Saturday, 30 June 2012

Wanderings in Wadi Tarabat

It is a lovely summers day here in Abu Dhabi! I am not joking! For some unknown reason, the temperatures are a balmy 37 degrees Celsius & not the unbearble 44+, which is the norm. Dawn is breaking & I am in Wadi Tarabat, which is a major wadi, flanking Jebel Hafeet, in Al Ain. I prepare for my hike, I plan to walk the entire wadi! I am searching for Trumpeter Finch and Short-toed Eagle, both needed for my year list. Wadi Tarabat is a good place for the former species and an outside chance for the latter.

Wadi Tarabat.

It is one of those glorious days which we get so rarely here, no humidity- yet! I feel good and start hiking. It is a pleasure to be out and about. A pair of Bonelli’s Eagle launch themselves off the cliff,  high above my head. They breed here, but I can't quite see the nesting site. 2 Upcher’s Warblers dance around in the bushes. Late migrants? Or potential breeders? This is exactly the type of habitat for them to breed, but so far, no confirmed breeding records for the UAE.
I continue my search, I kick a pair of Sand Partridge off a nearby ridge, they noisely whirr away. All the normal species are calling- Hume’s Wheatear, Desert Larks etc. But nothing like a Trumpeter. I continue up the valley slowly getting higher. I spot a water seepage coming out of the mountain high above. 300+ Rock Doves are bathing and drinking in the early morning light. I stake out the water, but to no avail.

Water, is in short supply
in these mountains.
I hear hooves on the sheer cliff, but I can’t see the culprits - Arabian Tahr! Livestock were removed fom this area over a decade ago. I scan feverishly, but without success.
Slowly I hike back to the car, the heat is starting to build now. My next stop is the back wadi in Green Mubazzarah. At the end of this wadi is a small area of water. This is my back up plan for the Trumpeter. I have seen them here in previous years. Despite my long wait, nothing arrives to drink.

Plan C involves driving to the top of the mountain. 24 Egyptian Vultures are circling around including some birds of the year. A adult Barbary Falcon briefly joins them on the ever rising thermal. That is my best count of vultures for a long time. Jebel Hafeet is their last remaing stronghold in the UAE. Elsewhere, it is a rare bird these days.

Egyptian Vulture
A variety of birds, of different ages were seen.
Several recently fledged birds were seen.
There is no evidence of breeding within the UAE.
All birds coming from the mountains of Oman.

I find a leaking water bowser, I yet again begin my wait. Nothing but a thirsty Desert Lark comes to drink!

Desert Lark.

A common inhabitant of these mountains.

I drive down the mountain to my last port of call – Zakher Pools. The pools are shrinking slightly, but they are still vast! 9 Grey and 2 Purple Herons are along the shoreline. A lone Spoonbill sleeps away, in the heat of the morning. A Black-crowned Night Heron utters a croak from within a tree. Soon I see why. A Purple Heron has landed in the same tree and is actively hunting House Sparrows which are nesting there! I have never seen this kind of behaviour before!
14 Eurasian Coot are out in the middle of the lake, some attending nests. A good breeding record for the country. Over 35 Little Grebes are trilling away the day, some with young.
I drive home, reflecting on the day. It had been surprisingly productive, some good species noted, but unfortunately not my target species. I pull up in the driveway just as Carol & the girls arrive. I am informed that I smell! A quick shower and then a dip in the pool with a beer, knocks me out and I sleep for an hour. I awake, it must be time for my second beer!

0 species added (293 species in total): 360kms travelled.

No comments:

Post a Comment