At any time during migration periods (April-May and July - November) probably in excess of 250.000 waders are present on intertidal areas of the country's Gulf coast. Taking into account the likely turnover of shorebirds on this Eurasian/West Asian-Arab Gulf-African flyway, the mudflats of the southern Gulf probably supports several million individuals over the course of a year.
Individual sites are regionally important for wader species, namely Abu al Abyadh for its Dromas ardeola colony and migratory populations of Charadrius alexandrinus, C.mongolus, and Pluvialis squatarola, Khor Dubai for its high densities of C.alexandrinus, C. mongolus, C. leschenaultii and Limicola falcinellus, and Khor al Beidah for its large wintering population of Dromas ardeola and parties of up to 90 wintering Calidris tenuirostris. The summer population of Dromas ardeola is estimated at over 1.200 birds, shared between Abu al Abyadh and another colony on the island of Umm Amin, while the largest wintering population of over 500 birds is at Khor al Beidah.
The current UAE population of Phalacrocorax nigrogularis is around 200.000 birds, which is a substantial proportion of the total world population, estimated at 500.000 to million or more birds (Symens et al, 1993). Persecution is a problem as this is the only bird species which may be hunted under UAE law, due to a perceived threat to fish stocks. However, the species may in fact be a vital component in nutrient cycling within Gulf waters, actually maintaining fish stocks rather than reducing them. A number of this species' island breeding sites have been lost since 1980 and only three are now known to remain.
Several island hold important population of breeding seabirds and all are (or were) important in some way. Siniyah, Yasat and Ghaghah islands hold large Phalacrocorax nigrogularis populations, Qarnayn island alone has breeding Phaethon aethereus, Larus hemprichii and several turn species, and other islands in the south-west hold exceptional numbers of Sterna bengalensis, S. repressa and S. anaethetus, Pandion haliaetus has practically disappeared from its former mainland nesting sites, and breeding is now confined almost exclusively to islands, where its numbers appear healthy. Between 40 and 44 pairs were found on Yasta ghaghah islands alone in spring 1993.
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