In any community where there is a fairly large but mobile expatriate population, Groups such as the ENHG will have good and bad years. 1984 was fairly good but perhaps not quite as successful as some previous years. We have steadily lost some of our expertise and though we have many new members at our meetings, we have been unable to replace some essential recorders.
1984 did see the arrival of Dolphin Watch and the Humpbacked Dolphin Project. Alex Collett acted on an idea to bring out Dr. Horace Dobbs, a world authority on these mammals, to study them off the UAE coast. He approached the ENHG for assistance, but not before he had arranged the air trip, accommodation and the Intercontinental Hqtel lecture hall. He found an enthusiastic number of observers and several days were spent finding and following these very intelligent sea mammals. Dolphin Watch is now a sub-section within the ENHG. It is encouraging that we now have records from helicopter pilots and residents on offshore platforms. Ian Hamer has produced a twenty page 'Dolphin Spotter's Handbook'. Lecture meetings held on the first and third Mondays of each month, except when public holidays intervened, numbered 21 plus the Intercontinental meeting. In addition, the Workroom has been open on most fourth Mondays for practical work and to allow members access to the library and specimen cases. Unfortunately, these evenings were not well attended. The library is now fairly comprehensive with the acquisition of a number of books from ADCO, in recognition of assistance given in the production of their 1982 annual report. We are very grateful to the Company for this generous gesture. Our thanks also go to ADMA-OPCO for permitting us to continue to use the workroom in the old Federal Building. This workroom has been visited by a number of groups of Arab lady teachers, students from Al Ain University and a few private individuals. The room can be opened up anytime on request to the Committee.
Membership in 1984 was somewhat lower than in previous years, totalling 150 (46 single and 52 family memberships of two or more people). The subscription has remained constant at DH 50 for family and DH 30 for single membership, despite rising costs. Better value of its kind would be hard to find anywhere. We have several members in Dubai and Sharjah, and a few overseas. Bulletins 22, 23 and 24 were issued in March, July and November. Topics covered a wide variety of natural history and archaeological subjects, and authors included Drs. Chris Furley, Serge Cleuziou, Hans G. Gebel and C. Marinucci, as well as several members. Mike Crumbie took up his pen and produced two very interesting articles on his personal bird recordings around Abu Dhabi.
The Newsletter, which is issued monthly, has become the forum through which members can publish writeups of their trips. These encourage others and help to build up useful information. As the Newsletter is always edited to a deadline, please ensure that contributions are handed in early in the month.
We held one large field trip of ten vehicles to the Liwa in March. A group of eighteen went along the Sueyhan Road in December. Dave Rowlands organised a trip to Ad-Door near Umm al Oawain in the same month but it was cancelled through lack of support. Many small groups of two or three cars have made some useful excursions. The Dolphin Watch has been active and small boatloads have made several trips out to sea from Abu Dhabi.
We have continued to liaise with the Al Ain Group, though no formal joint meetings or trips have been arranged. They regularly extend invitations to our members to join them and newsletters are exchanged on a regular basis.
Now, as Acting Chairman, I would like to thank a few people who have been particularly active in our affairs over th,e past year. First of all the speakers, who prepare and then deliver talks on Monday evenings. Sarah Wale, who is not a member, spoke on Iceland. Chris Furley (twice) and Nick Saines both travelled from Al Ain. All the others were members and we would be hard pressed to carry out our aim of encouraging the study of natural history in the UAE without them. A full list of 1984 talks appears in this issue. Next, the Recorders, who will shortly present their reports. This recording is the basis of our system without which all our information would be lost. Martin Willmot, Traces Recorder, left early in the year.
I would like to thank Sandra Wooderson, who has now left, for her work on the Committee, the library, and for looking after refreshments on Monday evenings; Jean Burn for keeping the minutes, typing newsletters, putting notices in shops and on the radio, and helping out with refreshments; Di Donohue, who looks after the membership lists on her computer, posts newsletters, distributes Bulletins, and corresponds with postal applicants for membership; Terry Donohue, Ian Hamer, Harry Aston and Dave Rowlands for their Committee work; Ursula Goddard for looking after the library; and last but not least, Rob Western, the outgoing Chairman, who as Bulletin Editor, Plant and Archaeological Recorder will be hard to replace. Fortunately, he will continue to edit the Bulletin from his outpost on Das.
Many other persons have contributed in many different ways, particularly you, the members. Without your regular attendance at our meetings, your encouragement and your interest in the Group, the effort would not be worthwhile. I hope 1985 will be a successful one for the new Committee and that you will continue to support them. We look forward to your cooperation and assistance.