Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Friday afternoon in UAE

After leaving Wamm farm we headed to the coast at Dibba Port and then south to Fujairah Beach. In an incident at the beach we saw fishermen delivering fish to shore and up to 8 species of tern trying to take part of the catch. I am waiting on better identifications until I post about this. Meanwhile this post is about what happened after.

We moved on south down the coast to the Khor Kalba area. Unfortunately we drew a blank on both the collared kingfisher in the khor and yellow-throated sparrow directly inland from there.

It was not surprising we failed on the collared kingfisher because the protected area is out of bounds and viewing is from afar. You would have to very lucky for the kingfisher to be seen.

The lack of yellow-throated sparrow was a little bit more disappointing. Nevertheless the birding inland from the khor hled some fascination.

European bee-eater

One interesting feature was the number of bee-eaters seen. There were a couple of waves of European bee-eater. These were the first I had seen this spring since they aren't common in Dhofar, Oman and I have struggled to see any there.

five European bee-eater

There were also a lesser number of blue-cheeked bee-eater making there way through.

Blue-cheeked bee-eater

Both migrant species out numbered the resident little green bee-eater. According the maps in the main regional guide some may stay to breed in the area. 

little green bee-eater

Andrew Bailey and I looked very hard for the sparrow but house sparrow were the only type we could find.

house sparrow

In our search we came across two Upcher's warbler, rufous bush robin and spotted flycatcher. All are on passage.

spotted flycatcher

By midday it was scorchingly hot and we had to give up the search. We chose the early afternoon when it was hotest to travel back west in this case towards Sharjah first.

white-eared bulbul

We did make brief stops on the way at places the yellow-throated sparrow has been seen in the past or could potentially be present but again we had no success. The white-eared bulbul above was seen at one of these stops. When we got back in the car the outside temperature read as 43C.

By the time we reached Sharjah, temperatures had started to fall. We spent our time there in the gardens of the American University and near-by. Sadly the pallid scops owl which often roosts in one particular place was not around. This was the third miss of the day.

Nevertheless, I was not disheartened. It was my first birding vist to UAE and everything was new. 

I was amazed by how many exotic bird species from both Africa and India could be seen in the gardens.

red vented bulbul

Red-vented bulbul was one of the least exotic. I have seen it in both Riyadh and Muscat before even though it is an Asian native.

Common myna were everywhere.

pied myna

However pied myna (also known as Asian pied starling) was a surprise.

grey francolin

I finally caught up with grey francolin which I have yet to see in Oman because it is in the north and the large majority of my birding has been in Dhofar.

superb starling

Returning to the theme of exotic birds, almost the last bird of the day was superb starling. This East African native was seen near the gatehouse leaving university city.

This sighting just added to the impression of strangeness in these highly manicured and watered areas of which UAE has many.

The next day Andrew Bailey took me to some sites around Al Ain. I will blog about these next.


  1. nice trip report.. superb starling is indeed surprise..grey francolin are too common in north oman ,sohar area, in fact you can found them on any small patch with shrubs. wish you happy birding..

  2. Jignesh, I haven't visited the north of Oman since I first arrived. It should happen soon. I am sure grey francolin will be one of the first birds I will add to my list when I get there. Rob