Under the Patronage of H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mubarak Al Nahayan

 The ENHG
Al Ain Chapter

Newsletter

The Emirates Natural History Group, Al Ain Chapter, PO Box 18057, Al Ain             April, 2005– Issue #227

 An Oman Weekend - Ibri to Nizwa + Jebel Shams
article and photos by W. Moore
On March 30th , just over 40 ENHG members made their way in to Oman for a weekend tour. Those doing the Jebel Shams cliff walk on Thursday either camped out on the mountainside or stayed in the camping cabins near the top of the mountain. They all met up on Thursday morning at the camp-ground and spent the day hiking along the cliff-edge overlooking wadi Gull some 1000 feet below. Those doing the Ibri – Nizwa tour met up at the Ibri Hotel in Ibri (a two hour trip from Al Ain – including border crossing). Then spent Thursday in Sulaif (an abandoned fortified town), Al Ayn (the site of an ancient burial ground with 15 bee-hive tombs in a spectacular setting – and the village /oasis of Al Ayn where toads were swimming in the newly plowed and watered earth among the banana, papaya, citrus and date palms), Bahla (to visit the old pottery kilns and the new pottery factories), Jabrin Castle (site of the Rulers home, pre-Omani unification), Misfah (a mountain village with an oasis located on the rock slopes of a wadi canyon [60%+ side-slopes] - this has to be seen to be believed), and Nizwa town and souq.
Our purpose was to introduce members working in the region to a variety of sites in Oman in the hope that they find something to interest them while here – and perhaps to carry out some useful natural history study of the site as well. I know that sounds like a convenient cover for a good-time weekend, but believe me, I’m hooked on a site in Ras Al Khaima that we visited at the beginning of March. I am seriously considering a bit of a study on the stone village site we visited. Then there’s Misfah! I could spend a lot of time in such a place – if I had a good excuse to be there – like mapping out the oasis – in 3D!
The group gathered in several hotels in Nizwa on Thurs-day evening and had until 10:30 to visit the Nizwa souq Friday morning before heading out to Manah – another abandoned fortified town (much larger than Sulaif). Then it was time to come home. For most of us that meant a four hour drive back to Al Ain, and for others it meant driving all the way back to Dubai – a bit longer than four hours I think. I really would like to hear from those who came along, as in our Mission Statement below.


T he mountain village of Misfah

Jabreen castle pottery
      O b s e r v e       –           R  e  c  o  r  d       R    E   P   O   R   T !
This broadsheet is published free to families in the Al Ain area. If you are a member planning an activity with a natural history theme please notify us so that others can join you. Everybody is able to contribute to ENHG and Emirates recordings. For more on our activities please visit our website <www.enhg.org> or join our e-mail discussion group at ENHG@Yahoogroups.com. The Group meets at 7.30pm on the 2nd & 4th Tuesday of the month, usually at the Intercontinental Hotel. New Members are welcome.

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The ENHG   Al Ain Chapter Newsletter…                         April, 2005– Issue #227
 

Ibri to Nizwa cont…

One of the Al Ayn tombs

Entryway to Sulaif

Strong sturdy date palms in the Al Ayn oasis provide shade
Most of the group walked up to the tombs below Jebel Misht


Jabreen Castle - never taken - 365 years old - housed 300 

Misfah village scene
pottery pots in Bahla

The Al Hamrah racers - raising money for local hospital fund
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The ENHG   Al Ain Chapter Newsletter…                         April, 2005– Issue #227
 
                                           The Nizwa Souq:                  article and photos by Louise Lambert

     The goat & livestock section, which is probably the most exciting area, where all the action occurs, demon-strates traditional domestic and public life all in one. The men and women will haul, pull, carry, drag their live-stock in the outside ring of the area where the livestock is "shown off." It's all very crowded but it all has an order. Once enough people have seen the goods for sale, the sellers carry the animals one by one into the center ring where the buyers form another circle on both sides. In effect, the seller and his animals prance in the middle circle, while the buyers form an inner and outer ring. The seller shouts, good ears, strong legs, good fat, 5 riyals, 6 riyals, who will buy this from me? Anytime anyone looks interested they will plunge their arm wrist deep into the crowd of people and attempt to get the animal or the seller's attention - since yelling is no use, everyone is shouting like at an auction floor - the seller will stop and the potential buyer will pull on the tail, tongue, ears, smack the animal's bottom to hear it bray, moo, cluck or what not. This is done very quickly as the circle keeps moving and the name of the game seems to be sell high, buy low and fast. Small groups of men and women will

The Nizwa goat souq in full flow


Pulling, patting and admiring the goats - how much - you say?

mutter to one another, what do you think, well, I got this one for 3 riyals, 4 riyals, what?! 4 riyals, you must be mad, 3.5 riyals, tops, but this one was bigger, ate better feed, look at his hooves. The reply, come on, praise be to Allah, I've got 4 more goats to sell, you want it, ok, 3.5 riyals, sold, cash is turned out, goats are passed overhead, larger beasts are yanked through the crowd with a lead rope and the helpers from outside the circle pass another animal overhead and the movement continues.
      The women get played up the most as they are in charge of anything domestic and do most of the buying and selling of the food for the family. The Omanis are very friendly people and everyone says hello and tries to sell you a goat whether you look like you'd need one or not. Outside the front gates of the fort (the souq is held inside), everyone has a truck, bus, van, or cart and there is even more action here as the animals get carted up onto roofs between couches, squash, laundry soap, tied down to bumpers, with 5 children running barefoot. It's very family oriented, often the younger men will bring their fathers and their sons, mothers will also bring their daughters to 'show them how it's done.' You can see mothers pushing the daughter from behind to yell louder, no, no, 5 riyals that's the best offer, don't back down. You're the lady here. The men are very respectful when the little boys try to sneak a stare, the old men whack them with the camel sticks and snap their tongues. The shababs understand and go back to minding their own business, although once granddad is out of site, they sneak smiles and waves. The older boys always say good morning and peace be upon you and are very nice often leaving their stores unattended to walk with you to show you where something is. Moving along into other areas of the souq the smells of fish heads, shark, fruit, flower, vegetables, leather, honey, halwa, and pottery mix together with the smiles and faces of the Omanis in the morning sun. Little boys in crisp clean white dishdashes shout hullo, how are yu? Wave, giggle and run back to daddy who waves at you too. You are welcome here. Definitely do visit.
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The ENHG   Al Ain Chapter Newsletter…                         April, 2005– Issue #227
 

                                  The Jebel Shams Cliff Walk:
                                                                                                article by Brien Holmes; photos by R. Morris

     Thirteen members completed the Jebel Shams Cliff Walk on the Thursday before joining the rest of the Al Ain members for the Nizwa – Manah tour Friday. For most of them, it was their first time to enjoy the spectacular sights of the gorge and Wadi Ghoul. The group all stayed at the campground on top of the mountain, most in the chalets but some camping.
      In recent years, the government of Oman has developed a number of hiking trails on the mountain, including a hike from the base of the mountain to the starting point of the cliff walk. Other trails head off in the ‘alpine’ country of the mountain, one of the highest in the Hajar range.
      The trail this season showed some signs of rainfall earlier in the year with small portions of the trail washed out and rebuilt. The hikers paused at the lookouts where stone cairns have been constructed by successive groups of hikers over the years.

Brien resting at the 2nd lookout cairns


Overlooking Wadi Ghoul

      At the village at the end of the walk, Sap Bani Khamis, the group spent almost an hour relaxing, exploring and enjoying the view. At least one member of the party hiked up to the reservoir above the settlement, at the base of the escarpment. The reservoir did have a supply of water though it could not be considered fresh. At the settlement, the small reservoir that feeds the two fallaj systems was damp and there was considerable evidence of water leaking from the mountainside. Fortunately, most of the highlights of the village are still intact. Though some of the items – gourds, dried pomegranates – have disappeared, the grinding stone is still in place and the houses are in good condition. The return portion of the hike was slowed when one member of the party was feeling a little under the weather. The group did, however, manage to tour Misfat before sunset, the popular tourist destination splendid in the afternoon sunlight.
Sap Bani Khamis


The grindstone still in place

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The ENHG   Al Ain Chapter Newsletter…                         April, 2005– Issue #227
 

I E W Revisited
                                   Al Wathba Wildlife Sanctuary
                                                                                             Article by MaryAnn Pardoe

Established in 1998 as the first legally recognised sanctuary in the Abu Dhabi emirate, the area covers 5 km2 and includes natural and semi-natural habitats split into three lakes. The first lake is fed by the cleaned water from the sewage plant. This runs into a brackish lake and finally into the furthest lake which is saline, fed by run off water from local farm irrigation.
The area supports more than 250 species of birds, more than half of the species found in the UAE. Also10spp of mammals, 13 species of reptiles and 40 species of plants. Several of the non-migratory species resident here include Black Winged Stilts, Bulbuls, Sun Birds and Reed Warblers. The sanctuary is ideally situated between Europe and the further destinations of migratory birds and provides a vital resting spot for these species.
John Newby, the director of the sanctuary, explained that their 5year plan included environmental education, select tourism for bird watchers and naturalists, and ecological research. A visitor centre is anticipated within the next year.
     Water quality is monitored automatically at five sites around the sanctuary. This equipment is solar powered and downloads information on temperature, ph and water levels directly onto a computer. Changes in ph and temperature can affect the population of Brine Shrimp which are the main food source for flamingos.
     One of the few tasks where external control is necessary is the cutting back of reed growth in the less saline areas. Left to their own devices the reeds would quickly encroach into the lakes. Reeds can be used for animal fodder or the manufacture of charcoal tablets, baskets or barasti fencing.
     Although this environment is on the fringes of suitability for flamingos, attempts have been made since 1993 to encourage these majestic birds to breed. Flooding has caused the greatest problems as the birds nest only a few centimetres above the water level and nests can get washed away. To prevent this, raised islands have recently been created and 30 to 40 flamingo pairs attempted to breed this year. Unfortunately the heavier rain resulted in eggs floating in to the lake. The next step appears to be the construction of a sluice gate to give accurate control of water levels. In spite of all the problems, flamingos did manage to breed a few years ago.
     Over 150 pairs of Kentish Plover are breeding at Al Wathba and these are being studied by researchers from Bath University, UK. Either one of the parent birds care for the eggs and young, or alternatively both, or neither. The researchers hope to determine what influences this parental behaviour. So far it appears that older birds are more responsible!
     While touring the area we saw the Desert Hyacinth in full flower. This parasitic plant is pollinated by insects and dies off several times each year. We were also fortunate to see a Spiny Tailed Lizard. About 50cm long, this large lizard lives in groups of 2-3 and hibernates in winter, closing off the entrance to its burrow so that it appears uninhabited. There is a population of 12 - 15 on the site.
     The trip was fascinating and we extend our sincere thanks to John Newby and his colleagues, Khaldoun Kiwan (manager of Al Wathba Reserve), Salim Javed (Avian Ecologist) and Andreas (research student), for their interesting tour. I have a copy of the bird list for the area which John Newby has kindly authorised for private use. Please e-mail me if you would like a copy at maryannepardoe@yahoo.co.uk. .

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The ENHG   Al Ain Chapter Newsletter…                         April, 2005– Issue #227
 

BOOK REVIEW –
FROM THE HOLY MOUNTAIN
- By William Dalrymple
Published in UK by HarperCollins 1997

article by Geoff Cosson

     From a western perspective, the Middle East is perceived as a sea of Islam, where the tiny minorities of other faiths in Lebanon & Palestine are constantly under threat. This has not always been so, and in this fascinating travel book, William Dalrymple shows how Christianity, which also originated from the same tradition as the other two monotheistic faiths, continued for centuries to exist and even thrive despite the growth of Islam. Even today, when emigration has been encouraged, about 14 million indigenous Christians still live in Syria and Egypt as well as in Lebanon and Palestine.
      I bought this book after visiting Damascus, where I was surprised at the number of new churches I saw, (alongside pictures of the Pope). I was equally surprised by the same thing in Cairo, where Copts have also constructed many new churches.
     This author follows the same route as an Orthodox monk, John Moschos, who wrote about his travels through the Middle East during the late sixth century, just about the same time as Islam was being established in Arabia. Moschos’ book was a best-seller in its day. Up to that time, this area was the base of Christianity, where the early church was strongest. Most of those early Christians who had letters from St. Paul, lived in what is now the Muslim world. The beliefs and philosophy of Christianity were thrashed out here, not in Rome, which was then of little importance. Dalrymple wanted to see whether it was possible to visit the same places today, especially the monasteries which provided accommodation for wandering scholars and travelers.

     His description of following this route today is really interesting, engagingly written, with maps and photographs. He describes the residents of forgotten monasteries in present-day Turkey, Syria and Egypt, who still eke out an existence, following ancient rituals, belonging often to Christian sects which seem more like abstruse survivals of the medieval world of doctrinal schisms. In recent times, however, the traditionally tolerant Muslim world has become a more difficult place to live. Until fairly recently (1980s), there were substantial numbers of Christians following the ‘Nestorian’ doctrine in Iraq, but most of these have now emigrated. The Syrian Orthodox Church has mostly disappeared (except for its unlikely descendant in Kerala). Huge numbers of Greek & Armenian Orthodox adherents once lived grandly in Alexandria and elsewhere along the Mediterranean coast, until the rise of modern Turkey (1920s) and of Nasser’s Egypt (1950s). The Maronites in Lebanon have lost their battle for dominance.

     These communities are generally in decline today, so Dalrymple’s journey may be harder to replicate in future. This is a totally enjoyable book, which casts new light on the evolving history of our region. It shows amongst other things that early Christianity was one new sect among many, and that some early writers saw Islam as another one of these new (Christian) sects. Early Christians prayed like today’s Muslims, and both communities shared common ‘saints’, just as Islam of course reveres the Old Testament fathers and Christ himself.

     This wonderful book provides a whole new perspective on our region’s history.

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The ENHG   Al Ain Chapter Newsletter…                         April, 2005– Issue #227
 
 A RETURN TO AL AIN, ITS BEETLES AND OTHER WILDLIFE
                                                                                                                       article by Mike Gillett, photos by B. Reimer
      I don’t think that there has ever actually been a popular song entitled “I Left My Heart in Al Ain”, but when I departed this green and splendid city last November, I reckoned that there ought to have been one. After all, I was turning away not just from more than 13 years of residence in Al Ain and a job at the Emirates University, but also from a host of dear friends and from one of the most vibrant natural history scenes in the whole Middle East. However, I was determined that my leaving was to be of the au revoir type and not a final farewell for I was confident of returning.
      On April 20, confidence distilled over into reality as I boarded an Emirates flight in Birmingham en route for Dubai and onward passage to Al Ain. Despite the most ungodly hour of my arrival, Brigitte, Chris and Luke, my hosts for the next 12 days, were all on hand to greet me and it was long past 04:00 when the last cup of tea was drained and we all finally retired. During our talk, Brigitte had sketched out what the programme was for my visit. It sure was going to be a busy and interesting 12 days of wadi trips and insect trapping sessions!


Mike Gillett – in the field

      Next day, the renewal of my experience with Al Ain’s wildlife began in earnest when, after lunch in Tawam, I slipped into the mixed plantation of ghaf and sid’r trees that separates the medical school from Tawam Hospital. My quest? To check out the ghaf trees for a colony of the large and spectacular Sulphurous Jewel Beetle (Julodis euphratica) that I had been studying for the last five years or so. A 10-minute walk confirmed the healthy status of the colony as over 50 of these wonderous coleopterans, including several mating pairs, were sighted in trees. One beetle was noisily droning around one of the trees, revealing as it turned, the bright yellow top of its abdomen, which together with the yellow dusted sides of the wing-cases explains its common name. My observations confirmed that all sedentary beetles sighted were in the ghaf and not the sid’r trees. Julodis beetles are polyphagous on many trees and other plants and in the Mediterranean region, sid’r is a preferred host of all species. So why is this plant not attractive to Arabian Julodis (including also J. callaudi and J. fimbriata in our region)?
      That same night, we undertook our first light-trapping session out in Oman at a site near Wadi Safwan where we had trapped together some 6 months ago and where Brigitte et al had visited a few weeks earlier after the rains. For me the session was an interesting one as insects proved to be much more common than they were last October, but apparently not as common or as diverse as some weeks previously. Amongst the mixed array of moths, bugs, grasshoppers, antlions, wasps etc., the beetles were what mostly grabbed my attention, although Bobs discovery of a new and beautiful species of owl-fly must not go unnoticed. The beetles attracted to the light were varied, but perhaps most striking was the fact that some of the insects represented species that, although common seven years ago, had all but disappeared during the recent spate of dry years. The most obvious of these was the handsome oil beetle Cylindrothorax angusticollis suturalis, a vesicant insect whose body fluids (as Bob Reimer can testify) raise blisters on the skin. Two other long-lost friends restored that night were the searcher beetle, Campalita imbricatum, and the domino beetle, Anthia duodecimguttata. Also recorded in this same category was the migratory Silver Striped Hawkmoth Hippotion celerio, common only in rainy
years, and not
Cylindrothorax angusticollis suturalis

A Blister Beetle
Hippotion celerio

A Silver-Striped Hawk Moth
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The ENHG   Al Ain Chapter Newsletter…                         April, 2005– Issue #227
 
 A RETURN TO AL AIN cont...
seen by me since 1998. Several specimens of a previously unrecorded oil beetle were also captured and await identification. The night was rounded off by the capture of an aggressive black scorpion and a male camel spider, both of which were duly handed over to Bill Jones.

Camel Spider - Solfugidae family

      Tuesday was a day with no scheduled fieldwork as it was to be the day of my presentation to the Group at its evening meeting at the Al Ain Intercon-tinental Hotel. The talk was entitled “Beetle Giant of the UAE” and des-cribed the field studies I had conducted during September – November 2004 at Wadi Towayya on the longhorn beetle, Anthracocentrus arabicus together with a collaborative effort with Martin Rejzek on another similar beetle, A. rugiceps, he had collected in southern Iran. After the meeting, I encountered two interesting dynastine beetles attracted to the hotel lights, the rhinoceros beetle, Oryctes agamemnon arabicus, and the lawn beetle, Pentodon algerinum dispar. Both species were long considered as Arabian rarities, but the greening

of the UAE’s deserts has provided perfect conditions for them and they are now common pests of lawns in Al Ain and elsewhere. On the way home, we dropped by a quiet street in Habooy, Markhaniya next to an old date plantation to look for the large longhorn beetle Jebussaea hammerschmidti at the street lights. No beetles, but we did see a Brandt’s Hedgehog, which quite possibly might account for their absence!
      Wednesday afternoon saw Brigitte and I heading off into Oman again, this time in the very interesting company of Zaki Nusseibeh. En route to Mahdah and A’bul, we stopped to admire the showy pink clumps of Boerhavia elegans and the spiky pale blue flowers of Echinops. The latter provided the first beetles of the trip, the black and white or yellow rose chafer, Stalagmosoma cynanche. One specimen of the Sulphurous Jewel Beetle was also seen. Our trip continued with a visit to the newly restored fort at Mahdah and the nearby oasis. Then on to A’bul and first, a walk around the wadi, then a visit to the ruined fort and a view of the geckoes and mouse-tailed bats within. The trip was crowned by a cautious ascent of one of the fort’s towers to watch the sun setting behind the mountains and a slow climb back down in the dark! Back in Al Ain, we were invited to Zaki’s house for refreshments and a chance to see his splendid library. Even this memorable occasion was not without its beetles, for Brigitte discovered no less than three species trapped in the water feature in Zaki’s garden, the chafer Autoserica insanablis and the searchers, Campalita imbricatum and Caminara olivieri.
      Thursday morning saw us yet again on our way with a larger party to yet another mountain locality in Oman, Wadi Musah. We visited the spring that is the source of some of the water used to irrigate the plantations and walked around the oasis for several hours. Interesting finds included the ‘log cabin’ like protective tube of the psychid moth caterpillar Amicta murina and the perfectly formed clay jar made by a potter wasp according to Brigitte and I or by leprecauns according to Brien. Back in Al Ain, we met up with Sharjah lepidopterist Peter Merrett and his wife Joy who were to accompany us moth trapping that night in Jebel Huwwaya or Fossil Valley. Despite the abundance of green flowering plants around the ghaf and Acacia trees, the results of the trapping session were quite poor compared to the previous one and few notable species were recorded.
      Friday morning saw a dozen or so of us visiting Subaitha in Oman, for a walk along the falaj to a swimming hole in the mountains. The trip was memorable for the large variety of butterflies encountered en route. These included not just the common species like the Plain Tiger, Lime, Desert White, African Three-Ring, Blue Pansy and Painted Lady, but also the rare and elusive Baluchi Ringlet. A notable beetle found on the oleander bushes was the large jewel beetle, Julodis fimbriata.
      Saturday and Sunday were almost restful as far as entomology goes. On the first night, a short light trapping session near the Intercontinental Hotel was improvised. It proved quite popular amongst the local Baluchi labourers, but was not very successful in terms of insects recorded. The second day saw me visiting Sharjah University and my sole diversion into the realm of entomology was to uncover a few examples of unrecognized species of darkling beetle Goniocephalum in the desert adjacent to University City.
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The ENHG   Al Ain Chapter Newsletter…                         April, 2005– Issue #227
 
 A RETURN TO AL AIN cont...
      Monday was a baby-sitting night for me, although Luke and I did set up the moth trap in the garden, we ran it only for a short time, but did manage to prove the presence of antlions. Next day saw us at the ENHG workroom at the Al Ain English Speaking School, now known as the ENHG Resources Centre! During the proceedings, experiences of recent trips were shared, new records discussed and above all, a most ambitious programme was put forward for the imminent three-day weekend!
      Wednesday morning was taken up by a hot, but excellent excursion in the Khudrah area of Oman to see the beginnings of Wadi Sharm and its hidden waterfall as well as the extensive and mysterious archaeological sites nearby. Notable beetles encountered along the way were members of the poisonous family Meloidae or oil/blister beetles. One was the very smart pinstriped charcoal and grey beetle named Epicauta haemorrhoidalis, because of its bright red head. My very first article written for Tribulus more than 10 years ago concerned this beetle. It is found on Fagonia indica bushes and it makes good use of the plants thorns for its own protection as shown by my own bloodied fingertips after collecting a couple! The other species was a bright orange and black striped species of Mylabris, the colour scheme advertising for all to see the venomous nature of this insect.
Epicauta haemorrhoidalis

A smart pinstriped charcoal and grey beetle

      Wednesday evening was to be the highlight of my return visit with a very successful moth trapping session in Wadi Shik, a valley running into Wadi Agran. It would take too long here to recount all that came to the light, but there were lots and lots of interesting insects: owl-flies, lacewings, hawkmoths, antlions, bugs, grass-hoppers, crickets, katydids, earwigs and more beetles than I can remember, including 5 large water beetle species and also an equally aquatic whirligig beetle. This was my best light trapping session to date and augers well I hope for my forthcoming trip to Brazil.
      Thursday morning saw us up early again, this time on our way to one of our all-time favourite locations – Khutwah. Whilst Brigitte stayed in the oasis with Luke and his friend Eoin playing in the water, the others set out to see some of the local archaeology. I tagged along

but was soon side-tracked by an abundance of butterflies and other insects along the way. My prize record was of another unseasonably early example of Julodis fimbriata on a plant of Tephrosia apollinea rather than the usual oleander.
      That evening was to be the last but one of the light trapping sessions - this time at Musah. The trap was duly set up as the others headed off for their moonlight walk in the mountains. The results were disappointing compared to Wadi Shik, but this probably reflected the fact that this was a man-made habitat at Musah not the wild Wadi Shik.     
     Nevertheless, the records in retrospect were interesting. Most of the moths that are associated with oases turned up, together with antlions, preying mantids, wasps, bugs, grasshoppers. The star capture was taken right at the very last moment before the light was switched off – a large new and unknown chafer beetle from the sub-family Rutelinae. Something else to work on in the coming months!

A Preying Mantis (Mantidae) eating a Blister Beetle

A Spotted water beetle
     The morning of my last day of this return visit was spent at Jabeeb in the desert north of Al Ain where the emphasis was on searching the inter-dune areas of the “Women’s Majlis “ for artifacts such as jewelry and coins.
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The ENHG   Al Ain Chapter Newsletter…                         April, 2005– Issue #227
 
 A RETURN TO AL AIN cont...
      Only one coin was found together with a few pieces of glass jewelry, some parts of a bronze pot and much ceramic pottery. It was also interesting to note the remains of many beetles that had perished in the sands. Some had died that very morning and were fresh, others had succumbed long ago and their carapaces showed obvious signs of bleaching. Species recognized included Erodius saudarabicus, Prionotheca coronata ovalis and Pimelia arabicus emiri, all from the darkling beetle family Tenebrionidae. Another interesting find was of a female black scarab beetle, Scarabaeus bannuensis, excavating a tunnel in which to bury her brood ball of camel dung after laying a single egg within it.
      The evening was a long awaited night visit to Wadi Tarabat along the flank of Jebel Hafit. A site long known to Brigitte and I during the research that led to our contribution to the recent ADCO-sponsored book about the natural history, geology and archaeology of the mountain. Despite the full moon and windy conditions, both of which are detrimental to light trapping, a good time was had and a few notable records made. One of these was of a mole-cricket, Gryllotalpa sp., suspected of being present on Jebel Hafit, but hitherto unconfirmed. Another was for the beautiful tiger beetle Lophra histrio, previously recorded at Green Mubazarara.
Lophra histrio

Tiger Beetle

     Well all good things come to an end and so too did my 12-day return to Al Ain and the ENHG. It was a memorable visit and one that will not be soon forgotten. At the end of the day it was not just about a reunion with the insects of Al Ain, but of a reunion with many friends in Al Ain. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have shared in the many ENHG activities outlined above and I heartedly thank everyone involved.

 

Until the next time…………… Mike Gillett, Birmingham, UK.

Mantispidae

      
Gryllotalpa sp

A Mole-Cricket
    And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried: Look at this Godawful mess. ~Art Buchwald, 1970
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The ENHG   Al Ain Chapter Newsletter…                           April, 2005– Issue #227
 
                 The Annual ENHG Photography Contest - 2005
     May 24th saw 25 members competing with 145 photographs in 8 categories plus a People’s Choice Award. There were 39 winners and sixteen honorable mentions. The Intercontinental Resort Hotel hosted the show in their lovely Majlis room. The finger food, coffee, tea and juices were provided by the ENHG. The eight categories were: Archeology and Architecture, Field Trips and Care of the Environment, Heritage and Culture, those two lovely sisters - Flora and Fauna, Miscellaneous, the special theme for this competition – Patterns, People of the UAE and Oman, and finally ‘Scapes. The judging for these categories was done before-hand, so the evening involved picking up your ballot – a weighty task – walking about viewing the entries – all posted on the ENHG’s portable bulletin boards – and choosing three “people’s choice” pictures - truly an impossible task. Here then are some of the amazing winning photographs.
People’s Choice – 1st prize (Tie) – Geoff Sanderson –
Also 1st Prize in Heritage & Culture Category

“As Time Goes By”
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The ENHG   Al Ain Chapter Newsletter…                           April, 2005– Issue #227
 
                 The Annual ENHG Photography Contest - 2005
 People’s Choice – 1st Prize (Tie) – Trevor Dinn –
Also 1st Prize in the ‘Scapes Category

“Mystic Villages”
Architecture & Archeology – 1st Prize – Mike Green

“Windows”
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The ENHG   Al Ain Chapter Newsletter…                            April, 2005– Issue #227
 
                 The Annual ENHG Photography Contest - 2005
 Field Trips & Care of the Environment – 1st Prize (Tie) - Nasseer Ommer

“Curious Reflections”
Field Trips & Care of the Environment – 1st Prize (Tie) – Bob Reimer

“The Agama Whisperer”
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The ENHG   Al Ain Chapter Newsletter…                           April, 2005– Issue #227
 
                 The Annual ENHG Photography Contest - 2005
 Flora & Fauna – 1st Prize (Tie) – Bob Reimer

“Plain Tiger butterflies (Damaus Chrysippus) mating”
Flora & Fauna – 1st Prize (Tie) – Mike Green

“Not Another Bloody Camel Photo!”
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The ENHG   Al Ain Chapter Newsletter…                           April, 2005– Issue #227
 
                 The Annual ENHG Photography Contest - 2005

 Patterns – 1st Prize– Tana Thompson

“Stairway to Heaven”

People of the UAE & Oman – 1st Prize – Geraldine Kershaw

“Problem Solving”
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The ENHG   Al Ain Chapter Newsletter…                           April, 2005– Issue #227
 
                 The Annual ENHG Photography Contest - 2005

Miscellaneous – 1st Prize – Bob Reimer

“Hot to Trot”

     There were just so many great pictures – it is a shame not to show them all – but…there’s always next year, eh? Congratulations to all who participated – we are all winners – both entrants and audience – let’s get busy and start thinking about taking more pictures – about sending them in to the newsletter – and writing about them – you don’t have to wait for the photo competition you know .
Notice:

     As most of you are aware, Becky and Murphy Turner have been going through some very difficult times – our hearts and prayers go out to them as they walk this last passage together. Be strong Becky – know you are loved – you remain in our hearts Murphy – as always!

Editor’s Note:

This will be the last issue of the newsletter for the 2004-2005 season. Sad to say, I didn’t manage to report on even 30% of the things we did during the year – I need replacing or reinforcements – anyone interested in helping out, please step forward in September – there’s just too much going on for one person to keep up with it all – See you all next year then!

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

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