Bulletin 3 - October 1977: Correspondence


We have recently received a letter from Michael Jennings, 76A Warwick Gardens, London, W14. (dated 10th October, 1977), commenting on one of the articles published in the Groups Bulletin No.1.

The following extract is taken from Mr. Jennings' letter:

". . . I was interested to read in Bulletin No.1, John Stewart-Smith's article on Waders in the UAE. I was surprised however to see his comments on the status of the White-tailed Plover in Central Arabia. I have recently returned from two years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and during that time I only saw three White-tailed Plover (all together one day in September 1975). As all my free time was spent watching and ringing birds I do not think I would have overlooked many and therefore I cannot agree with John Stewart-Smith's statement that they occur in groups of 5 -10 around Riyadh and his implication that they are a wintering species in the area.

"One aspect of Arabia Ornithology which impresses all those who have spent some time in the area (I've had 5 years) is that each year is different. Perhaps John Stewart-Smith was in Riyadh during a time when exceptional numbers of White-tailed Plover were passing through. In any event I would be grateful if he could give me more exact details of numbers, dates and places of his sightings of the species in Central Arabia.

"From my notes and some knowledge of the records of others I would give the status of the White-tailed Plover in Central Arabia, The Gulf and UAE as Uncommon Passage Migrant? I am not aware of any wintering records . . ."

John Stewart-Smith
21 Pound Road
Bury, Huntingdon
England PE17 ILB

Tel: 0487-812763

The Secretary
Emirates Natural History Group
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

Dear 'Bish'

It is with the deepest regret that I must resign as Chairman of the Emirates Natural History Group. My wife must, with equal regret, resign her position as Editor of the "Bulletin".

We are forced to leave the Emirates very suddenly, so will not have the opportunity to say good-bye and thank you to all the members of ENHG (AD). We both hope that we can maintain links with the Group through personal contact and, please, future issues of the "Bulletin". We would also like to be allowed to keep our membership going for as long as the ENHG (AD) continues to function, which I'm sure will be a long, long time.

Many thanks to all Committee Members, past and present, for the excellent work performed to form the ENHG (AD) and to keep it going. I'm very sorry that my sudden departure forces me to abandon so many projects which were in my mind, without really finishing anything. Some day, perhaps, there will be an area set aside on Abu Dhabi Island where the birds can be safe from disturbance; maybe there will be breeding flamingos here; perhaps the Socotra Cormorants in the Gulf will not be wiped out after all; I hope that the vital nature of the UAE as a link in the migration chain will be realised before the habitat is 'developed' off the face of the earth.

Perhaps now that I've been forced to leave the Gulf I will find fewer excuses for delaying the production of my book on the 'Birds of the UAE.' The first copy from the printers is reserved for the ENHG (AD) Library!!

Our house will always be open, and we look forward to welcoming many callers from amongst the members of the ENHG (AD).

(J. Stewart-Smith)

The Editor
The ENHG Bulletin
Abu Dhabi

South Croydon
Surrey, England
14 July 1977

Dear Madam

I was delighted to receive the first two issues of the ENHG Bulletin and would like to congratulate everyone concerned with the formation of the Group and the production of its excellent publications.

For some time now I have been attempting, with the help of Major M. D. Gallagher and Terry Rogers, to compile a check-list of birds of the Arabian Gulf States, so it is with particular interest that I read the ornithological notes of John Stewart-Smith. With reference to his note on Greyleg Goose it may be worth noting that one was recorded by J.J.R. Wingfield at Abu Dhabi Island on 15th November and during December, 1969. He was a little uncertain of its identity at the time but we now know that the Greyleg Goose does occasionally visit the Arabian coast in the winter months.

Yours sincerely,
Effie Warr
(Mrs. F. E. Warr)

P.O. Box 3116
Abu Dhabi

11 August 1977

Dear Editor

On a visit to Al Ain, in July, we went into the fort, Qasr al-Khandaq. There was a boy living there but he did not seem to mind us looking round. Anyway we went into the round tower, which was on the far left looking from the gate. While looking round I saw, in a hole in the wall, a sleeping Barn Owl. It had a very pale brown back and a white face. It had its eyes tightly shut and I do not think it noticed us even though we were only about eight inches away from it.

Are there many owls in the Emirates?

Are there many different kinds?

Yours sincerely
Robert Preston

Editor's Note:

The Group has only been keeping records for a few months, so from these records owls appear very scarce. Earlier in the year John Stewart-Smith mentioned seeing an adult Scops 0wl with two young in a tree at Fujairah


In a privately circulated list compiled by Mrs. F.E. Warr, and titled "Birds Recorded in the United Arab Emirates and The Musandam Peninsula (Oman), Including Buraimi and the Offshore Islands", seven different species are recorded. These are:

Barn Owl Tyto alba
Eagle Owl Bubo bubo
Long-eared Owl Asio otus
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus
Scop's Owl Otus scops
Bruce's Scops Owl Otus brucei
Little Owl Athene noctua

Owls, like most birds of prey, eat all their quarry, swallowing bones, feathers and fur. To rid themselves of the indigestible parts they regurgitate them in the form of pellets. Next time you find an owl look around for some of these pellets. An expert can identify the food a particular species eats from the remains.


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