After dropping my son off on a Friday morning for archery practice at the Sharjah Wanderers Golf club, I often spend the few hours before I have to pick him up again doing a spot of twitching and trying to get some decent bird pictures. I often see a variety of wildlife around the golf club including lizards and snakes; I once stopped the traffic to allow a snake to cross the road. Today I decided to try and get some photos of Red-wattled Lapwing chicks, as they are just starting to hatch. These birds nest everywhere and anywhere, just placing a few twigs on the ground, often next to heavy human activity (under the swing in the Sharjah Colleges Nursery school outside play area for example). They are also very common on the wide grass verges next to the road, so that is where I decided to look, slowly cruising down the road between the golf club and the Sheikh's Palace, when suddenly I saw a fox, on the far edge of the grass verge, next to the Damas trees.
Image courtesy of Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve http://www.ddcr.org/en/conservation/research/red-fox-survey/
At first I thought it was a Ruppell's Fox, but now I think it was an Arabian Red Fox. I had my camera with me, but I was almost opposite the entrance to the Sheikh's Palace and I've been warned before and told to move on when taking bird pictures there. So the fox and I just stared at each other for 30 seconds or so. I then realised that we were both there for the same reason Red-wattled Lapwing eggs and chicks. I hope it had more luck than me.
After doing a presentation on Birds of our Campus for the students doing Ecology as part of their general studies, Maytha Humaid approached me to show me her pictures. This is a beauty, taken in the desert in Umm Al Quwain. It is exceptionally well-lit to capture the owls face. Well done Maytha. I think it is a little owl, but I'm open to other suggestions.
This is a Common Myna, not a Dwarf Black Egyptian Vulture, but a Common Myna. I've noticed more of these recently around University City, and having done some research I've discovered that no one is really sure why it happens. Some say it happens in juveniles when they first moult, with the head feathers come later. However, it is also a common occurrence in adult birds, causes being attributed to lice, skin infection, fighting and pollution, but no one is sure. If you have come across the answer, we'd like to know.
Thank you for the kind feedback, the suggestions and constructive advice I have received.
The site has already sparked a lot of interest. Thanks to Basel Badran, for submitting his pictures taken here at Sharjah Higher Colleges (SHC). We have already received photographs and bird lists from Dubai Women's College (DWC), thank you Patrick Green and Fujairah Women's College (FWC), thank you David Edwards. I'm also very pleased that David Randal from the American University of Sharjah (AUS) is going to share his list of birds and photographs. I'm keen to get as many Education institutions involved as possible, including schools, so please help spread the word.
Continuing the hugely successful what's the bird series, can you guess the one below (picture courtesy of Sarah White).
I first talked about creating a website identifying birds on our campus about 18 months ago, and have now finally got round to doing it. I have always been interested in birds, luckily my working environment provides a great opportunity to view and photograph them. I was astounded at the variety of birds that are on our campus and thought it would be fun to document them, and with the help of others, birds on other campuses.
At least half of the photos on this site are from Nick Lake, an ornithological guru, as well as many other things, during my time in the UAE. Thank you for sharing, as I hope others will too.
We are going public with the site tomorrow, so I hope you enjoy it and feel the desire to be involved.
Just to get things started, I saw this little chap on Wednesday at the Sharjah Colleges, I had never seen one before; unfortunately I only had my iPhone with me. I know what it is, but do you?