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BIRDING IN THE EMIRATES

24th - 28th October 1999

INTRODUCTION

The Emirates is a fantastic birding location and I recommend it to anyone.

It started on the 24th October with a Ring Necked Parakeet at Dubai Airport and ended on the 28th with a Pied Mynah at Safa Park. In between it got a lot more interesting. 128 species were seen during the visit, spending an average of about 8 hours a day birding/travelling. The evenings were dedicated to my wife's passion - the dreaded shopping!

My top tip is when you're in the MASAFI area and your partner asks you if there are any shops around, don't answer "no but there are plenty of birds". This, as a found out is not the required reply.

Car hire cost £23 a day, petrol is cheap and eating out is very reasonable.

Special thanks to Colin Richardson the local British Birder and Emirates fountain of knowledge for his company on the second day. Without his help, information and genuine good will the trip would not have been so productive. The Shell Birdwatching Guide to the UAE by Colin and Simon Aspinall is a must for getting around the sites and at £10 it's well worth the money - Thank you once again Colin!

This report is arranged firstly in day order, with sites visited and then a systematic list of birds seen at which sites.

In some cases specific numbers of each bird seen are not given, due to the sheer amount of birds on view.

Anyway enough of my waffling and on with the report.

DAY 1 - 25th Oct

Khor Al Beidah/Dubai Creekside Park

Day 2 - 26th Oct

Emirates Golf Course/Pivot Fields/Wimpy Pools & Khor Dubai (in the company of Colin Richardson).

Day 3 - 27th Oct

Masafi/ Masafi - Dibba Road/Fujairah Beach/Khor Kalba

Day 4 - 28th Oct

Umm Al Qawain Breakwater & Fish farm/Khor Al Beidah/Dreamland Beach/Hamraniyah Fields/Safa Park.
 

Systematic Listing of birds seen at which locations:-

Little Grebe - Two were seen at the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th.

Socotra Cormorant - Twenty one birds were noted at Umm Al Qawain Breakwater on the 28th. Four over the sea and 17 standing on the sandbar.

Night Heron - Two were noted (1 juv) at the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th and five were noted in Safa Park (Dubai) all juvs on the 28th.

Little Green Heron (Striated Heron) - Not an easy bird which I thought was going to be a certainty. I had to wait until the last day to see two (1 juv) in Safa Park boat pond.

Indian Pond Heron - One was noted at Khor Kalba on the 27th with two being present at Umm Al Qawain fish pools on the 28th; perched on a fence.

Cattle Egret - Eight birds were perched at Pivot Fields on the 26th.

Western Reef Heron - Widespread and numerous in the right habitats. Birds were noted at Khor Al Beidah (dark/light phases) 25th & 28th, Dreamland beach 28th, Khor Dubai 26th, one at Pivot Fields (intermediate) 26th and one in Safa Park on the 28th.

Little Egret - One bird at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th and one at Khor Dubai on the 26th.

Great White Egret - One bird was seen at Khor Dubai on the 26th.

Grey Heron - Not difficult, noted in ones and twos at Khor Al Beidah 25th & 28th, Emirates Golf Course 26th and two at Safa Park on the 28th.

Purple Heron - One bird was present at Pivot Fields on the 26th.

White Stork - One bird was seen at Pivot Fields on the 26th.

Spoonbill - Eighteen birds were noted at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th.

Greater Flamingo - Two were seen flying over the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th, with several hundred being present at Khor Dubai on the same day.

Ruddy Shelduck - One female bird was seen at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th.

Teal - One was at Wimpy Pools on the 26th and another was present on Safa Park boat pond on the 26th.

Mallard - One was at the Emirates Golf Course pools on the 26th and two were present on Safa Park boat pond on the 28th.

Pintail - Five were noted at the Emirates Golf Course pools on the 26th.

Garganey - One was seen at the Emirates Golf Course pool on the 26th, with several being present at Wimpy Pools on the same day.

Shoveler - Two were at the Emirates Golf Course pool on the 26th and one was at Wimpy Pools on the same day.

Pochard - Two were seen in Safa Park on the 28th.

Marsh Harrier - One was noted at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th, with four birds being present at Khor Dubai on the 26th.

Pallid Harrier - One bird was seen on the road to Umm Al Qawain, quartering over a field on the 25th.

Montagu's Harrier - One bird was noted quartering over the Pivot Fields on 26th.

Spotted Eagle - Two birds were noted (1 juv) at Khor Dubai on the 26th.

Osprey - Two birds were noted at Khor Dubai on the 26th.

Kestrel - Widespread and numerous, seen in all areas in ones and twos throughout the period of the report.

Grey Francolin - Numerous birds were seen in Creekside Park (Dubai) on the 25th and on the Emirates golf course on the 26th.

Moorhen - Two were seen at The Emirates Golf Course pools on the 26th and one was seen Khor Kalba on the 27th.

Oystercatcher - Numerous birds were seen at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th & 28th with many more seen at Khor Dubai on the 26th.

Black-Winged Stilt - Three at the Emirates Golf Course pools on the 26th, with circa 100 being seen at Wimpy Pools on the same day.

Crab Plover - In excess of 150 were seen at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th & 28th. One was also present at Dreamland Beach on the 28th and another was at Khor Kalba swamp on the 27th.

Cream Coloured Courser - Three brilliant birds were noted at the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th, running around on the driving range - as usual.

Collared Pratincole - One bird was noted at Pivot Fields on the 26th.

Ringed Plover - Good numbers were seen at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th & 28th, Khor Dubai on the 26th with smaller numbers being noted at Wimpy Pools, Emirates Golf Course pools and Dreamland Beach.

Kentish Plover - Good numbers were seen at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th & 28th Khor Dubai on the 26th, Dreamland beach on the 28th and ones and twos were noted at other wetland locations.

Lesser Sand Plover - Large numbers were seen at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th & 28th, Khor Dubai on the 26th and smaller numbers on Dreamland Beach on the 28th. Seen alongside Greater Sand Plover - so good comparisons could be had.

Greater Sand Plover - Seen in the same locations as Lesser Sand Plover but in smaller numbers. Birds showing characters of columbinus and crassirostris were present.

Pacific Golden Plover - One bird was noted at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th & 28th.

Grey Plover - Numerous birds were seen at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th & 28th Khor Dubai on the 26th and Dreamland Beach on the 28th. Smaller numbers were four at the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th, four at Khor Kalba on the 27th and five on Umm Al Qawain beach on the 28th.

Red-Wattled Lapwing - Twenty three were noted at the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th, several at Wimpy pools on the same day and one at Umm Al Qawain fish farm on the 28th.

White-Tailed Plover - Two birds were noted at the Emirates Golf Course Pools and two were also noted at Wimpy Pools on the 26th.

Sanderling - Birds were noted at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th, one at Khor Dubai on the 26th, Seven on Fujairah Beach on the 27th and Five on Dreamland Beach on the 28th.

Little Stint - Good numbers were noted at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th & 28th, Khor Dubai on the 26th. Smaller numbers were seen at Wimpy Pools and the Emirates Golf Course pools on the 26th and Dreamland beach on the 28th.

Temminck's Stint - Seen in small numbers. Two at the Emirates Golf Course pool on the 26th and three at Wimpy Pools on the same day.

Curlew Sandpiper - Numerous birds were present at Khor Dubai on the 26th. Three were noted at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th, with several being present at The Emirates Golf Course and Wimpy Pools on the 26th.

Dunlin - Numerous at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th and 28th, Khor Dubai on the 26th, Dreamland Beach on the 28th with several at the Emirates Golf Course and Wimpy Pools on the 26th.

Broad-billed Sandpiper - Hundreds were present in amongst a flock of 5-6000 waders at Khor Dubai on the 26th. Several were scoped and positively identified.

Ruff - Good numbers were noted at Wimpy Pools on the 26th, with Three also being present at the Emirates Golf Course on the same day.

Common Snipe - Twenty six were present at the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th whilst three were seen at Wimpy Pools on the same day.

Pintail Snipe - Only one bird was seen feeding on the grass at the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th.

Black-tailed Godwit - Two birds were noted at Wimpy Pools on the 26th.

Bar-tailed Godwit - Numerous birds were seen at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th & 28th, with good numbers on Dreamland beach also on the 28th.

Whimbrel - Three were seen at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th, one at the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th, Two at Khor Kalba on the 27th and two at Dreamland Beach on the 28th.

Curlew - Numerous at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th and 28th, Dreamland Beach on the 28th, a few at Khor Kalba on the 27th and two in Safa Park on the 28th

Redshank - Large numbers at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th and 28th and at Khor Dubai on the 26th. Two at the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th (including one Eastern race species); this caused me some confusion, as it was doing a dam good impression of a Spotted Redshank, fortunately Colin Richardson came to the rescue.

Marsh Sandpiper - One was seen at Wimpy Pools on the 26th.

Greenshank - Good numbers at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th and 28th, and one at the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th. Also seen at Dreamland beach on the 28th.

Wood Sandpiper - One bird was seen at Wimpy Pools on the 26th.

Terek Sandpiper - Thirteen were noted at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th.

Common Sandpiper - Between five and ten at the Emirates golf course, Creekside Park (Dubai) and Safa Park (Dubai) on the 25th,26th and 28th.

Turnstone - Tens were seen at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th and four were seen at Khor Dubai on the 26th.

Sooty Gull - One First Winter bird was seen on the beach at Fujairah on the 27th.

Slender-billed Gull - Two were at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th, one at the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th, and numerous at Khor Dubai on the same day.

Siberian Gull - At least 14 were seen at Fujairah Beach on the 27th.

Pontic Gull - Good numbers were seen at Creekside Park on the 25th, Fujairah beach on the 27th and Dreamland Beach on the 28th. I leave the cachinnans and barabensis identification to the "Gull Grillers!" amongst us.

Gull-billed Tern - Eleven birds were at Khor Al Biedah on the 25th, with 5 also being seen at Khor Dubai on the 26th.

Caspian Tern - One was seen at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th, Three (including 2 juvs) at Khor Dubai on the 26th and one at Dreamland Beach on the 28th.

Swift Tern (Crested Tern/Greater Crested Tern) - One bird was seen at Umm Al Qawain Breakwater on the 28th.

Lesser Crested Tern - Seven were noted on Fujairah Beach on the 27th with many five being seen at Umm Al Qawain on the 28th.

Sandwich Tern - Good numbers were seen on Fujairah Beach on the 27th with another six being seen at Khor Kalba fishing Marina on the same day.

Common Tern - Several birds were noted showing characters of the Eastern race (longipennis) at Fujairah beach 27th and Umm Al Qawain Breakwater.

White-cheeked Tern - Good numbers were noted at Fujairah Beach on the 27th and Umm Al Qawain Breakwater on the 28th.

Saunder's Little Tern - Two were noted at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th, five on the beach at Fujairah on the 27th and one at Umm Al Qawain on the 28th.

Whiskered Tern One bird was seen in Safa Park, over the boating lake on the 28th.

White-Winged Black Tern - Two birds were seen feeding over Pivot Fields on the 26th.

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse - Fourteen birds were seen on the 26th, showing well at the Emirates Golf Course, taking a drink in the morning at the pools behind the course perimeter fence.

Collared Dove - One was noted at the Emirates Gold Course on the 26th – seen all over the place.

Palm Dove - Seen absolutely everywhere in varying numbers throughout the period.

Rose-ringed Parakeet - Twenty five were seen flying over Dubai Airport on the evening of the 24th and five were seen in Creekside Park (Dubai) on the 25th.

Alexandrine Parakeet - Six birds were seen in Safa Park (the regular area) on the 28th.

Blossom Headed Parakeet - Two birds were seen flying over the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th. An introduced bird, not yet on the list - (A bit stringy this one)

Pallid Swift - Nine seen over Dubai on the 25th, two at the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th and fourteen over Safa Park on the 28th.

White-collared Kingfisher - One bird was seen in the regular place at Khor Kalba on the 27th.

Common Kingfisher - Seen in ones at Creekside Park 25th, Emirates Golf Course 26th and Khor Kalba on the 27th.

Little Green Bee-eater - Widespread and fairly numerous at Creekside Park, Emirates Golf Course, Umm Al Qawain fish pond and Hamraniyah fields

Blue Cheeked Bee-eater - Three were seen over the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th, with 40 - 50 being seen at Pivot Fields on the same day.

European Roller - One bird was seen perched in Pivot Fields on the 26th.

Indian Roller - Seen in all of the parks and everywhere else. Peak numbers were of 7 at Hamraniyah fields on the 28th and 8 in Safa Park on the 28th.

Hoopoe - Widespread and numerous, with at least twenty being present in Safa Park on the 28th.

Short-toed Lark - Six were noted at Pivot Fields on the 26th.

Crested Lark - Widespread and numerous, seen in good numbers everywhere.

Sand Martin - Three birds were noted over Pivot Fields on the 26th.

Pale Crag Martin (African Rock Martin) - Four birds were seen flying along the Wadis between Masafi and Dibba on the 27th.

Swallow - Noted in small numbers in the Dubai area throughout the visit.

Richard's Pipit - One bird was seen on the 25th in the Creekside Park (Dubai)

Tree Pipit - Three in Creekside Park on the 25th and two at Safa Park on the 28th.

Red-Throated Pipit - Three birds were noted in Pivot Fields on the 26th.

Yellow Wagtail - One juv/female at Pivot fields on the 26th.

White Wagtail - Seen in small numbers at Creekside Park, Safa Park and the Emirates Golf Course.

White-cheeked Bulbul - Only seen in Creekside Park in good numbers on the 25th.

Yellow-vented Bulbul - Four were noted in the Masafi Wadi on the 27th.

Red-vented Bulbul - Seen in all the city parks in good numbers.

Isabelline Wheatear - Three birds were noted at the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th.

Desert Wheatear - Two were noted (one male) at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th and one at the Emirates Golf Course pool on the 26th - also a male.

Red-tailed Wheatear - Two birds were seen, one in the Masafi Wadi on the 27th and one flying over the Masafi - Dibba Road on the same day.

Hume's Wheatear - Two birds were seen, perched on telegraph wires alongside the road between Masafi and Dibba.

Graceful Warbler - Widespread and numerous - seen almost everywhere.

Clamorous Reed Warbler - One bird was seen at the Emirates Golf Course reed bed on the 26th and another was heard.

Desert Warbler - Ones and twos noted at Khor Al Beidah on the 25th and 28th.

Desert Lesser Whitethroat - 3 were seen in the Masafi Wadi on the 27th.

Plain Leaf Warbler - One bird was seen in the Masafi Wadi on the 27th.

Spotted Flycatcher - Two were at the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th and one was in Safa Park on the 28th.

Arabian Babbler - Ten birds were seen in the Masafi Wadi on the 27th.

Purple Sunbird - Two were seen at the Emirates Golf Course on the 26th and two were noted in the Masafi Wadi on the 27th.

Isabelline Shrike (Phoenicuroides) - Ones and twos seen at the following locations:- Creekside park 25th, Emirates Golf course 26th, Wimpy pools (including one brilliant male) 26th, Pivot Fields 26th and two at Safa Park on the 28th.

Southern Grey Shrike (Aucheri) - Widespread and numerous in all the locations visited except for Masafi Wadi.

House Crow - An easy bird to see - good numbers were seen in Creekside Park, Safa Park and The Emirates Golf Course throughout the period of stay.

Starling - Seven birds were seen in Creekside Park (Dubai) on the 25th. A relative rarity for the Emirates.

Pied Mynah - Seven birds were seen at the regular place in Safa Park (Dubai) on the 28th.

Common Mynah - Widespread and numerous seen everywhere near human habitation throughout the period of stay. Even seen on the grass in between the main roads in Dubai City Centre.

Bank Mynah - Numerous birds were seen at Hamraniyah Fields, two were scoped, sat on a wall on the 28th.

Crested (Jungle) Mynah - One was seen at Safa Park (Dubai) on the 28th. This is an introduced bird, but hasn't been seen for a while.

House Sparrow - Widespread and numerous.

Spanish Sparrow - Surprisingly difficult - several were seen at Hamraniyah Agricultural Fields on the 28th.

Indian Silverbill - Ones and twos were seen in Creekside Park, Safa Park and The Emitates Golf Course throughout the period. One was also seen in Masafi Wadi on the 27th.

Ortolan Bunting - One female was seen at Pivot Fields on the 26th.

Corn Bunting - Two were seen at Pivot Fields on the 26th.

Summary

An absolutely amazing four days - as displayed by the list above. More species were on offer, but I ran out of time. For me the one that got away (dipped again) was the Great Knot. I visited Khor Al Beidah twice and Dreamland Beach once - the two best sites to see this bird, but to no avail. Philosophically - they're there for next time and there will definitely be a next time.

Mark Easterbrook