Bulletin 38 - July 1989: Comments


As the hot days of summer advance it is easy to sit back and relax in air-conditioned comfort, to push away thoughts of field trips until the weather cools down in a few months time. Unfortunately, half the year can be spent in such self-indulgent luxury and meanwhile little recording gets done. Bird-watching is perhaps one exception, since this activity can be carried out in the early morning and evening around Abu Dhabi town itself. Most other recording areas, however, require effort to get off the Island and tend to take low priority in summer. The beach beckons. This is a pity, as life carries on even in an arid environment and there is so much to be missed by staying at home. There are several plant families, for example, with local species that are summer flowering, some of them most attractive. Mountain wadis are now full of oleanders in full bloom while along the Al Ain road bright yellow Tribulus flowers and waxy white Convolvulus trumpets create early morning show-gardens. Acacias and Prosopis trees are in flower, small fluffy balls or dangling 'catkins', and these are home to a variety of nesting birds in early summer.

Flowers attract insects, of course. I shall never forget one July morning in the Uyaynat gorge near Dibba, attempting to balance against a sheer cliff while photographing the magnificent petals and stamens of a Caper bush. There were so many bees, wasps, hornets and hoverflies swarming around that both camera and person were clustered, yet fortunately not once was I stung.

July and August Eid trips create the opportunity for camping and very early morning recording and photography, while the air is still and clear. Foxes, hares and who knows what around the next bend? Those first two or three summer hours after sunrise have so often proved rewarding. Leave breakfast until it gets too hot.

This issue reintroduces the Miscellany pages which give short recording notices and other snippets of information. There are often records and observations in the monthly Newsletters which are then forgotten, so the more important and unusual will be recorded on the Miscellany pages.

Colin Richardson's first (but hopefully not last) article for us deals with the status of the Great Grey Shrike. Colin is renowned for his dedicated and scientific approach to ornithology and is a contributor both to the Atlas of Breeding Birds of Arabia (ABBA) and to the Ornithological Society of the Middle East (OSME). Another fascinating bird record comes from Peter Hellyer, our Vice-Chairman, who reports on sightings of Mynahs and Starlings in Abu Dhabi earlier this year.

Bish Brown, of course, needs no introduction, though he is now cast in the unfamiliar role of Group Treasurer. In this issue Bish reports on a variety of rodents in the UAE; future articles will deal with his main recording interests, reptiles and some insect species.

While on insects, Dave Heath contributes an article on Dragonflies of Das Island; meanwhile, Dave is preparing a detailed piece on wildlife photography relevant to the UAE.


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