20 August 2015

In memory of Ali Al-Qarni (1991-2015)

This is a short note on Ali Al-Qarni who died 18 August 2015. Ali was a very keen birdwatcher from the southwest of the Kingdom who found a lot of good birds and broadened the knowledge of bird distribution with his observations. Although I never met Ali he kindly allowed me to use some of his photographs on my website and his knowledge on birds was obvious. He will be missed greatly in the small birdwatching community in Saudi Arabia as well as further afield. Below is a write up by his friend Mansur Al Fahad.

Ali Al-Qarni (1991-2015) was from Sabt Al alaya, a town between Al Baha and Abha. He was born in Bisha, as this is where his father was working, but after a few years his family returned to their origin village on the edge of Sabt Al alaya . He finished his education in his home town and then completed his university education in Qassim. Last year he graduated from the university, and this year obtained a job as a teacher in the Najran area, but very unfortunately when he was on the way to his new job he met with an accident. Ali was a lover of photography from a young age as can be seen from the below items.
        A member of the Asir photography club.
        A member of the photographers group of the Balgarn area.
        A member of the  bird photographers group in the KSA.
        A member of the wildlife  photographers group in Saudi Arabia.
        A member of the Arabian Peninsula birders group.
        A member of Arab World Birds photography.
        He participated in four photographic exhibitions in the Asir Area.
        He covered many events, celebrations and festivals in the region.
        He competed in the contest, Saudi Arabia colors, and reached the semi-final.

Through my meeting with him, he told me a lot about his life with birds. He had only been birdwatching less than two years and was introduced to it by a Nightjar being brought to his attention. After this he went to watch and photograph birds with his favorites being birds of prey, Owls and Nightjars. In addition to his participation in several birds groups (see above) he made a major effort in less than two years, seeing more than 180 birds in the Asir and Jizan area. Ali also discover several new sites for rarely seen species such as Arabian Scops Owl, Arabian Spotted Owl, three species of Nightjars breeding in the SW, two Quail species at Jizan, Blanford's Lark, Olive Pigeon, Asir Magpie, Arabian Woodpecker, Yemen Serin , Verreaux's Eagle, Black-crowned Tchagra, Pied and Dideric Cuckoo and much more.

He was very welcoming and received many birders, both local and from the Arabian Gulf countries, as well as local photographers and helped them whilst they were in the region. Ali was going to start ringing and take a number of trips across Saudi Arabia looking and photographing birds. He was also a strong advocate for the environment and wildlife, and regularly voiced his concern on these issues to local officials. One success was his role in saving wild olive trees in his local area that the municipality intended to remove. For me, I met him almost two months ago and accompanied him on a five day trip. This trip was like a dream, as he was a smiling man, kind, generous and with extensive knowledge. I would say Ali was the most active and best local birder in the region and had a promising future. I could see myself in him when I was the same age. His departure from us is a huge loss. Ali had an account on Instagram under (A.ibrahim) his nickname and as well as being a lover of birds was also very interested in butterflies. The below photographs of Ali were taken by a friend of his and sent to Mansur who obtained permission for their use on my website.