An Egyptian Nightjar sighted Al Qudra Lakes in Dubai by Reza Khan and two other wildlife workers. Image Credit: Courtesy: Dr Reza Khan

Dubai: The Egyptian Nightjar, a common species of bird that is seldom seen in the UAE, has been seen growing in number.

This week, longtime Dubai zoo official Reza Khan and two other wildlife workers visited the Al Qudra Lakes, a man-made oasis in Dubai.

There, they saw 19 Nightjars by one of the lakes. “I have never seen this in 35 years in the UAE,” Khan, who works as the Principal Wildlife Specialist at Dubai Safari.

“This is the highest number of Egyptian Nightjars ever recorded in this country. They have been seen here before, but they are rare. It’s an uncommon bird to pass through this part of the world.”

Egyptian Nightjars, which are partly nocturnal, count small insects as food. They are normally 25cm in length, with wingspans of 55cm.

Because of their ability to pant at a fast rate — which lowers their body temperature — the birds can stay in open, sun-drenched desert for long periods.

Surprise finds

In recent times, the Al Qudra Lakes, which are supplied with treated sewage water from a municipality plant, has become the perfect habitat for migratory birds.

Nearly 180 species are thought to nest in the popular picnic destination, according to Khan.

The expert is no stranger to surprising finds with plants and wildlife.

Together with a small network of wildlife enthusiasts, who often post about their findings on UAEbirding.com, he spends much of his time tracking down rare species.

In May, he observed the hatching of a rare butterfly subspecies, Coeliades Anchises Jucunda — better known as the ‘One-pip Policeman’.

In the UAE, the butterfly, which is native to the Yemeni island of Socotra, has been found only in a single valley in Al Ain.