A week in the United Arab Emirates

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krisbell
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A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by krisbell » July 26th, 2015, 7:07 am

Just a really quick write up of a week herping the deserts of UAE. I was actually in the region for 2 weeks, with the first spent doing the boring touristy stuff in Dubai, then the second week spent in the deserts, mostly in Sharjah. Much thanks and pretty much all credit for the critters below go to Johannes Els - a true gent with a superb knowledge of the local area.

First the boring tourist/architectural/city shots...

ImageCityscape Skyline by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageAt The Top by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageUltra-Urban by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageLevel43 by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageSheikh Zayed Grand Mosque by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImagePillars of Society by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageSheikh Zayed Mosque by Kris Bell, on Flickr

..now on to the good stuff. First animals out and about on the dunes during the day are usually the small lizards. These toad headed agamas were my favourite lizards of the trip, tiny little animals with so much attitude. They are fiercely territorial with one another and have a range of cool behaviours such as curling their black-tipped tails over in the circle as if to mimic a scorpion.

ImageArabian Toad Head Agama (Phrynocephalus arabicus) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageToad-headed agama by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageSchmidt’s fringe-toed lizard (Acanthodactylus schmidti) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

Without question, my favourite snake species of the trip...
ImageArabian sand/horned viper (Cerastes gasperettii) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageArabian camel (Camelus dromedarius) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageEastern Sandfish (Scincus mitranus) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

Once extinct in the wild, thanks to reintroductions and protected reserves, these ungulates are making a comeback...

ImageArabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageOryx Landscape by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageDesert monitor (Varanus griseus) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

Last out in the day were these Uromastyx, that absolutely loved the heat and were active throughout the intense heat of the middle of the day, long after every other animal had headed for the shade.

ImageLeptein's spiny-tailed lizard (Uromastyx aegyptia lepteini) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

Heading up into the streams that cut through the rocky cliffs (wadis) resulted in a different collection of reptiles...

ImageSinai agama (Pseudotrapelus sinaitus) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageSinai agama (Pseudotrapelus sinaitus) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageBlue-tailed Oman Lizard (Omanosaura cyanura) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageBagworm moth caterpillar by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageArabian Toad (Bufo arabicus) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

As soon as night fell in the wadis, these guys came crawling out of cracks and crevices in significant numbers...
ImageOman saw-scaled viper (Echis omanensis) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

...meanwhile back in the desert and scrub, the nocturnal animals looked something like the below.

ImageDesert hedgehog (Paraechinus aethiopicus) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageArabian Sand Gecko (Stenodactylus arabicus) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageVenomous land mine by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageDomino Beetle (Anthia duodecimguttata) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageArabian horned viper (Cerastes gasperettii) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageUrchin beetle (Prionotheca cornata) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageZarudny's Worm Lizard (Diplometopon zarudnyi) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageMiddle Eastern short-fingered gecko (Stenodactylus doriae) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageAwl-headed snake (Lytorhynchus diadema) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImagePersian Wonder Gecko (Teratoscincus keyserlingii) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageArabian sand boa (Eryx jayakari) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

And a few other odds and ends...

ImageCommon fan-footed gecko (Ptyodactylus hasselquistii) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageHoopoe (Upupa epops) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageEastern Sand Gecko (Stenodactylus leptocosymbotus) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageArabian Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes arabica) by Kris Bell, on Flickr

ImageArabian fox at dawn by Kris Bell, on Flickr

Jacob
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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by Jacob » July 26th, 2015, 7:15 am

Awesome! Do you have additional pictures of the wonder gecko?

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krisbell
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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by krisbell » July 26th, 2015, 7:19 am

Yes and no - I took more pics but they are now buried somewhere on my external hard-drive. I tend to only process one picture of each animal.

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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by bgorum » July 26th, 2015, 7:35 am

Beautiful!

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csalemi731
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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by csalemi731 » July 26th, 2015, 11:49 am

Beautiful photos. I love the Oryx, Uromastyx and fan footed gecko

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Fieldnotes
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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by Fieldnotes » July 26th, 2015, 12:49 pm

All those herps were found in only a weeks time, thats amazing along with pictures you took of them. :thumb:

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Steve Barten
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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by Steve Barten » July 26th, 2015, 1:21 pm

STUNNING photography. Any one of those images would look terrific framed on a wall.

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John Martin
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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by John Martin » July 26th, 2015, 3:03 pm

Yep, that is STUNNING photography alright! All of the animals are super cool, of course, but I thought your urban landscape shots were fantastic also. Great job!! :beer:

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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by Jim Wetherall » July 27th, 2015, 3:10 am

Thank you for posting Kris.
Great photography, particularly liking those "Venomous Land Mines"!
Strange that I've never considered UAE for a herping destination, your thread is starting to make me consider!

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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by Thor Hakonsen » July 27th, 2015, 6:43 am

Amazing as always Kris !

Some absolutely fantastic pics there

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Martti Niskanen
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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by Martti Niskanen » July 27th, 2015, 8:22 am

Great photography!

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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by justinm » July 27th, 2015, 9:30 am

Thank you for the post. This was fantastic, among the best in memory. I will certainly review this a time or two more.

Justin Michels

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Soopaman
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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by Soopaman » July 27th, 2015, 10:31 am

Amazing photos, Kris. What a fun time that was, I'm sure!

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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by snakemastermyke » July 27th, 2015, 10:44 am

Incredible post, amazing pics. Kudos!

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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by walk-about » July 27th, 2015, 11:04 am

My God that was beautiful! Thank you

Dave

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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by LouB747 » July 27th, 2015, 11:49 am

Great pictures.

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shanicy
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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by shanicy » July 27th, 2015, 12:31 pm

Incredible photography Kris!

Knormal
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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by Knormal » July 27th, 2015, 4:17 pm

Amazing animals, I didn't realize the UAE had so much diversity in such a small area. How easy is it for a Westerner to go wandering around the desert there? Is it best to be with a guide?

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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by DracoRJC » July 27th, 2015, 4:51 pm

I'm mad. This beats anything I could post here this year :P

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krisbell
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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by krisbell » July 28th, 2015, 1:01 am

Thanks for the comments all. I highly recommend the area for herping, particularly if you are UK or Europe-based as there are a huge number of very cheap flights going to the UAE on a daily basis. Hire cars are fairly cheap and there is a good mix of civilized culture/city stuff to do if you are with family or non-herpers, while the desert is an easy and accessible drive away. My top advice if you are thinking of going to the area is get in touch with Johannes Els. I'm not sure how I would have got on if I hadnt met up with him but it definitely would not have been as successful or as enjoyable. I can guarantee I would not have seen the Persian Wonder Gecko without him. Road cruising just flat out does not work, and while the desert can look fairly homogeneous, huge sections of it are badly beaten up from off-road driving and other human activities while other isolated pockets are extremely productive, with little visible or obvious difference to the layman between such areas. Google Earth is your friend, and scope out areas during the daytime - if you see lots of tracks in the sand its a good sign you are in a good place.

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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by Keeper » July 28th, 2015, 9:40 pm

AWESOME Photos! Thanks for sharing :)
Kai

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TravisK
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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by TravisK » July 29th, 2015, 2:55 pm

WOW, Epic photography on all fronts!

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Kelly Mc
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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by Kelly Mc » July 29th, 2015, 5:09 pm

Holy Wow

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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by John Martin » July 29th, 2015, 8:48 pm

Just looked through this post again (for about the sixth time) and realized that the Hoopoe has what has to be the coolest Latin name ever! :lol:

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The Real Snake Man
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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by The Real Snake Man » July 29th, 2015, 8:48 pm

Great stuff. The Eryx jayakari is really neat. My buddy John is stationed in Bahrain right now, and he's enjoying finding those freaky boas. Thanks for sharing.

-Gene

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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by ClosetHerper » August 12th, 2015, 4:29 pm

Wow, UAE would have never been on my bucket list, but your post makes it look very intriguing from a wildlife perspective. Your photos "ooze with quality" (a quote borrowed from your comments on my photographs from Australia a while back!). In particular, your use of flash setups shows great expertise (and something I know little about). I love the wonder gecko and the venomous landmine. The sandfish is one amazing lizard. Beautiful shot of the humble looking hedgehog! ... and that heat loving spiny-tailed lizard... all great. Thanks for sharing and opening my eyes to that part of the world!

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Re: A week in the United Arab Emirates

Post by chrish » August 12th, 2015, 8:30 pm

Spectacular photography, as usual, but maybe even better than your usual standard.

I have to say that Varanus griseus shot may be one of the most interesting shots I have seen on this forum. A lot of people might have deleted that because it wasn't a sharp photo of the whole animal. Certainly the best griseus shot I've seen and maybe on of the best lizard photos I've seen?

The blowing sand (?) covering the legs of that first Oryx is a show stopper as well!

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