And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him, In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wonderous glory of the everlasting stars.

Banjo Paterson (1889)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dubai Birding

After Malaysia, it was time to begin the main part of our holidays by stopping over at Dubai in United Arab Emirates, with one day on the way to the UK and back, devoted entirely to UAE birding. The temperatures were a humid 45+ Celsius and it was Ramadan (no food or water during daylight hours), but it was a place to get some good desert birding done.

The view of Dubai from our hotel room.

Dubai with the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa dominating the skyline.

Sensible people are in the pool, but birders start exploring the gardens for birds, such as the family of Grey Francolin we got in the gardens. 

We organised a car with the hotel to take us birding the next day, expecting a small car with  a driver. This big luxury car turned up with a nicely dressed driver to take us birding at a few of Dubai's swamps. Nice! I could get use to this, birding in style!

First stop for the morning was one of Dubai's best birding spots, the Pivot Fields.

Large wet grassed areas  of the Pivot Fields that had large numbers of birds.

Good birding area. We got our targets which included White-tailed Lapwing, White-eared Bulbul, Southern Grey Shrike, Graceful Prinia and Purple Sunbird.

It was getting hot at the fields, so it was back in the luxury air-conditioned car and off to Al Warsan Lake, but due to massive development in the area we couldn't find a a way into the lake itself. Ras Al-Khor Wildlife Sanctuary was the next stop, another of Dubai's great birding locations with good hides.

The Dubai skyline from Ras Al-Khor. Burj Khalifa looks impressive, I must go to the top next time we are in Dubai.

The tide was out, but the birding was still good. Little Stint, Kentish Plover, Little Ringed Plover and Striated Heron.

Liz looking out of Flamingo hide. It's hot out there and only slightly cooler in the hide.

As the name of the hide suggests, yes there are Greater Flamingos out there.

The long hot hidden walkway to Flamingo hide.

In the cool of the afternoon, we went down to Dubai Creek and the creekside park with it's cable cars.

A beautiful park with some interesting buildings.

At Dubai Creek we got our target Socotra Cormorants and Sooty Gulls. Dubai Creek Park had the largest number of Hoopoe we have ever seen, 50+. It seemed like every tree had a pair!

On the return leg of our holidays we stopped in Dubai again, this time having booked a birding day with local birder/guide Tommy Pedersen. A great day with an excellent guide.

First early morning stop was at Green Mubazzarah, a watered area in the desert hills.

The bird highlights were Egyptian Vultures, Brown-necked Ravens, Turkestan Shrike, Desert Lark, Eastern Olivaceous and Upcher's Warbler.

One of the birds we very lucky to see in this arid rocky area were the elusive Sand Partridge.

Next stop, the mountain of Jebel Hafit (Haffet), a great place for Pale Crag Martins.

A good place to also see White-spectacled Bulbul, Blue Rock Thrush, Pied and Hume's Wheatear.

Time to head down the mountain to a parkland area (with Isabelline Wheatear), and then take the road to the coast to Khor Al-Beida. We missed the cool air of the mountain.

Not my picture, but our target species at the coast, a Crab Plover. We ended up seeing about 450 of these birds and agreed that this was probably our best bird of the holidays. A fantastic looking bird!


Stu said...

Crab Plover is near the top of my list too......

Saract said...

A very cool looker, that Crab Plover! And the desert scenery is awesome!