahan and Shiraz, just in case someone wants to hop over for a weekend or make their own arrangements. We do not know how much they’d charge for private arrangements, but we have no hesitation in recommending them as they did an excellent job for us.
Esfahan –Jafar Torabi, No. 5 Taves Benbast, Bisim Street, Bozorgmehr Ave. Esfahan, Iran 81578, ph 98-0-31-670-939
Shiraz – Reza Haghighai Jou, Khak Shenacy Ave., Gholbank Travel Agency, home ph – 98-0-71-772-426
As noted above, the trip was very well organized and went off like clockwork. If we had to do it over, we’d probably skip Tehran as it’s a big noisy city with limited things to see. Two days there is sufficient if you want to go. Esfahan is a beautiful city with lots to offer. We had only 2 days there but would recommend 3 or more if you have the time. Shiraz is also lovely and one can easily spend 2 or 3 full days exploring it’s charms. All three cities have large covered bazaars or markets, each would have over 1000 shops in them, perhaps 2000 or more. The crafts were very high quality. Things they seem to excel at are glass items, copper and silver tooling, inlaid wood articles and hand painted enamel coated copper plates and vases. One can’t talk about crafts without mentioning rugs and carpets. Iran offers some of the finest in the world and they can be found in numerous shops in the bazaars. If you have the option, ask for the section of the bazaar where the locals might buy their carpets. You’ll get better prices. Speaking of prices, be prepared to barter very hard to get good prices. The shopkeepers are tough, but work at it and you’ll do OK. As a rule of thumb, offer them about 1/3 of their asking price and never pay more then ½ for carpets.
What follows from here is an excerpt of a diary that I write and periodically send home to my family; it may give you a feel for some of our experiences.
Our first stop was the capital city of Tehran. We spent 2 days there touring about and shopping in the grand bazaar. The most notable things were the former Shah’s Palace which kind of defines the word opulent, the house of Ayatollah Khomeini which was very modest and an extreme contrast to the Shah’s little residence, lunch in a traditional Iranian restaurant up on a mountain side and the grand bazaar itself. The Shah’s Palace, actually it was his summer residence, had an exterior largely composed of lovely green marble and brick. The woodwork on the doors inside was most impressive, but the real knock out was his reception room which was about 30 feet square and 20 feet high and entirely coated with mirror. The mirrors were cut into a million or so tiny pieces and all fit together to resemble stars and various crystal shapes. A huge crystal chandelier hung from the middle of the ceiling. Talk about glittery – it kind of made you feel like you were stepping into a giant jewel box. By contrast the old Ayatollah lived in a little two-room shack next to his favorite mosque in the old section of town. It was interesting to listen to the guide who genuinely believed the old guy did everything he did just for the good of the people. He was a smart politician if nothing else.
From his house we made a short walk through the old part of town and stopped by a traditional bakery where they were turning out fresh bread just in time for lunch. To make the bread they spread the dough out into a ½ inch thick layer on a large paddle with a very long handle. They then put the paddle into a large stone oven in which the floor of the oven is covered with small pebbles. The bread is laid out on the stones with a sweeping motion which results in a thin slab of bread about 2 feet long and a foot wide. A few minutes later it’s pulled it out of the oven and hung on hooks to cool for about 5 minutes before selling. As you pick up a slab to take away you have to pick out whatever pebbles may have stuck to the underside. We took a slab with us because it was nearly time for lunch.
Our guide took us to the edge of Tehran to an area called the Darband where we walked about ½ km along side a stream up the mountainside amongst traditional Iranian restaurants. On the way up we bought some new cherries just picked from the orchards. When we got to the designated restaurant, owned by the driver’s father, we found a number of “beds” covered with Persian carpets and cushions against the backs and decorated with fresh flowers as center pieces. Removing our shoes we sat lotus style, all except me with my stiff hips, and ordered our food. Since Nancy and I had fresh bread and a basket of new cherries we only asked for drinks and a small salad each. The proprietor didn’t seem to mind us bringing our own food to his restaurant.Our driver and guide more than made up for us with large orders of lamb shish kabobs, yogurt and rice.
After lunch we took a ski chair-lift to the top of a low mountain for a nice view over Tehran and a walk through some of the ski villages. On the way up and down there were lots of young women riding the lift dressed in their black abbayyas and head scarves. It looked a little incongruous but they were having a good time. At the bottom again we ate some fresh mulberries and bought more cherries for later. There was also some whole walnuts which had been taken out of their shells, but not roasted, and were sitting in jars of water to keep them fresh. They were really tasty so we bought a dozen for later snacking as well.
The grand bazaar rivals that of Istanbul in size with about 4000 shops under one huge roof. There is a maze of alleys and streets that only the experienced know how to navigate. Our guide asked us what kinds of things we wanted to look for and took us to those areas of the bazaar. We spent most of one morning there, bought a couple small rugs and moved on to other things.
Nearby was a shrine to one of the important followers of the Prophet Mohammed. It was another glitter box. The inside was fully coated with tiny mirrors in star shapes, etc.. That afternoon we visited an archeological museum which contained the history of the various Persian Empires and spent an hour or so in a carpet museum. The latter was very impressive with carpets from all over Iran. They are really magnificent works of art. A few of them are relatively new, but most were 60 – 100 years old and many far older than that. There were a couple of very large carpets that were about 500 years old. They were a bit worn in spots but still had all their original colours. At the end of the day we flew down to the city of Esfahan.
As you fly between Tehran and Esfahan all one sees is desert. It’s a hard desert, mostly mountains and rocky hills but it’s all a dry brown colour. However as you land in Esfahan all of that changes to green. The city has a river flowing through it and the banks have been developed into parks for the people to use for picnics and recreation. There are three historic bridges that cross the river, two built in the 1600s and an older one near 100 AD. The latter is in tough shape and is not used at all any more, but the other two are still used as walking bridges and really quite attractive in their structure and design. The city is lush with trees and a variety of other vegetation. It is considered the beauty center of Iran and truly lives up to that reputation. A 16th century visitor once commented that “Esfahan is half the world”. At various times in Persian history it has been the capital of Iran so different kings took the time to build palaces and monuments that have been preserved to modern times.
The focal point is a large square that covers about 20 acres of space in the middle of the city. It is laid out with an open area that once was a polo field but now contains walking paths, fountains, flowers and shrubs and a large reflecting pool. At one end is a huge mosque for the people and in the middle of one side is another private mosque for the king. Across the square from the King’s mosque is a 5-story palace with a small pool and fountain on the 5th floor. Apparently the fountains were operated by hand-pumps All around the sides of the square are covered shops and at the end opposite the public mosque is the beginning of the giant bazaar. It alone has 5 km of covered alleys and walk ways. Unfortunately we were in Esfahan during two days of religious holidays for the Shiite Muslims so everything was closed and we didn’t get to see much of the bazaar. Our guide knew of a carpet shop that was open in spite of the holiday so we stopped by “just to look”, and of course we wound up as owners of another beautiful carpet.
About the only thing open during those two days were mosques so our guide took us to many old and beautiful ones ranging from 11th century construction to fairly modern times. Most of them were very large. They all had characteristic blue tile domes and what is described as “honey comb” construction on the underside of the domes and doorways. The honey comb appearance is suppose to naturally lead one’s eye upward to the highest point of the dome and hence to God. Each of the mosques was quite beautiful in its own way, but after a half dozen or so of these structures you kind of get “mosqued out”. In the afternoon we took a drive along the river out to a fire temple once used by the ancient Persians. The drive was lovely as cruised along the river’s edge passing orchards of cherries, quince and apricots plus small paddies of rice and a number of vegetable gardens. Families gathered all along the banks for picnics and swimming (boys only of course as this is still a Muslim country). The fire temple itself is a crumbling mud-brick construction high on a rocky promontory in the middle of the valley. Apparently fire was worshipped by the ancient Persians and there is evidence that a flame had been kept burning continuously in this particular one for over 150 years. That’s a lot of fuel! We climbed the hill to the fire temple; from the top of the hill one could see the entire valley which was about 10 mile wide by 30 miles long. The valley was green and lush. All the trees and crops were irrigated with water from either the river or from wells. It was a lovely sight considering that one was still in the middle of the desert.
Another unusual place we stopped to look at was some pigeon roosts. They are conical towers about 50 feet high and made of mud-bricks. They are designed to attract pigeons for safe roosting at night and for nesting. The idea was to get large numbers of pigeons nesting and roosting in one place, then about once each year they’d open the place up and collect all the droppings. The droppings were spread on the fields for fertilizer.
Our next stop was the city of Shiraz. It is also located in a valley surrounded by mountains and has a good supply of water from natural springs, a small river and a nearby lake fed by melting snows of high mountains. It is well treed and has some nice gardens and parks for the locals. One of the principle attractions is the historic site of Persepolis which is about 50 km outside of town. It was constructed about 2500 years ago by a Persian king, then mostly destroyed by Alexander the Great. It must have been a wondrous sight in its heyday as it was built along ancient Greek and Roman lines with tall stone columns and lots of marble carved with figures and stories of ancient traditions. But about 1000 years after Alexander the Great did his thing, the Arab Muslims who were conquering the world came by and further destroyed it, defacing all human and animal figures.
On the way back from Persepolis we saw a number of nomad tents in the fields not far off the highway. One had quite easy access for the car so we stopped to see what they were all about. They had a smallish tent made of goat hair fabric and not much inside it except for carpets to sit or lay on. Nearby there was a small campfire burning and a flock of perhaps 100 sheep and goats. These are the people who make some of the finest tribal carpets Iran has to offer, but unfortunately the lady had already sold hers in the market. Drying in the sun on a wooden crate just outside the tent were a number of small round white balls, almost golf ball size, that we learned were yogurt curd. Apparently they dry them then use them later in cooking, or just to suck on. They offered us some which we kind of licked for a taste, but weren’t about to eat. They had a very salty, sour flavour.
Back in Shiraz we were taken to more mosques and palaces built several hundred years ago. Most of them are very beautiful structures and they have been maintained in good condition. The ever present blue tiles are featured prominently in most of these buildings. A highlight of Shiraz is its bazaar. It is very large and it’s another maze of alleys and streets all under one roof. A notable difference about this one is that the roof is about 30 ft high, much higher than those of Tehran and Esfahan. The high ceiling helps to keep it cool. We wandered about with the guide checking out the rugs and other crafts. We were amazed at the quality of the craftsmanship. There were a good variety of things for sale and the vast majority was high quality. Notable things were copper and silver tooling, beautiful copper plates and vases with intricate hand painted enamel finish, glasswork, block-printed linens and of course carpets. While we were in the bazaar some of the nomadic people in their colourful dress came through with a carpet rolled up on their shoulder looking for a buyer. The carpets come in an infinite variety and virtually all are good quality and will last a lifetime. We fell in love with several different tribal carpets but limited our purchases to three smaller ones.
The trip to Iran was a very good one. Nancy had to cover her hair and wear a full body wrap, an abbaya, but outside of that we had no hassles of any kind. People were very friendly and were very concerned that we think well of Iran. The hotel staff treated us very well and tried to make sure we had everything we wanted. Whenever we stopped to look at something there was always a group of young people, boys and girls alike, who would gather around to practice their English skills on us. They invariably asked where we were from and the reply of “Canada” always earned us a nice big smile. Somewhere along the way there was always the question of whether or not we thought Iran was a good country. We tried to reassure them it was. I think if it was left up to the average person on the street in Iran, the world opinion of that country would be very different than that portrayed by the politicians and the media. The people are hard working and very congenial; they displayed a great deal of warmth towards us. It didn’t matter if it was in the markets, at tourist sites or in the mosques, we met nothing but fine hospitable people. (Have questions for Dennis or Nancy? You can contact them at email@example.com.)
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One of the unfortunate aspects of life as an expat is the fact that friends leave too soon. This year is no exception.
Rob Paterson, who has done such an impressive job of organizing the group’s financial records, will be leaving at the end of the month. He leaves the group a comprehensive set of records; what we need now is someone to pick up the task, made considerably easier by Rob’s contributions. If you are interested in serving as treasurer, please contact a committee member.
The Committee is also short a volunteer to lead our Birding Special Interest Group, one ordinary member, and an Environment Officer. If you are interested in any of these positions, please contact a committee member.
The committee meets at the Intercontinental Hotel on the first Tuesday of each month.
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Tribulus and membership?
Tribulus magazine is the official Bulletin of the Emirates Natural History Group.
Tribulus is published twice each year, in April and October. The aim of the publication is to create and maintain a collection of recordings, articles and analysis on topics of regional archaeology and natural history.
The committee is considering a proposal to follow the lead of Abu Dhabi and include copies of the magazine with the membership fee. There may be a corresponding modest increase in the membership fee.
Committee members would like to hear from members. Copies of back issues of Tribulus are available in the chapter’s library.
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Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan
Served from Molalla, Oregon, United States of America