I N A U T H E N T I C I N H A B I T A N T S
Spring, the season of new beginnings, is nature’s most eventful time of year. Vegetation grows, insects fly and chicks hatch; there are signs of life everywhere. But what does this look like on an artificial island?
The United Arab Emirates takes pride in their man-made structures. Pearl Jumeirah, one of their newest islands, is off the coast of Dubai. In a business-focused city, nature is rare to come across. One must travel for hours towards the desert or north along the coast to find natural flora and fauna. However, if you take a closer look, you will find a richness of wildlife in gardens planted by people.
Strict restrictions were put in place due to Covid-19, limiting my scope to the patio. At the time of my arrival, a moth and flycatcher were the only species that I could find. But as spring appeared, my feeling of limitation vanished. Many species of birds explored the area searching for a new home. Males were competing for a mate and females were searching for supplies to build a nest. Within 24 hours, Dubai’s quiet island transformed into a habitat full of bird species.
A Eurasian Collared Dove stands upon a post on one of Dubai’s many man-made islands, Pearl Jumeirah. Dubai’s man-made islands begin simply as sand but become hubs for tourism with artificial beaches, malls and hotels. Interestingly, even wildlife can be found in the most unnatural of places.
Perched on a non-native Plumeria alba branch is a pair of White-Eared Bulbul. There are no natural environments for wildlife on the island, but the people who design and live on Pearl Jumeirah plant trees, shrubs and gardens, attracting a diversity of birds, insects and small reptiles.
Mistaking his own reflection for another bird, this Gambaga Flycatcher is fending off his claimed territory. At the start of spring, male birds try to impress females by building a nest-like structure, which often needs defending from other males.
A female Eurasian Collared Dove allows the male to mate with her by lying down beside him. Despite the appearance of a nature-less island, there are clear signs of wildlife populations increasing.
Once a pair has mated, the female will collect any grass, twigs or straw she may need for the nest. She will build the nest in the same territory that the male originally claimed and defended, near the structure he built.
On alert for predators, a Red Wattled Lapwing parent stays near their chick. Although the chick can wander outside of the nest, the parents will keep a close eye on it and any dangers that could be nearby. At this moment, the photographer was the threat in site.
A Common Myna looks up from a residence’s hedge. Pearl Jumeirah offers a surprising amount of biodiversity given its inauthenticity. With no damage or destruction done to the habitat, this man-made island can become a permanent home for these animals.
A Red Vented Bulbul looks out from the trunk of a palm tree. In the United Arab Emirates, the palm tree is a symbol of establishment and prosperity and is common throughout the country. The wildlife on Pearl Jumeirah are living examples of the nation’s symbol.