Trip Report: United Arab Emirates, April 3-10, 1996

Joakim Hellkvist and Elisabeth Djerf, Forsmark, Sweden;

For practical details concerning the country, I refer to our first trip report from 7-14/1 1996.

Don't travel to the UAE without:

We also used:

We recommend this new book:

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us:

3/4 Evening in Khor Dubai

We saw a lot of waders, gulls and herons but nothing exceptional. Great Cormorant, Western Reef Heron, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Great White Egret, Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Terek Sandpiper, Gull-billed Tern, Collared Dove, Palm Dove, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Crested Lark, Common Mynah.

(From here on I'm only mentioning the more, from our point of view, interesting species.)

4/4 Wadi Masafi - Dibba - Fujeirah - Khor Kalba - (Fujeirah)

This is a good day-trip, start with Wadi Masafi early in the morning when the temperature is decent and the birds are very active. Then take the way northwards from Masafi to Dibba and, after Dibba, follow the east coast southwards. Stop on "nice" places, especially near Khor Fakkan. Continue following the east coast-road through Fujeirah and pass Kalba. A few kilometres to the south of Kalba, Khor Kalba is situated. Don't forget to calculate the "low-tide-time" when visiting Khor Kalba, at that time the White-collared Kingfishers are supposed to be quite easy to locate (they are often perched in the mangrove-tops looking for food in the "mud" below). On our last journey here, in January, we didn't see them even though we visited Khor Kalba twice, both times at "low-tide-time".

Wadi Masaif:

Rock Dove, Desert Lark, Long-billed Pipit (2 ad. + 2 juv.), Yellow-vented Bulbul, Rock Thrush (1 male), Scrub Warbler (5, a family?), Upcher's Warbler (1 male singing, characteristically moving his tail), Ménétries's Warbler (3), Pale Rock Sparrow (4), Yellow-throated Sparrow (2), Ortolan Bunting (3).

Masafi - Dibba - Fujeirah - Khor Kalba:

Hume's Wheatear (1, on the road from Masafi to Dibba), Socotra Cormorant (2 ad., in some kind of nature reserve just to the south of Dibba, on an island not far ashore), Little Green (Striated) Heron (1, in a small "dirt-pond" just to the north of Khor Fakkan), sp. falco tinnunculus/naumanni (1), Sooty Gull (>300, Khor Fakkan - Khor Kalba), Lesser Crested Tern (>30, Khor Fakkan), Pallid Swift and apus sp. (>2000, on the same island mentioned above), Kingfisher (1), Indian Roller (50, very common on the east coast), Isabelline Wheatear (1, Khor Fakkan), Isabelline Shrike (>20, also very common + 1 male phoenicuroides), Great Grey Shrike (>20, several families of the aucheri-race).

Khor Kalba:

Little Grebe (2, Gravel Lake), Indian Pond Heron (1), Black-winged Stilt (10, Gravel Lake), Red-wattled Lapwing (1, Gravel Lake), Whimbrel (1), White-collared Kingfisher (1, at last, it only took five seconds to locate "him" this time!), Kingfisher (1), Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (~10, different places around Khor Kalba), Isabelline Wheatear (1), Pied Wheatear (1), Clamorous Reed Warbler (>2, they are singing very loud).


Black Stork (1, soaring on quite low over the city).

This was the fifth record of Black Stork in the UAE. We didn't know that when we made the observation. Like the other days we reported our observations to Mr Colin Richardson in the evening and almost forgot to mention the Black Stork. "By the way, we saw a Black Stork today in Fujeirah...". Colin then said that "he would kill for a Black Stork". Unfortunately we didn't know the status of Black Stork in UAE, otherwise we could have telephoned Colin from Fujeirah. In a country like the UAE, you have to consider the possibility of seeing an Abdim's Stork but this one looked "normal" to us even though we didn't watch it for a very long time. New experiences every day...

5/4 Jebel Ali Hotel grounds - Emirates Golf Course - Khor Dubai - (old) Ramtha Tip:

Jebel Ali Hotel grounds:

There was not much to observe here today, perhaps too "good" whether.

European Bee-eater (1)

Emirates Golf Course:

Only a quick walk along the fence in the north.

Little Egret (1), Greater Flamingo (20), Red-wattled Lapwing (5), Ruff (5), Pin-tailed Snipe (2, flushed), White-cheeked- and Red-vented Bulbuls, Isabelline Shrike (1), Indian Silverbill (5).

Khor Dubai:

We tried to sleep here (in the air-conditioned car) but were interrupted all the time by the eagles flying by.

Great White Egret (5), Spoonbill (10), Greater Flamingo (many), Spotted Eagle (3 imm.), Steppe Eagle (1, in strong moult), Osprey (1), Bar-tailed Godwit (50), Terek Sandpiper (5), Caspian Tern (20), Saunder's Little Tern (2).

(old) Ramtha Tip:

Ramtha Tip "has moved". The best place now is near the Ajman camel race track. This, of course, we didn't know so we visited the "old" place, described in Colin's book. This mistake wasn't so bad but we immediately understood that this was not the best place.

Black-necked Grebe (10), Great White Egret (5), Purple Heron (1), Spoonbill (5), Moorhen (1 ad. + 1 juv.), Black-winged Stilt (20), Red-wattled Lapwing (6), Ruff (5), Saunder's Little Tern (10), Whiskered Tern (10), Pied Mynah (1).

6/4 Wadi Bih - Al Jazeerah Khor - Umm Al Quwain - Mushrif National Park

Wadi Bih-area:

Wadi Bih is situated in the north of the UAE, to the NE of Ras al Khaimah. If you have a 4-WD it is possible to follow this wadi from the west coast to the east coast. We didn't have a 4-WD and we also had serious trouble in finding the right entrance to the wadi. There are some good landmarks, a military camp and a giant parabola-antenna. Here you should turn and follow the correct track (still don't know which) towards the mountains. We met some road-workers and they looked at our car (Honda Civic aut.) and made the sign with the thumb pointing downwards. We tried anyway but, of course, had to turn back again when the gravel on the track transformed into boulders... We found another track which led us to a small non-drivable entrance. We walked into this "mini-wadi" and found a lot of interesting birds.

Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse (1, flushed), Rock Dove (7, in a uniform flock), Little Owl (1), Eagle Owl (1, desertorum-race, small and light), Little Green Bee-eater (20), Yellow-vented Bulbul (2 pairs), Hume's Wheatear (2 pairs), Arabian Babbler (6, a "gang").

Al Jazeerah Khor:

On our way "home" we made a short stop here. There was litter all over the place and we had big problems finding a "clean" spot to sit down on. But still there were birds, some waders and raptors and a lot of passarines. A few hundred meters ashore, Socotra Cormorants were passing in small parties.

Socotra Cormorant (50), Short-toed Eagle (1), Isabelline Shrike (1).

Umm Al Quwain:

No roosting birds on the shore at all!

Mushrif National Park:

Fortunately we met Colin and an English bird watcher here. They had brought torches and had already spotted a Bruce's Scops Owl when we arrived at about 7.45 PM. Together we located one (probably two) more BSO, one of them we heard calling! The call is probably the easiest way to separate BSO from (common) Scops Owl. We had very good views!

Bruce's (Striated) Scops Owl (2-3, both seen and heard!).

7/4 Khor al Beidah

A lot of waders were standing on the opposite side of the Khor and were very difficult to see. At least two Great Knots should be around but we didn't see them, fortunately we were lucky to see them on our last trip here in January!

Kentish Plover (50), Greater Sandplover (10), Lesser Sandplover (3), Dunlin (200), Bar-tailed Godwit (30), Whimbrel (10), Curlew (5), Terek Sandpiper (100!), Turnstone (3), Saunder's Little Tern (8), Black-crowned Finch Lark (10), Hoopoe Lark (2 pairs, the males were displaying very nice), Lesser Short-toed Lark (1), Clamorous Reed Warbler (1, singing).

8/4 Al Ain Camel race track - Jebel Hafit - Oman (towards "Hanging Gardens")

Al Ain Camel race track:

This day-trip was almost an exact copy of our trip in January. This time we were more successful in finding the Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouses in the race track. We also had splendid views of two Pallid Harriers hunting over the track. We also most probably saw a Blyth's Pipit.

Pallid Harrier (2 ad., male + female), Kestrel (3), Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse (50), Short-toed Lark (3), Red-throated Pipit (many), Sand Martin (100), Swallow (3), Tawny Pipit (1).

Jebel Hafit:

Egyptian Vulture (8), Sand Partridge (1 male), Rock Dove (10, uniform flock), Pale Crag Martin (30), Northern Wheatear (2), Hooded Wheatear (2, male + female, about 3/4-way up), Hume's Wheatear (10), Rock Thrush (5, 3 males + 2 females), Brown-necked Raven (10).

Oman (towards "Hanging Gardens"):

We didn't find the right way to this site!

9/4 (new) Ramtha Tip - Jebel Ali Hotel Grounds - Zabeel water treatment plant (fish farm)

(new) Ramtha Tip:

Colin told us how to find the way to the "new" Ramtha Tip.

Cattle Egret (8), Little Egret, Great White Egret, Spoonbill (3), Greater Flamingo (75), Pintail (2 pairs), Teal (1 pair), Shovler (2 pairs), Black-winged Stilt (20), Red-wattled Lapwing (6), White-tailed Plover (4, displaying and warning, might breed?), Temminck's Stint (>1), Common Snipe (4), Black-tailed Godwit (2), sterna albifrons sp. Saunders'/Little (>50), Whiskered Tern (10), Bank Mynah (2), Indian Silverbill (2).

Jebel Ali Hotel Grounds:

White-throated Robin (1 male).

Zabeel Water treatment place:

Little Grebe (6, one with chicks), Night Heron (1), Little Egret, Great White Egret, Western Reef Heron, Garganey (3, 1 male + 2 female), strange looking "sparrowhawk" (1 male), Pied Mynah (6), Weaver sp. (1 pair!).

Close to the "fish farm":

Brahminy Mynah (2).

10/4 AM in Saffa Park - Al Jumeirah (beach)

Saffa Park:

Purple Heron (1), Pochard (4), Ring-necked Parakeet (100), Alexandrine Parakeet (1), European Roller (1), Hoopoe (10), White-cheeked- and Red-vented Bulbuls (20), Pied Mynah (4), Common Mynah (50).

Al Jumeirah (beach):

Gull-billed Tern (20), Lesser Crested Tern (2), Saunders' Little Tern (1).

Joakim Hellkvist and Elisabeth Djerf, Forsmark, Sweden

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This page served by Urs Geiser;; July 18, 1996