Saturday, 28 January 2017

Winter in the UAE!

Arrived back in Abu Dhabi on the morning of 19th January. The weather was glorious & even better, the police had my wallet! Everything was there including my cash! Where else would that happen? Amazing!

Clare & Ahmed

Its me again!


One of the best views at sunset over 
the mangroves & city.

It was great to see Clare & Ahmed again & Clare & I went out for cocktails to Yas Links Golf Club which was a very pleasant way to spend late afternoon evening. The setting at that time of day is superb, looking towards the city over the mangroves. 

The view from the adults beach at The Club.

Anne & Angie

Guilty pleasure?
She tells me she doesn't
 normally do this!

On 21st January I spent the evening at The Club meeting up with Angie & Ryan + Angie's Mum Anne, who is over for a short visit. It was another excellent evening.

Training camels.

The next day I picked Anne up & we visited Al Wathba Camel Racetrack for a spot of birding & for Anne, looking at her first camels!

The whole area is dry - a far cry from the
good old days!

Pallid Swift

Tawny Pipit

White Wagtail on the grass at the grandstand.

Crested Lark


Desert Wheatear


Adult Steppe Grey Shrike


Eastern Desert Warbler

Best birds were:

 European Marsh Harrier; Long billed Pipit; 127 Water Pipit; 7 Short toed Lark; 17 Eurasian Skylark; 19 Desert & 8 Isabelline Wheatear; European Stonechat; 3 Siberian Stonechat; Bluethroat; 2 Daurian Shrike; Steppe Grey Shrike; Southern Grey Shrike; 9 Desert Warbler &  Menetries Warbler.

Al Wathba Reserve

Greater Flamingoes

A quick look at the lake from the main road (without a telescope) revealed hundreds of Greater Flamingo; 159 Pied Avocet & 164 Common Shelduck. Will have to pay another visit with a telescope.

Mushrif Palace Gardens


The front wood

Anne birding

European Sparrowhawk

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

Common Chiffchaff

Indian Silverbill

This is a common species these days.

On 24th I picked up Anne for a spot of birding around Mushrif Palace Gardens in Abu Dhabi. it was a little quiet.

 Best species:

European Marsh Harrier; Oriental Honey Buzzard; European Sparrowhawk; 2 Common Kestrel; 2 Gull billed Tern, Song Thrush, Eastern Black Redstart; 30 Common Chiffchaff; 2 Eastern Olivaceous Warbler; 8 Desert Lesser Whitethroat; Daurian Shrike; Water Pipit & 7 White Wagtail.

The Park Hyatt Hotel

Anne, amid grand surroundings!

Dick & myself on the rooftop terrace bar.
Yes, it was that cold!

That evening we both went to the Emirates natural History meeting in the Park Hyatt Hotel on Sadiyat Island. It was an interesting lecture on conservation in the Lebanon & then we met up with Dick for a drink on the outdoor terrace. A nice evening.

On the way!
Photo courtesy of  Maarten
Birding on one of the islands.
Photo courtesy of  Maarten.

Anne; Angie; Dick; Anne & Maarten.

Great Cormorant.

Grey Heron

 Extensive mangroves & mudflats are found
 along the channel.

Greater Flamingo

Around 1,000 birds were present.

Great Black-headed Gull

Ist winter bird.

Steppe Gull

Caspian Tern

European Oystercatcher

Red wattled Plover

On 28th Dick; Anne; Angie; Anne & myself jumped on to Maarten's boat for a morning trip down the  Mussaffah Channel. it was cool & a little wet as the sea was choppy in the strong wind. But we all had a good time & saw a good range of species.

Anne & Angie

Desert Hyacinth

Best were:

1,000+ Greater Flamingo; 46 Eurasian Spoonbill; 120 Grey Heron; 35 Western Reef Heron; 160 Bar-tailed Godwit; 85+ Saunder's Little Tern; 7 Lesser Crested Tern; 19 Caspian Tern; 12 Great Black-headed Gull; 75+ Steppe Gull & a Steppe Grey Shrike.

In the back wadi.

On 29th I rose early to drive to Al Ain. I needn't have bothered, as I drove straight into a large traffic jam, which caused me to loose dawn birding! I had forgotten about the traffic in the UAE! Birded Green Mubazzarah & the back wadi, but little doing. Indian Pond Heron being the most notable siting. The entire area is now severely degraded by human activity. A far cry from the good old days! In fact, it was a little depressing to see the area in its current state.

View from the top of Jebel Hafet

I then drove up the mountain & birded the Mecure Hotel Gardens. Little habitat now remaining & few birds noted. I then walked around the top car park & had stunning views of a female Hooded Wheatear. No vultures, or raptors of any kind!

Female Sand Partridge

Desert Lark

Eastern Black Redstart

Hume's Wheatear

Female Hooded Wheatear

Red tailed Wheatear

Male Purple Sunbird

House Sparrow
Best species:

2 Sand Partridge; Pale Crag Martin; Little Green Bee-eater; 5 Desert Lark; White Spectacled Bulbul; 4 Eastern Black Redstart; 5 Hume's Wheatear; Hooded Wheatear & 2 Red-tailed Wheatears.

The weather was beautiful, but the birding was quite poor. Surprising really, for this time of year.

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