For anyone interested, I just got back from 3 days in Abu Dhabi with work, and thought I would post a little about my experiences.
I had very little time for birding for a few reasons:
- I was working(!)
- The sun sets very quickly, so even "after work", there was only about an hour to get out and about before it was dark
- It was too damn hot (41-43C daytime, even around 40C at 6pm)
- I didn't really have transport
Nevertheless, I managed to get out a couple of early mornings and late afternoons around my hotel (the Hilton on "the Corniche" down near the royal palace). The hotel had its own private beach, with some small garden areas, and there were a few shady parks nearby. Around the hotel, Collared Dove, Laughing Dove, White-eared Bulbul, Common Myna and House Sparrow were abundant, and with a bit of extra effort, it was quite easy to find Purple Sunbird (once the kind people of Birdforum had helped with identifying the eclipse plumage!). On occasions, I also found one or two Red-wattled Lapwing and Hoopoe on well-watered roundabouts, and noticed small groups of House Crow moving around the area. On one afternoon, there were also a large group of hirundines that looked a lot like Crag Martin to me, but I'm not at all familiar with the other possibilities.
The Beach Club also offered some interesting birds, even if there were not a lot of them! Early morning, as the first visitor, was the best time to go. Along the water line, I found Common and Green Sandpiper, along with a single Sanderling and the occasional Great White Egret. On the first morning, there were also a number of White-cheeked Tern circling over the bay. In the evening, there was less to see, but I noticed a short-staying Whimbrel at a quiet end of the beach on one occasion, and also a Grey Heron heading (presumably) to roost each evening. A short walk from the Beach, in the grounds of another hotel (right by the palace), there were always small family groups of Grey Francolin to be found.
Finally, my last afternoon, I managed to finish early, and headed out to Umm al Emerat park (near Mashrif Palace, not at Mashrif Palace as I had understood from the UAE birding website, which was helpfully confirmed to me by armed palace guards...). Although this park is well-developed and was busy with families, I still picked up three lifers! In the more shady gardens, Graceful Prinia were easy to find, and there were also some small groups of Indian Silverbill near to the "Shady" Palm House. But the highlight was being able to watch a large flock (25-30) Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters swooping about over the park for 15 minutes. It was also another good place to get good views of Purple Sunbird, and the Laughing Doves and Mynah were very confiding throughout the park, and along with the White-eared variety, there were a few Red-vented Bulbul.