First UAE sighting of one of the world’s rarest birds in Abu Dhabi 

A rare bird called a Steppe Whimbrel was seen at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Course. (WAM)
Short Url
Updated 20 September 2020

First UAE sighting of one of the world’s rarest birds in Abu Dhabi 

  • Known as a Steppe Whimbrel, the bird is estimated to have a global population of only around 100
  • It is believed to have travelled in time for the autumn bird migration

DUBAI: One of the rarest birds in the world has been spotted in Abu Dhabi by two members of the Emirates Bird Records Committee (EBRC), according to state news agency WAM. 
Known as a Steppe Whimbrel, the bird - estimated to have a global population of only around 100 - was seen by Oscar Campbell and Simon Lloyd at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Course, WAM reported on Saturday.
Believed to have travelled in time for the autumn bird migration, the Steppe Whimbrel is an extremely rare sub-species of the widespread Whimbrel, which regularly passes through the Emirates in spring and autumn.
The Steppe Whimbrel seen in Abu Dhabi is believed to have been born this year, making it the first time a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel has been spotted anywhere in the world, according to WAM.
“On August 29, we were studying around 20 whimbrels on the Saadiyat Beach golf course. We were stunned when one flew off showing the distinctive white wings, clearly different from the other birds,” Campbell and Lloyd told WAM. 
“We immediately realized the potential significance of this so we concentrated on observing the bird and obtaining photographs, allowing us to check the key identification features,” they said.
Campbell and Lloyd then shared their photographs with world’s top expert on Steppe Whimbrels, Gary Allport, who confirmed their findings. 
“The discovery of a Steppe Whimbrel in Abu Dhabi is remarkable in itself, and confirms our suspicion that the migration route of the sub-species passes through the Arabian peninsula region,” Allport said. 
“What is even more remarkable is that this is the first time ever, anywhere in the world, that a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel has been seen in the field…It’s an amazing find,” he added. 
The Saadiyat Beach Golf Course management was delighted with the discovery. 
“When you look at the significance of sighting the Steppe Whimbrel in Abu Dhabi, its history and the subspecies actually being declared extinct in 1995, it is pretty amazing,” Clinton Southorn, Cluster Director of Agronomy for managers Troon Golf, told WAM.
“This is one of the reasons the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club has worked hard to achieve its Audubon certification and showcase the positive environmental impact the course can have on the environment,” he added.


Lucky baby anteater escapes birds, falls from tree into care of Australian zoo

Updated 21 October 2020

Lucky baby anteater escapes birds, falls from tree into care of Australian zoo

  • The echidna will remain at the Taronga Zoo Wildlife Hospital until it grows spines and can feed itself

SYDNEY: A lucky echidna puggle, or baby spiny anteater, that survived an attack by birds and fell from a tree is taking its first steps as zoo keepers in Australia hand-feed the young mammal.
Members of the public brought the young echidna to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney last month after it fell 4 meters from a tree onto their balcony, somehow escaping becoming supper for the winner of a clash between a raven and a magpie.
“He was lost from his mum and the story is that some people were just sitting on their balcony one nice afternoon and they heard this thud and they looked down and they saw this little guy on the balcony,” said Taronga Zoo Senior Keeper Sarah Male.
“And they’ve looked up into the tree and seen a raven and a magpie there.”
After recovering from scratches and peck marks, the puggle – grey, sharp-nosed and easily held in the palm of one hand – has put on weight and started to develop fur, Male said.
“While the puggle is improving every day, it is still very young and in the wild would still be dependent on mum, so will require ongoing care for the next few months,” she said in an emailed statement.
“I’ve hand-raised lots of animals throughout the years at Taronga but such a young echidna puggle is a new experience.”
The echidna will remain at the Taronga Zoo Wildlife Hospital until it grows spines and can feed itself. The zoo said it hasn’t made plans for the animal beyond that.
Echidnas and platypuses are the only two species belonging to the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals. Their young are known as puggles.