Ok so granted this isn’t something that happens regularly or often, but rain really does have an impact when it happens. The first thing you notice after any amount of rain is the water puddles, or “ponds” as they are referred to here, that manifest in all sorts of places. Drainage is not a priority when roads are built, and as the water table is quite high here (surprisingly) the water doesn’t go anywhere. It just lies around waiting for unsuspecting drivers, and later, becomes a breeding ground for nasty little mosquitoes. Not only that, but a great deal of the buildings are not properly waterproofed, again because it is so seldom a problem.
You have probably heard a lot about Dubai night life – there is no shortage of that here with our umpteen shopping malls (with 24 hour weekend shopping during Eid), restaurants, hotels and night clubs (just have a browse through Time Out Dubai if you don’t believe me).
But what you may not know much about is the Dubai wildlife. I have spotted a few little critters in my travels over the last few weeks.
The first was an Arabian Red Fox (I think although it was night-time) that I spotted on my way to friends who live in The Villa. Now that might sound odd but the complex / development is called The Villa. So you have people saying stupid sounding things like “I live in a villa in the villa” and you scratch your head a bit if you don’t know. But anyway, this little guy was on the side of the entrance road, which is a bit off the beaten track as The Villa is out in the desert a bit. I hope he didn’t tarry too long at the side of the road and moved off into the desert after I passed him.
There are some encouraging signs that things are changing in the Middle East. And no I’m not referring to the Arab Spring movement or anything political. No the thing that is encouraging for me is that environmental issues are slowly becoming mainstream and being talked about in the newspapers; all kinds of people here are taking steps themselves to have less impact on the planet.
Stu and I do our small part; we recycle as much as we can, sadly there is no collection at the house and we have to take the recycling to a depot but that’s ok. The food scraps we turn into compost with our Bokashi, a great way to improve the poor desert sand in the garden. Other than that we turn off air-cons in rooms we aren’t using, turn off the water heaters, use LED globes in the lamps and turn lights and appliances off when not needed. We are also about to switch over to a chemical free cleaning product called Enjo, which cleans with water and fibres only. Apart from having a positive effect on our carbon footprint (which is the biggest in the world here in the UAE apparently) these changes have also had a positive effect on our utility bill each month. As the cost of water and electricity climbs all over the world this may be the thing that gets people motivated – the dollars and cents. Of course it’s great that we all do our bit at home, but in my opinion it’s not enough. The bigger consumers – the shopping malls, office blocks and other industries – must also start being mindful of their consumption. Small signs of this are starting to be seen and it’s very encouraging to me.
For the twitchers: two bird species never before documented in the Arabian Peninsula have been seen in the UAE in the past fortnight.
A Cory’s Shearwater was spotted by birdwatchers on May 12 – the first sighting in the Middle East. The bird was found while the group were taking part in a boat trip off Kalba, the east coast enclave of Sharjah near the Oman border.
Last week, a Franklin’s Gull turned up at Fujairah Port Beach. The gull appeared on May 17 and remained at the beach over the weekend, to the delight of dozens of bird enthusiasts who turned out to see it.
Sightings of species new to the region are extremely rare – the last one happened in December 2008 when a Red-flanked Bluetail was seen at Safa Park in Dubai.
The Franklin Gull normally breeds in the Northern US and Canada, whilst the Cory’s Shearwater in the Mediterranean.
More info on birding in the UAE can be found at Tommy Pedersen’s website on the subject.
Picture and quote from The National
In this month’s Aquarius magazine – hmm or last month’s maybe (its a great mag btw) I read about this Fish Finder initiative by EWS (Emirates Wildlife Society) and the WWF. Essentially what it means is that after a half-an-hours training you become an official ambassador for EWS and are able to identify unsustainable fish on sale in the supermarket, and of course educate others about the “choose wisely” program (which you may have noticed I support whole-heartedly). I quite fancy the idea of getting to be all militant and bossy in Carrefour (haha). Anyway after volunteering for this I ended up as a volunteer in general for EWS – not a problem – and was invited to help at a talk this past saturday at the Sharjah Aquarium.