Elusive bird spotted in Fujairah to help boost global conservation efforts

The European Nightjar was seen by an Emirati man who handed it over to environment officials

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A nocturnal bird on a flying visit to the UAE is set to play a part in bolstering conservation efforts and helping nature lovers to better understand migration patterns.

The European Nightjar was recently spotted by an Emirati man, who was on an evening outing near his farm in Fujairah.

The bird typically breeds across Europe and migrates to Africa during the winter, with sightings in the Middle East thought to be less common.

It typically measures about 26cm in length with a 55cm wingspan and has grey plumage streaked with black.

The man caught the feathered guest and handed it over to environment authorities.

“Its not easily caught, particularly because the bird sleeps during the day and is active during night,” said a spokesman for Fujairah Environment Authority.

Experts travelled to the farm the same day and took the bird for examination before freeing it.

“Its size, weight and measures including the length of its wings and tail and the number of its feathers were taken,” said the spokesman.

A tracking bracelet bearing the authority's name was placed on the bird's foot before it was allowed to spread its wings.

“If caught anywhere else in the world, its measurements will be taken again and we will be notified of them in order to follow the bird’s development and migration routes,” said the official.

“We are part of international efforts to collect and share data that would help protect the environment and all species.”

He said Fujairah has welcomed numerous creatures because it is on the migration route of many birds .

The emirate’s environment authority has documented 375 birds from 67 different species.

“Some of the rare birds built nests in the emirate’s Wadi Wurayah National Park which is recognised by BirdLife International, a global alliance of conservation organisations,” the official said.

Bird species new to the region to be documented by the authority include the Arabian spotted eagle owl in March, 2020 and the Omani owl in May of this year.

Earlier this month, The National reported on a rare UAE sighting of Radde's accentor – a small bird that favours alpine habits.

The brown bird with black patches over its eyes and crown, separated by white eyebrow stripes, had previously been recorded only once in the Emirates, back in 2012.

It can be found from Turkey through to parts of Syria and Iran and as far east as Turkmenistan, but does not normally visit the UAE.

It was seen in Sharjah.

Updated: December 30, 2021, 9:15 AM