Bulletin 36 - November 1988: Arabian Gulf Observations

Arabian Gulf Observations

by Dr. W.R.P. Bourne

(Dr. Bourne contributed an article on Seabirds in the last issue of the Bulletin. In various correspondence to the Editor and to J.N.B. 'Bish' Brown, the following points of interest have arisen. - Ed.)

Abstract of: H. Hoogstraal, R.M. Oliver and S.S. Guirgis 1970.
Larva, nymph and life cycle of Ornithodorus (Alectorobius) muesebecki (Ixodoidea: Argasidae), a virus-infested parasite of birds and petroleum industry employees in the Arabian Gulf. (Ann. Entom. Soc. Amer. 63: 1762-8.) A tick first collected on Masked Boobies of Hasikiya Island, Kuria Murias, in 1964, attacked visitors to a radio relay station on otherwise uninhabited Zirqa Island 70mi. off Abu Dhabi. The island is 6 sq.mi. in area and rises to 500 ft, with no vegetation. "Numerous cormorants nest close to each other in shallow depressions or slight gravel beds in the dry, stony foothills away from the coastal plain. Ospreys nest on large stone platforms on rock pinnacles. Both species appear on Zirqa towards the end of August and remain to early February. Chicks hatch in early December and fly by the end of January." In 1969 there was some rain in April, Oct. and Nov., but none in Dec; RMO found no ticks in June, but plenty in Nov.-Dec; people who were bitten developed infected sores around the bites and complained of an itch and headache, and had a raised temperature for some days but soon recovered. An arbovirus was isolated from the ticks related to another carried by related ticks on the guano islands of Peru. (Oliver was apparently an oil company doctor who died in obscure circumstances soon afterwards and they could tell me no more about his observations; these viruses may also cause encephalitis and are potentially dangerous).

Reference past Bulletin entries on bird ringing in the Gulf, Dr. Bourne has the following comments:

The Russians ring an awful lot of birds, and must get more returns than F.E. Warr lists in Bulletin 13:6. The problem is that all these big schemes get bogged down in their own bureaucracy and the problem lies in extracting records from them. The fact that the recoveries include a young "Herring" Gull from the Aral Sea means that (as I thought) you are getting the form cachinnans, which Meinertzhagen specified was not yet reported from Iraq or the Gulf. He did not mention armenicus either.

With reference to the excellent bird notes by Ian Fraser on Zirca Island (14:27), Ian Foxall on Qarnayn (27:5) and Len Reaney on Das (30:2), we ought perhaps do something about getting General Cowley's report on Sir Abu Nayr in the Bulletin of the Jourdain Society 10:20-26 copied into the local literature, but perhaps that is a job for the Dubai group.


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