Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Morpeth, Northumberland
As a continuation of this thread, I was back in UAE again a few weeks back with work, and planned my time and travel rather more carefully to see if I could get to some better birding locations. To be honest, I had the same issues as last time, so still had limited opportunities, but I still managed two lifers!
Most of the time was again spent in Abu Dhabi, but instead of staying downtown, I stayed at a hotel looking out over the Eastern Mangroves, so immediately had easier access to wildlife. Although the mangrove area is not that big (and sadly, getting smaller), I still took the chance to hire a kayak a couple of times to head into the swamps and waterways. And being directly across from a wild area meant that the hotel itself and the promenade outside had some interesting birds.
White-eared bulbul and common myna were common and noisy all around the hotel grounds, with Hoopoe also calling regularly, although not seen quite so frequently. My first morning was good for waders along the rocky shoreline and muddy beaches opposite, with a few Whimbrel, Common Redshank, Turnstone and Ringed Plover. I also added my first lifer of the trip with food views of a Terek Sandpiper. Views from higher up on my hotel balcony(!) also revealed regular passing Reef Heron and a few gulls (Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed[?]) and terns (Caspian Tern).
My first (early morning) kayak out into the mangroves was relatively short (only an hour, so couldn't get too far in), but I still managed to catch a good number of waders - lots more Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Greenshank and Grey Plover, as well as Black-winged Stilt and my second lifer, Striated Heron.
Towards the end of my visit, I made a second kayaking visit to the Mangroves, taking a longer trip from mid-afternoon until sunset. Fewer waders around at that time of day, but a couple of nice raptors spotted - firstly a large eagle (Booted eagle?) high over the swamps and off over the hotels, and then a much closer Marsh Harrier flushed by a passing jet-skier >:-(
A Black-necked grebe and a small group of Egyptian Goose on the water were also found down the narrower channels, along with Sanderling and yet more Whimbrel. A very confiding Great Grey Shrike let me get quite close, but the absolute highlight was paddling around a small clearing in the trees while surrounded by a couple of dozen warbling Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, swooping to catch insects then perching on overhanging branches. I also failed to identify a couple of small birds seen at a beach where you could pull up your kayak, one looking somewhat like a small, slim Sedge Warbler.
The end of my trip involved a drive down to Dubai - a day trip. After my meetings had finished, I headed to a recommended, nearby park (Safa Park), and spent an hour walking around a mixture of lawns, woodland and gardens. Among the Common Myna there were a good few Pied Myna, and there were also plenty of Ring-necked parakeets and Indian Roller. The wooded areas held a few Grey Francolin and Purple Sunbirds, while a few small groups of Indian Silverbill and Graceful Prinia were found in the well-watered gardens.
As the sun set, I headed back north to Abu Dhabi for my flight home, stopping en route at a beach near the Jumeirah Palace hotel, and although there were few seabirds, I did find a Crested Lark on the beach!
Overall, 40 species seen, which was a good few more than my visit the previous year, and the hotel choice opposite the mangroves clearly helped!
World life list: 536 (Terek Sandpiper, Abu Dhabi, UAE; September 2019)
UK life list: 228 (Red-backed Shrike, Newbiggin, UK; December 2018)
Morpeth Garden list: 70 (Willow Tit, October 2019)
2019 year list: 235 (Snow Bunting, Bamburgh; October)