Tuesday, 1 May 2012

May is here!

It is the 1st of May. I am working in Al Dibbiyah, which is nice as I can sneak away for a bit of birding! As I drive out of the city an Oriental Honey Buzzard glides over the road. Not a bad start!
This oilfield is on the coast, just west of Abu Dhabi. Before it became an oilfield, it used to be one of my camping/birding haunts, so I know the area very well. Surprisingly, not a lot has changed inside the protected area. It is still a great place for viewing Mountain Gazelle and Arabian Hare and of course, looking for birds on migration.
The area around the accomodation block is a little green oasis & that's where I started looking. Later, I moved on to the plantations. It was burning hot and not much shade. However, migrants were everywhere and I had a good couple of hours birding: 40+ Curlew Sandpipers were on the mudflats in their splendid chestnut summer plumage; 4 Ospreys just sat; 2 European Roller; 4 Eurasian Nightjar; Lesser Grey Shrike; 2 Masked Shrike;a very late Chiffchaff; Upcher's Warbler; Blackcap; 2 Barred Warblers; 3 Common Whitethroats; 2 Spotted Flycatcher; Whinchat; 3 Northern Wheatears; Common Nightingale; 2 Rufous bush Robin; 19 Common Redstart; Red throated Pipit; Grey headed Wagtail and 2 Ortolan Buntings. Quite a nice start to the day.
After work, I looked around the MPG's: Oriental Honey Buzzard still hanging around; 3 European Roller; 2 Red-backed Shrike; singles of both Lesser Grey and Masked Shrikes; Tree Pipit; 2 Willow Warbler; my first Marsh Warbler of the year! 2 Barred Warblers; 2 Common Whitethroat; 7 Spotted Flycatcher; 4 Common Nightingale and 3 Rufous Bush Robin.

Red backed Shrike

Quite a nice day out. I then retired to have a swim and enjoy a cold beer at home.

1 species added (285 species total): 230 kms travelled.

Wednesday saw me again at the MPG's. It was incredibly hot, around 39 degrees celcius. Activity was poor and birding hard work. However, slowly migrants were found:
2 Willow Warbler; 6 Eastern Olivaceous Warbler; Upcher's Warbler; 2 Marsh Warbler; Blackcap; Garden Warbler (in the same place as the other day, could be the same individual); 2 Barred Warbler; 2 Common Whitethroat; 4 Spotted Flycatcher; 5 Common Nightingale; 4 Common Redstart and a Whinchat on the helipad.

0 species added (285 species total): 80 kms travelled.

Thursday afternoon saw me working the MPG's again. There are not many places left to bird on AD Island these days. Very sad. Migrants were scarce, but a good variety, best being: European Roller1; Common Nightingale 5; Rufous Scrub Robin 2; Common Redstart 4; Spotted Flycatcher 7; Upcher's Warbler 3; Eastern Olivaceous Warbler 6; Barred Warbler 1; Blackcap 1; Garden Warbler (still present); Common Whitethroat 3.

0 species added (285 species total): 80 kms travelled.

Friday, I had a quick trip to Saadiyat Island Golf Course, but got thrown off, as I was wearing shorts!
1 European Roller 2; Rufous tailed rock Thrush 1; Common Redstart 1; Common Whitethroat 1.

0 species added (285 species total): 110 kms travelled.


Saturday saw me doing the rounds at the Fujairah National Dairy Farm, at Dibba. It was incredibly hot and no shade - a combination which meant I was on my own! Persistance as usual, paid off, but migrants were thin on the ground, the best being 2 Black winged Pratincoles which briefly dropped in, before once again flying northwards. A group of five pratincoles, sadly were too far away to identify to species level. A male Streaked Weaver was singing in the workers allotment patch. (A belated year tick!) Otherwise, it was just a sprinkling of 9 Lesser Kestrels; 15 European Rollers; 9 Turkestan Shrikes; 2 Red backed Shrikes; 12 Isabelline Wheatear; a Whinchat and a few warblers in an Eastern Olivaceous; 16 Marsh Warbler. A fine adult male Montague's Harrier quartered the fields and I managed to flush 2 Common Quail.

A fine adult male Montague's Harrier.

Khalifa arrived and started to play warbler tapes down the line of trees, near the cowsheds. An adigated Savi's Warbler called back and he obtained quite good views. As I joined him later, I heard it calling and saw movement in the dense vegetation, but not much else. 40 minutes later, I left!
A quick look at Fujairah Port Beach produced 4 Persian Shearwaters and 4 Eurasian Spoonbill flying close in, north. but nothing else. 2 Common Black headed Gulls were on the beach, with a scattering of terns. But it was very quiet.
 We all met up at 3pm at Kalba for our boat trip. It was dull! 175 Red necked Phalaropes and an Arctic Skua not only were the highlights but virtually the only birds seen. What a difference from last year at this time!

Red necked Phalaropes.
Most birds coming into summer plumage now.

We did however have dolphins. First a pod of at least 6 Indo-Pacific Bottlenosed  and then an exciting group of 60+ Common Spinner Dolphins, always a great one to see! Recent research suggests that there are now two, perhap three, Bottlenosed Dolphin species. This splitting is based on genetic studies & it appears that we only get the Indo-Pacific species here.

Indo-Pacific Bottlenosed Dolphin
A recent split!

Common Spinner Dolphin
Quick & hard to photograph!

A large pod, with many young ones.

Just having fun!
Arctic Skua



I drove home a little disappointed with the day.

2 species added (287 species total): 620 kms travelled.

I meet up with Robin for a bit of a trudge around the MPG's. It was a little quiet, but we scored with 2 European Nightjars; 3 Spotted Flycatchers; Upcher's & 6 Eastern Olivaceous Warblers; 2 Backcap and the Garden Warbler still present. This bird has been here quite a few days now. A lone Common Nightingale was in the back wood.


Robin, birding the green areas,
 at the side of a main road in AD.
Destruction of natural green areas on the island
 has left us with little choice!
European Nightjar

The nightjar was not of the nominte race. It is either sarudnyi or unwini. I am not sure which one though. Small size was certainly more like unwini.



0 species added (287 species total): 80 kms travelled.

It's Tuesday, 8th May. I am once more working the MPG's. There are not many choices at the moment, as Andrew is in the States & we can't get permissin for the Emirates Palace Hotel without him. The radio tells me it is 43 degrees celcius and when walking around outside, I wouldn't want to argue with them! It is hot and sultry, nothing stirs in the trees. Migrants are very scarce, the only ones I can find are: a European Nightjar (of the nominate race); a Tree Pipit; 3 Marsh Warblers and a Blackcap. And that is about it. My year list has hit a brick wall!

0 species added (287 species total): 80 kms travelled.






0 species added (287 species total): 80 kms travelled.

Andrew is back from his American jollies! He somehow managed 32 lifers on a work trip! Not bad boyo! He very kindly arranged access for me to the Emirates Palace Hotel on Wednesday 9th.
Migrants were few & far between, but birding here as much better than elsewhere on the island! A European Nightjar; 14 Spotted Flycatcher; 16 Marsh Warbler; singles of both Upcher's; Willow Warblers & Common Whitethroat; grey-headed wagtail & Ortolan Bunting. A pair of Golden backed Weavers showed quite well.

0 species added (287 species total): 80 kms travelled.

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