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The Dalmatian Pelican which was spotted in a small dam lake near Kalba in Sharjah’s east coast on October 7. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A rare bird has been spotted for the fourth time in 50 years in the UAE, according to Dubai Safari Park’s principal wildlife specialist Dr Reza Khan.

“Dalmatian Pelican is a very large wetland bird. It has been sighted only three times between December 1970 and up to October 6 this year. The fourth bird was sighted by Sami Majeed and others on October 7 in a small dam lake near Kalba in Sharjah’s east coast,” Dr Khan told Gulf News.

Known as the largest member of the pelican family, and perhaps the world’s largest freshwater bird, this species breeds in eastern Europe and east-central Asia, in Montenegro, Albania, Armenia, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey.

Sami Majeed is a wildlife warden at Wadi Wurayah National Park in Fujairah. In the latest spotting of Dalmatian Pelican by him and others, an immature bird was sighted from October 7 to 9.

On hearing about the bird, Dr Khan said he had visited the site on October 11 and spent two hours observing the foraging behaviour of the Pelican. Foraging refers to the activities of birds in their quest for food.

“I had spent time watching the pelican from 2pm to 4pm. During this period, the bird was in my contact for 66 minutes. Then it vanished from the site for 54 minutes,” said Dr Khan.

“Of the 66 minutes I observed it, the pelican spent nearly 20 minutes in feeding by catching Tilapia fish from the lake. It spent nearly 10 minutes in swimming and changing perches for three times. In water it would open its huge bills and a very large baggy gullet and jab into the water, possibly, aiming at fishes. At least two out of five attempts it appeared to be successful. After getting a fish in the bills, it will raise these, shake the gullet so that the fish or fishes run down the throat to the crop of the pelican.

“When on the perches, the pelican tried to preen its feathers and take rest. Between 2pm and 2.36 pm, the pelican was inside the lake. Then suddenly it flew, crossed the nearby hill and headed for the coastal areas in Kalba. It reappeared at 3.30 pm and stayed till 4pm in the lake fishing and taking rest,” Dr Khan added.

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The Dalmatian Pelican is a rare vagrant is a bird that strays outside its expected breeding, wintering or migrating range. Image Credit: Supplied

Previous sightings

Dr Khan said has listed the four rare sightings of the bird whose scientific name is Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus Crispus, denoting its status as vagrant.

A rare vagrant is a bird that strays outside its expected breeding, wintering or migrating range.

The first time a Dalmatian Pelican was spotted in the UAE on December 16, 1970 by J Stewart-Smith at Bateen Village in Abu Dhabi.

The second sighting was on January 19, 1980. JNB Brown had recorded that an immature bird was spotted in the Zakum Offshore Oilfield in Abu Dhabi.

The next spotting was in March 2017. J Betleja recorded sighting the bird in Umm Al Quwain on March1, 2017 and it was found again in Dubai Ras Al Khor Wildlife Reserve’s mangrove hide three days later by V Sharma, A Sarkar.