Once again we have Committee changes, an inevitable feature of such Groups in the Middle East with its transient expatriate populations. At the AGM in January Rob Western formally resigned the Chairmanship because of his posting offshore and Ian Hamer accepted the vacant position. Ian has been on the Committee for several years, and is an active Bees and Wasps Recorder. His interest in and experience of the Group stands him in good stead and 1985 should see the ENHG continuing to thrive under his leadership.
The 1985 Committee also includes some new faces. Sally Benge, Ursula Goddard, Mark Luce and Mike Crumbie all have much to offer in their different ways. We wish them good luck. Inevitably, there are departures too, Sandra Wooderson leaving the Emirates, and Harry Aston stepping down because of other commitments. The Group thanks them for past efforts and wishes them both the best for the future. The new Committee, including Chairman, numbers eleven, the largest we have had, and a healthy sign of interest in the Group and its objectives.
During this post winter there has been increased coverage of natural history and related topics in the UAE press. Brian Hassall's articles on places and regions of the country, ranging from a reputed Queen of Sheba's palace in the north to the Liwa in the south, make interesting reading in Friday's Khaleej Times. In the same paper Marycke Jongbloed of the Al Ain Group has been writing a series of articles based on the natural history of the Al Ain area.
A recent archaeological survey of Sharjah Emirate by a French team was also prominently reported. On the Gulf coast radiocarbon dating at newly-discovered sites suggested shells and bones of sea animals to be around 5,890 years old, older than the Umm an Nar and Hili cultures by a thousand years. Finds at Dibba were given only a slightly later date, and both coasts may relate to a hunter-fisher economy that lasted until the coming of the so-called local Bronze Age at the beginning of the third millenium.
Agricultural topics always receive attention in the press. About a million saplings were planted throughout the country on Tree Day on February 13th, while this year sees increased research into salt- tolerant plants suitable for the country's soils without being such a drain (sic) on water resources. An experiment with such plants is being set up at the srnall roundabout near Dubai International Airport.
And finally, birds. The White Stork invasion last autumn was widely covered by local newspapers and Al Ittihad more recently reported a gull found at Jumeirah in January with a leg ring showing that it had migrated from Russia. The bird recorder of the Group has written to Russia for more details. Last November a symposium was held under the auspices of Dubai Wildlife Research Centre and the International Council for Bird Preservation to discuss the present and future status of the bustard. It recommended the implementation of strict protection measures for especially vulnerable populations of bustards throughout their range.