Bulletin 22 - March 1984: Chairman's Report

Chairman's Report

The strength of any voluntary group such as ours is totally dependent on the interest and willingness to participate of the individuals involved. Bearing in mind that the main aim of the ENHG is to encourage and assist members in the study and appreciation of the natural history and history of the UAE specifically, and the outside world in general, I feel that 1983 has been a fairly successful year. We welcomed a number of new faces, including speakers and recorders, while behind the scenes several people continued to put in a significant contribution to the Group's well-being.

As in previous years our main activity has been centred on the evening meetings held on the first and third Monday of each month. As usual only one meeting per month was held in July and August, and this year for the first time just one in September due to a clash of dates with the Eid holiday. Including last year's AGM there was a total of 21 meetings, and a list of these will be published in the forthcoming Bulletin.

137 membership cards were valid for 1983, compared with 118 for 1982. Remember that these figures include family membership, therefore a higher total of individuals is actually represented.

Bulletins 19, 20 and 21 appeared in March, July and November respectively and these included a range of topics directly relevant to local natural history, such as observations of various bird species around Abu Dhabi Island, red foxes in the Al Ain area, and the vegetation of the country. Also included were a variety of recordings, notably on fish, moths and bees and wasps. Since the Bulletin is our only record of recordings in published form, it serves as a contribution towards future and deeper research into the natural history of the region. The policy of concluding each Bulletin with an article in Arabic, begun in 1982, was continued. 1983 saw Arabic articles on the history of Middle Eastern maps, the archaeology of the UAE, and Gulf whale recordings. My thanks go to Anwar Shukry who has very willingly undertaken all the translations. Such articles will be continued in an effort to expand the Group's interests despite the lack of response from native Arabic speakers to date.

The monthly newsletter is now an established medium for informing you, the members, of coming talks and events. After experimenting with the occasional expanded version it was tacitly decided to shorten the format to provide essential information only. Henceforth the Bulletin will take over the role of providing longer reports and observations.

Under the guidance of Ian Hamer and Sandra Wooderson a number of field trips were arranged during the year. visits included the Wady Fay near Hatta, Fossil Valley and the Wadi Agram, Bujair Plantation and Liwa, the Jebel Dhanna area and Umm an Nar. Several members were also active on private trips, some of which provided useful recording information, though admittedly not as much as we would have liked.

As I mentioned at the beginning, it is individuals who really make the Group viable and this is especially true of our recorders. Throughout our brief seven year history certain subjects, such as Ornithology, Archaeology and Insects have always been popular, and it is therefore gratifying to report that 1983 witnessed the expansion of some of the less well-known recording activities, such as Mammals, Marine and freshwater fish, Plants, Bees and Wasps, and Geology. I would like to single out Liz Aston (Geology), Roger Brown (Marine life) and Ian Hamer (Bees and Wasps) who have each made significant contributions.

After a quiet year in 1982, our Workroom was used more frequently in 1983. The fourth Monday of each month was, and is, a general workroom night, and most of the recorders also held additional meetings on their particular interests. Roger Brown has been especially active in organising fish identification and recording workshops and I am assured that such sessions will continue through 1984. The Library has not expanded a great deal but a consignment of reference books is expected in the near future.

To celebrate the seventh anniversary of the Group's founding, an Open Day was held in November in the workroom and this attracted a large number of members and non-members. As a result of this effort the room now houses several permanent exhibitions of various recording activities.

Once again the services of the Group were called upon by ADCO to provide technical information and photographs for their 1982 Annual Review. This time the selected topic was Seashells of the UAE and Cathy Kirby, who has since, alas, left Abu Dhabi, is to be congratulated on the time and effort she spent on behalf of the Group in accomplishing this task at short notice.

The Group continues to correspond with several organisations including the Ornithological Society of the Middle East, the Royal Botanical Gardens at Edinburgh and like-minded groups in the Gulf. Bulletins, newsletters and other correspondence are exchanged regularly between ourselves and the Al Ain Branch of the ENHG, which, however, emphasises social activities and family trips rather than actually recording aspects of local natural history. On the other hand their monthly newsletter does frequently contain serious articles particularly by staff at Al Ain Zoo and Aquarium. The prospect of a Branch in Dubai never materialised though we continue to feel strongly that Dubai and the Northern Emirates could easily support such a group and, indeed, there is scope for much more recording activities in those regions.

Finally returning to individuals. Some of you have only been in Abu Dhabi a short while, some for a few years, and I think I am right in saying that there are only one or two original members left. The one with us here tonight I am sure needs no introduction to anybody. But this situation does highlight one of our main problems, that of frequent changes not only in general membership, but also of Group officers. 1983 was no exception. The departure of Val Stokell, Muriel Giles and Cathy Kirby resulted in a depleted Committee, since only Liz Aston was subsequently co-opted.

However, on the bright side, there were additions in other areas. I have already mentioned Geology and Liz Aston. Another newcomer was Dave Rowlands, who with minimal arm-twisting took over the mammal portfolio from Val Stokell. I would like to thank all past and present Committee members for their valuable contributions during the year -- Terry Donohue as Treasurer, a backstage but vital role; Jean Burn as Secretary and Advertiser -- Jean is responsible for ensuring that notices are updated in various supermarkets and on the radio; Sandra Wooderson who, besides providing a sometimes hectic but much-desired service behind the tea bar is also in charge of the Library; Abdulla Dawood who, though rarely seen did in fact turn up for one meeting in 1983; and of course, Bish Brown, still firm favourite as elder statesman of the Group and who provides valuable help in all aspects of our activities. I have referred to some of the recorders, but all deserve recognition for their contributions. Those not yet mentioned are Jenny Hollingworth for Ornithology, Bish Brown for Reptiles, Moths and Butterflies, and Diane Donohue for Insects in general. Last but not least, I would like to thank you, the members, for sticking with us through the year and giving support to our speakers and workroom sessions. Very occasionally programmes had to be rearranged at short notice but you suffered willingly and supported us nevertheless. May I express the hope that you get as much enjoyment from the ENHG in 1984.


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