Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Around Al Ain, UAE

Andrew Bailey had organised a second busy day on Saturday. Most of it was in the Al Ain area so that meant leaving the house around 5 am. 

The first stop was Zakher lake and it was still relatively cool. Indeed it turned out to be the only cool birding of the day.

clamorous reed warbler

Immediately on parking the car and getting out, we saw and heard a group of clamorous reed warbler in the nearest set of reeds.

There were two other clusters of them eslewhere as we walked round.

Black-winged stilt were no surprise. 

black-winged stilt

The most numerous wader was probably little stint though.

little stint

In the water we observed little grebe, common moorhen and a single coot.

little grebe

On a small island were little tern.

little tern

On the same island were also Kentish plover and ringed plover.

ringed plover (with Kentish plover at back)

We didn't have time to walk all the way round the lake but we could see two flamingo and a great white egret at the far side.

Egyptian goose

Much closer but directly into the sun was a solitary Egyptian goose. Interestingly although it is regular in Al Ain and near-by places such as at Zakher lake, it is classified as a vagrant with just three records in Oman. The border is not far and I suspect that any water bodies near Al Buraimi on the Oman side must surely host them from time to time.

After Zakher lake, we headed next to Wadi Tarabat. 

Hume's wheatear

Although we had glimpsed a couple of Hume's wheatear on wires on our return journey the day before, this was the first place to observe them properly. We saw three.

desert lark

Two pale brown species were seen in the wadi. These were desert lark and trumpeter finch. The latter was shy as usual and I failed to obtain a picture.

Upcher's warbler 1

The low acacia bushes in wadis like this as excellent habitat for passage Upcher's warbler.

Upcher's warbler 2

We observed two. One gave very good views.

Upcher's warbler 3

Their tail action, where they pump it and part rotate it, is quite distinctive. Indeed it is unmistakable. This is one bird where behaviour is better than plumage and structure for quick identification.

striolated bunting

A fairly common bird in the wadi, it would seem, is striolated bunting.

Egyptian vulture

Flying high above was my first Egyptian vulture of the trip.


The next major stop after Wadi Tarabat was Green Mubazzarah. This is a resort which is heavily watered to create lawns and other vegetated areas within a natural wadi. It must be a magnet for many birds. In our case we saw five rufous tailed rock thrush and several hoopoe. Other birds included white-eared bulbul and another Upcher's warbler. Another Egyptian vulture was seen overhead.

Time spent outside the car was limited as it was getting very hot just like the day before.

To partly escape the heat we climbed Jebel Hafeet and up to the Mercure hotel gardens. This hotel is almost at the peak. 

We calculated it was 6 degrees C cooler there but it was still very warm.

European bee-eater

A flock of European bee-eater passed over but one bird stopped to rest. It looked exhausted.

Hume's wheatear

Hume's wheatear were present in the garden but especially on the lamp posts. Apparently hooded wheatear can be seen there too at times but we were unlucky.

Rufous-tailed rock thrush

Yet another rufous tailed rock thrush was observed and a common redstart was also seen on the edge of the hotel complex. More Egyptian vulture were also present on the mountain.

It was now heading towards the hottest time of the day and so the best time to travel back in an air conditioned car.

We travelled back towards Abu Dhabi for a meal and then some late birding. By this stage I had over 80 species on my new formed UAE list.

I will write about the birding in Abu Dhabi next and show my complete weekend list.

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