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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

New bird discovered breeding in UAE

The Egyptian Nightjar had not been suspected of breeding in the Arabian Peninsula before 2010

Oscar Campbell a avid bird watcher and chairman of the Emirates Bird Records Committee published a paper about the discovery of the Egyptian Nightjar breeding in the UAE. Sammy Dallal / The National
Oscar Campbell a avid bird watcher and chairman of the Emirates Bird Records Committee published a paper about the discovery of the Egyptian Nightjar breeding in the UAE. Sammy Dallal / The National

A species of bird once thought to be a rare guest to the UAE in the winter has now been found to be a regular breeder, according to a scientific paper published in Sandgrouse.

The Egyptian Nightjar breeds from Morocco to north-eastern Egypt and to southern Kazakhstan, but had not been suspected of breeding in the Arabian Peninsula before 2010.

Summer field surveys conducted by UAE birdwatchers since 2013 have now shown that the species is found regularly in the Ajban area, north-east of Abu Dhabi between March and September.

Breeding was confirmed in March 2016 and April this year.

Young birds were first seen by Emirati bird photographer, Mohammed Al Mazrouei, the Under-Secretary of the Court of the Ruler’s Representative in the Al Dhafra (Western) Region in Abu Dhabi.

"I am delighted to have played a small part in this discovery," said Mr Al Mazrouei.

His work along with that of Oscar Campbell and Mark Smiles, two local birdwatchers, led to the publishing of their paper, ‘The discovery of a breeding population of Egyptian Nightjars Caprimulgus aegyptius’, which reports on the five years of fieldwork in the Ajban area.

Up to five pairs, located by hearing the song of male birds, are believed to have been present earlier this year.

The authors concluded that it was possible the species has been breeding undetected at the site for several years.

"This is an important new find," said Mr Campbell, who is also chairman of the Emirates Bird Records Committee.

"Research into our UAE birds is a key part of our conservation strategy, something in which all UAE residents, both citizens and expatriates can play their part.

The author said up to 40 birds may be present in the Ajban area over summer and may also be present further north, in the desert south of Dubai, for example.

“It provides evidence, once again, that there is much still be to learned about UAE wildlife," said Mr Campbell

Nearly 100 bird species excluding introduced species have been recorded breeding in the UAE as of 2010, according to a book by former ERBC chairman Simon Aspinall.

Several other species have since been added as a result of survey work.

Sandgrouse is the twice-yearly journal of the Ornithological Society of the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

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