The temperate climate Qatar is experiencing right now beckons people to engage in leisurely activities. One of which is bird watching in a number of scenic places here such as the Abu Nakhla Pond, Al Khor Gardens, Al Dakhira, Shahaniya, Al Shamal and Al Zubara among others.
“Winter is the best season for bird watching,” said Tajuddin, who together with a group of nature lovers taking photography as a hobby, has been visiting around Qatar capturing various landscapes beautifully.
“Our group is called Doha Koottam (Doha group). We have been taking trips around Qatar like in farms to take photos of nature. It’s a nice hobby,” said Mohammad Haris Naina, another member of the group.
The group has evolved from being photography enthusiasts to bird watchers, with around 100 members and still growing.
Prof Gordon Sunders (right), Dileep Kumar (centre) and Tajuddin (left) at Al Dakhira in northern Qatar.
“Many of us are members of Qatar Bird Club,” said Tajuddin. Fifty percent of Doha Koottam members are also part of Qatar Bird Club. Truly, bird watching has become a popular pastime for many residents.
Interestingly, residents have popularised bird watching as a hobby despite some limitations like inadequate vegetation due to the country’s arid terrain. “Birds can be seen in many places in Qatar like in Umm Bab and Arab Qatari Farm, some of which are even rare birds,” Tajuddin explained.
“The best place to watch birds in Qatar is Abu Nakhla Pond. It has a variety of birds, from the smaller to rare ones. This is because the nature of the pond makes it a preferred habitat for birds,” said Gordon Saunders, another bird watcher who has been taking the hobby for over three years now.
Asked on what made him decide to make bird watching a pastime, Saunders said it is that different kind of fulfilment that can be derived being with nature. He said he has always enjoyed bird watching even in his home country Canada.
Bird watchers may not take painstaking effort going to the outskirts of the city. Some prominent places here are frequented by birds, such as the Corniche.
“Many residents come to Doha Corniche even at noon hoping to spot migratory birds,” observed Naina. These bird lovers have never been disappointed with the plethora of birds visiting the 7.5km seafront stretch.
He also said that he has observed a lot of residents watching migratory birds on the Corniche. “I always see a British couple and someone from the UAE who even brings food for the birds,” he said.
“Rare birds such as reef heron, ruff, seagulls and grey heron can be seen on the Corniche,” said Naina.
Dr El Sadiq Awad Bashir, a renowned ornithologist and Director of Qatar Bird Project told The Peninsula bird sightings at this time of the year is no extraordinary phenomenon.
“It’s not unusual to see migratory birds nowadays since this is the season when birds from North Europe heading for Africa pass through the Gulf,” Bashir said.
He said many bird species can be seen here at this time of the year since Qatar is one of the flyway routes of migratory birds. Qatar has been on the forefront of bird protection with the establishment of the Qatar Bird Project. It has also shown active involvement in international organisations focusing on bird preservation like BirdLife International (BLI).
Last year, Qatar donated $1m to the Hima Fund (HF), an environmental body for the conservation of birds and their habitats in the Gulf region, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East. Environmental groups like BLI have lauded Qatar’s role in bird preservation.
Bashir said Birdlife International praised Qatar’s role in the protection of birds and the country’s contribution to the implementation of the BirdLife International (BLI) programme
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