Bulletin 5 - July 1978: Correspondence


In response to a letter from the recorder for flora, requesting information ab9ut local plant life, the following was received from Riad Halwagy of the Botany Department at Kuwait University.

Concerning books and papers dealing with Kuwait plants, I am sending reprints of the paper you requested, plus two other papers dealing with the environment and vegetation. Useful books include:

  1. K. H. Rechinger (1964). Flora of Lowland Iraq. Cramer, Weinheim.
  2. A. H. Migahid (1974) Flora of Saudi Arabia. University of Riyadh.
  3. V. Tackholm (1974). Student's Flora of Egypt. Second edition -- Anglo -- Egyptian Bookshop, Cairo, Egypt.

Book No.1 contains very useful keys and very accurate detailed descriptions, but no illustrations whatsoever.

Book No.2 is more relevant to the area, and contains many illustrations, keys and brief descriptions.

Book No.3 contains many good illustrations, with keys and brief descriptions.

I also thought of the other branch of Natural History, i.e., Zoology. Recently two colleagues at the University of Kuwait made a survey of some Kuwait reptiles. I am sending volumes I and II of the Journal of the University of Kuwait (Science) where you can find this, and other articles. If you wish, I can place your name on our mailing list for subsequent volumes of the Journal.

If there are any further inquiries, please do not hesitate to write. I also welcome receiving your news, newsletter, publications, etc.

Best wishes,
Yours sincerely
(Riad Halwagy)

The following is an extract from a letter by Michael Jennings, 16 A Warwick Gardens, London W. 14.

Thank you for publishing my letter of 10th October (see Bulletin No. 3) on the occurrence of White Tailed Plover (Vanellus Leucurus) in Central Saudi Arabia. Since my letter I have had brought to my attention two occurrences of the species over-wintering on the Arabian side of the Gulf. Firstly, Mrs. Effie Warr has pointed out that a bird was present during the whole of the winter of 1968-69 on Bahrain. Secondly, Mark Hollingworth has told me that at least one was present on Abu Dhabi Island in December 1977, and January 1978. My view of its status if therefore changed to "Uncommon Passage Migrant and Rare Winter Visitor" for the Arabian side of the Gulf. It occurs more often on the Iranian side of the Gulf in winter.

The sighting of a Black Francolin (Francolinus Francolinus) in Abu Dhabi as recorded in Bulletin No.3 is indeed interesting news. The only other record I know of for the Arabian peninsula (i.e., south of Jordan and Iraq) is one in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia, on 6th January 1924, seen by Ticehurst and Cheeseman. The locality is typical for the species (reed beds, dense vegetation, irrigation ditches, etc.) but no more have been seen there since. I searched on several occasions for it in the area and listened for its distinctive call but to no avail. (Its call, incidentally, is the best indication of presence as it carries a great distance and even the most casual of observers would notice it.) These two isolated records of the Black Francolin are puzzling. They are not known to be migratory and the nearest breeding areas are, according to Vauvie ("The Birds of the Palearctic Faunal'), in southern Iraq and south-west Iran. Presumably erratic individual movement is involved. Or might there be a small isolated population in the UAE and eastern Arabia? Judging from the localities in Cyprus where I have seen this bird it would seem there are plenty of places it would find suitable breeding habitat in the UAE. Observers should have no trouble distinguishing the male (there is an illustration in the Meinzel Field Guide) but the duller streaked and spotted female is similar to both sexes of the Grey Francolin (Francolinus Pondicevianus) which occurs in several localities near Dubai.

I would like to bring the attention of your members to one other bird in which I am particularly interested. The Namaqua Dove (Oena Capensis) has greatly extended its range in Arabia over the last 2 or 3 years. It has now reached as far north as the Gulf of Aqaba and as far east as the Gulf coast near Dhahran in Saudi Arabia. I am plotting the expansion of the species and I would be very grateful for any details or record of this dove in the UAE. Observations of the species suddenly appearing at localities previously well-watched would be particularly valuable.

Your sincerely,
Michael Jennings


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