Rare migratory bird's nest spotted in Dubai

DUBAI — The nest of a rare migratory bird in the UAE, White-tailed Lapwing, was spotted in Dubai for the first time indicating the bird's successful breeding in this part of the region, according to Reza Khan, head of Dubai Zoo.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Fri 23 Mar 2007, 10:07 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:09 AM

Khan said he spotted the nest recently in the Pivot Field (Rhodes grass field) off Al Warsan near the Sewage Treatment Plant of the Dubai Municipality.

Four eggs were laid in the ground nest. Though the species is occasionally spotted in Dubai, this is for the first time that the sign of its successful breeding emerged.

"White-tailed Lapwing or White-tailed Plover (Vanellus leucurus) is a wader in the lapwing family of birds. The nest I found was in a mat grass bed in an open farm area of over a hectare. It was virtually devoid of any nesting material except a few tiny twigs and dry grass blades. But there was a slight depression on the ground made through pressing down the original green grass. The clutch contained four eggs, which were heavily blotched and more or less merged with the grassy background," said Khan.

"This lapwing used to be a rare migratory bird to the UAE even during the 1990s. Now we have a breeding population in the Pivot Field and Al Warsan Lake in Dubai. The total population in these areas could be over 50. Some specimens from these areas might venture into the neighbouring wetlands including the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary and Nad Al Sheba. Some others would frequent marshland or harvested crop and grass fields bordering the wetlands," he said.

"Most birdwatchers visiting these areas are familiar with lapwing as it is easily approachable for watching or being photographed from as close as 15 metres," he added.

The bird breeds semi-colonially on inland marshes in Iraq, Iran and southern Russia. Iraqi and Iranian breeders are mainly resident, but Russian birds migrate south in winter to south Asia, the Middle East and North-east Africa. It is a very rare vagrant in western Europe.

Both male and female birds share incubation. "When I approached the nest, the incubating bird virtually remained flat over the nest and left it before I could be within 30 metres of it. They are normally very apprehensive of predators and would chase away other lapwings and intruders passing close to its nest," he pointed out.

This lapwing is brownish with very long yellow legs and feet, black claws, unmarked head and no eye-stripe. When on wings, its pure white tail and pied wings with brownish back become conspicuous. The bill is black and the eyes are dark. Adults have brownish heads, necks and throats with grey breasts and rest of the under parts white. They are usually seen alone or mingling with other species near water or in fields bordering water bodies.

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