Photos from the UAE, June 2013

Discussion in 'Field Herping and Reptile Studies' started by moloch05, Jun 17, 2013.

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  1. moloch05

    moloch05 Well-Known Member

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    I spent four nights in the UAE including two nights at Al Ain followed by the two nights in Oman (already posted) and then two nights at Fujairah. Here is a map that shows the areas where I searched for reptiles:

    A: Al Ain area
    B: Fujairah area
    C: near Al Malaiha
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    Typical habitat to the north of Al Ain:
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    I arrived in Dubai at 4am, I hired a car and headed off immediately to Al Ain, about 2.5 hours southeast of Dubai. After stopping a few times, I reached dunes northwest of Al Ain at about 7:30am. It was hot already but not overly oppressive. I stopped and walked the dunes to see if any reptiles were active. I soon found these incredible Eastern Sand Skinks (Scincus mitranus). With the sun to my back, these skinks were conspicuous since their bodies glistened silver or gold in the early morning sun. These skinks are well named. They cruise along the surface of the sand with sometimes only the top of their heads and backs exposed. When frightened, the make a big "splash" and vanish instantly beneath the surface of the sand. The sand was extremely fine in texture and felt almost like powder.
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    Sandfish habitat:
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    Here is where one of the skinks made its dive:
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    Sandfish tracks:
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    When initially disturbed, they would usually partially submerge but keep their heads just above the surface:
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    I saw these skinks occasionally at night so they must change to the night shift while the days are so hot.


    Flowers on the dunes:
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    These White-spotted Fringe-toed Lizards (Acanthodactylus schmidti) also lived on the dunes. To me, they looked a little like a cross between an Uma and a Aspidoscelis in form.
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    ... habitat:
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    These Toad-headed Agamas were abundant on the dunes. I am not certain whether these were Spotted Toad-headed Agamas (Phrynocephalus maculatus) or Arabian Toad-headed Agama (Phrynocephalus arabicus). I think that I might have photos of both species that overlap in distribution.
    Spotted Toad-headed Agama?

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    Arabian Toad-headed Agama?
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    Toad-headed Agama habitat:
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    Night walks on the dunes were very interesting. I found large numbers of these beautiful Arabian Sand Geckos (Stenodactylus arabicus) with webbed feet.
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    If you look closely, you can see fringe on the webbed feet:
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    I also saw several of these Dune Sand Gecko (Stenodactylus doriae).
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    ... as found beneath a small shrub on the dunes. I suppose that this posture had something to do with thermoregulation. The sand was still hot so perhaps the gecko adopted this position to keep its body high off the sand.
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    Arabian Sand Boa (Eryx jayakari). This was one of the most exciting finds of the trip. It was on the surface around 9pm. When found it was slowly crawling along but after I flashed my light on it, it continously tried to dive beneath the surface. The lower jaw was reset for its sand burrowing life. I suppose that it must partially bury itself but leave its eyes above the surface. The seem so odd on top of the flat head. It was a gentle little snake and never attempted to bite.
    ... as discovered:
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    Tenebrionids:
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    Gerbil, maybe Cheesman's Gerbil. I saw these a few times in the dunes:
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    I stayed at the Mercure Hotel which is located at the summit of a mountain called Jebel Hafeet a little south of Al Ain
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    Mercure on top of Jebel Hafeet near Al Ain. I "roughed it" here for two nights. The hotel had a huge atrium that included several open sided tents with the low Arab furniture. At night, groups of Arabs would sit there and sip their sweet teas or coffees while chatting. Arabic music played softly in the background. It was really an exotic feeling walking through to the elevator.
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    The lawns of the the Mercure were green and attacted a few birds including this pair of Chukars:
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    Sinai Agama (Pseudotrapelus sinaitus), habitat and animal.
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    Egyptian Vultures were faily common on Jebel Hafeet:
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    Juvenile Hume's Wheatear in the gardens. I saw this species more often on the bare rocks of the mountain.
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    Mosque in a small town northwest of Al Ain.
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    ... more tomorrow night
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2013
  2. Bushman

    Bushman Very Well-Known Member

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    Great photography of amazing creatures and wonderful landscapes! 8)
    Thanks very much for sharing this with us here. It's a real treat. :D
     
  3. Wiganov

    Wiganov Active Member

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    Another cracking thread. Thanks a ton for this!
     
  4. buckziggy

    buckziggy Not so new Member

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    Like the geckos
     
  5. moloch05

    moloch05 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks very much, guys.

    Here are a few more shots.

    Arabian Dune Gecko (Stenodactylus arabicus): Aren't the feed amazing? Perfectly formed for life on the dunes.
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    Hoopoe Lark, my first.
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    Salmon Arab:
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    Blue Argus:
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    Caper Gull:
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    Hume's Wheatear, a juvenile:
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    Arabian Babbler:
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    Red-wattle Lapwing on a lawn of the Green Mabuzzarah:
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    Hoopoe:
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    habitat near Al Malaiha. I saw a sandfish on the road as well as a DOR Arabian Horned Viper (Cerastes gasperettii). I would love to see a live one.
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    My ride home was in one of these A380s. They are amazing planes. The airport at Dubai was recently upgraded and they can now accommodate 24 of these simultaneously. These can collectively carry about 14,000 passengers. The Dubai airport is ultra modern and so busy!
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  6. izzys1

    izzys1 Not so new Member

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    Amazing!
     
  7. Bushman

    Bushman Very Well-Known Member

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    Yes indeed, the feet of the Arabian Dune Gecko are truly amazing.
    I've never seen gecko feet anything like that before.
    The desert pics are almost surreal.
     
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