Bulletin 36 - November 1988: Comments


With this Bulletin we complete 36 consecutive issues over a twelve year period. In that time the March, July and November Bulletins have recorded a variety of field trips, expeditions and a host of Members' observations. In the very early days just trying to discover the name of a certain plant, fish or insect was a problem and as far as the Group was concerned the UAE had not begun to be explored. Natural history information was virtually non-existent. I remember it was a couple of years before "Embassy No.1" was identified as Dipterigium glaucum, now known to be a very common plant species of the caper-family. The discarded cigarette packet next to which it had originally been discovered remained the reference point for 'Bish' Brown and myself for months.

Now, twelve years on, it is safe to say that the information included in Bulletin articles is increasingly sophisticated and detailed. Although some early articles were specific, it was rare to have an in-depth account of anyone subject (John Stewart-Smith's accounts of UAE wading birds in Bulletins No.1 and 4 were exceptions), and in a plea for identifications we resorted to titles such as "Solanaceae?" In more recent years, of course, we have had series of much more scientific recordings of bees and wasps, plants, birds, fish and archaeological 'digs'. Now we. are in a position to be fairly precise with identifications. This has been made possible by those contributors who have taken the time and trouble to observe, to follow up interests and above all to record in writing. We have always maintained as a Group that recording is our primary function, while specialists in various fields have analysed the data. Along with the Al Ain and Dubai Groups we have done our bit to put natural history on the map of the UAE.

Dr. W.R.P. Bourne and Chris van Riet both contributed to the last Bulletin and in this issue we publish follow-ups, again on Gulf marine observations, especially with reference to birds. Len Reaney's summary of his Das bird records is finally published here, having been held over from No.35 because of lack of space.

An unusual article is that on bats by 'Bish' Brown. Odd bat recordings do come in from time to time but our knowledge of these creatures in the UAE remains very limited. It would be a very worthwhile project if an ENHG Member were to study them in detail. Even if you don't go to the Hafit caves every weekend, there may be a few lurking around Abu Dhabi these days. I've certainly get the odd glimpse on Das.

The flints from Jebel Mahijir were collected over several visits. At the southern end of the Jebel is a sand-filled overhang that would seem to have been tailor-made for a Stone Age shelter. This outcrop would repay a systematic and professional archaeological survey.

Finally, the article on plant adaptations was originally written for the proposed Al Ain Group magazine. When that project failed to materialise, we were given their collection of articles for Bulletin publication. This article is the last of that collection, updated in the intervening couple of years.


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