Bird watching trip report

Bird watching trip report


Coming to United Arab Emirates and I wanted to take the chance for a few days of bird watching. I was hoping for some desert habitat after having been to Djibouti. I searched the internet for information and I found UAEBIRDING.COM. They have a “GUIDING” section and I think thye were in progress to update their web page when I used the page.

Most of the Guides had left the country or had given up guideing. Checking in on the “GUIDING” in March 2019 and their is only 3 guides available. The page have been through a major facelift and the 3 guides listed there now is available.

I found my guide and we had 3 full days in United Arab Emirates


Arriving with boat and I only got 72 hours before I had to leave the country. So I bought a ticket to Oman where I did some bird watching before I returned to Dubai. Arriving with a flight and I got 90 days at the immigration.


Arriving by boat

  Thai Airways International TG518
Dubai Intl Airport        -   Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
05Dec2018 21:40           06Dec2018 06:50

Land transportation

We were traveling around UAE in my Guide´s 4WD. Transportaton between birding sites in Dubai was done by UBER. It was very convenient, but make sure you have batteries in you phone. Happened to me, I had booked my car and BOOM! My battery went flat. Luckily enough it was only me waiting for a car in the “wilderness”


UBER Click and download their app for your phone. Very convenient! Book the car from your room and when the car arrive it is just to go down to the waiting car. I have my card registered so no need to have any cash.


Radisson Blu Dubai Waterfront. Booked on Radisson Blu´s web page. Worked very well and no need to use etc.

Radisson Blu Dubai Waterfront


Canon 5D Mk. III
Canon EF 28-300/3,5-5,6 L IS USM
Canon EF 70-200/2,8L IS II USM
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens
Canon Speedlite 600EXII-RT flash
Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II
Panasonic HC-W585 video camera

Sound recorder
ZOOM H5 Handy Recorder

Weather / climate

I have been to Africa and the Middle East before so I knew what weather to expect. No need for any winter clothes, shorts and shirt would be enough during my time in United Arab Emirates.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Climate & Temperature
Pictures from

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Climate & Temperature - Click picture for full size
Pictures from

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Climate & Temperature
Pictures from

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Climate & Temperature - Click picture for full size
Pictures from


UAEBIRDING.COM Together with Fatbirder, the only thing you need for bird watching in United Arab Emirates. The website is dedicated to birders interested UAE birds and wildlife, aiming to provide as much up-to-date information as possible. It was started in October 2005 and is updated regularly.

The web page have got a huge face lift since I was there in November 2018. It is easy to find your way around the site. The man running the site is very friendly and helpfull. He is a pilot for the Emirates so he is often out of the country piloting an airplane. But had a lot of help and the Guide Jacky made my visit to U.A.E to a beautiful adventure.

You can download the UAE-sites.xlsx: an Excel file containing all UAE sites with coordinates and notes HERE Make sure to visit UAEBIRDING.COM to get the latest version as they are updating the list.

Fatbirder - Linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see their sister site: WAND

Fatbirder is a fantastic web page with information from, I think every country in the world. My first stop when I plan for my bird watching trips. There is information about locations and guides, well, pretty much everything you need to know. Sometimes this is the only place I need to visit to plan my trip.

ebird - Find birding hotspots with bird checklists from all over the world

Avibase - is an extensive database information system about all birds of the world, containing over 25 million records about 10,000 species and 22,000 subspecies of birds, including distribution information for 12,000 regions, taxonomy, synonyms in several languages

Cloudbirders - Read birding trip reports from all over the world

BirdingPal - find a birding Guide around the world


And the web page you cannot live without. I have been around the world looking for birds. I usually have a Guide, but sometimes it is not possible to find a Guide. So, well, I have lost count onhow many times I have had help to ID birds at BirdForum. Joining this forum have been very very good for my bird watching experience. is the place to learn about the worlds climates with more than 4000 locations documented. Each aspect of the climate is represented using colour enhanced tables and professional graphs so that data can easily be compared by switching between locations in different tabs in your browser.

Visit Dubai - Information for the visitor to Dubai

“Birds of the Middle East”

Birds of the Middle East

The Birds of the Middle East is the first comprehensive field guide dealing exclusively with the birds of this region. It covers all the species, including vagrants, found in the Arabian peninsula (including Socotra), Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Irag, Iran, Turkey, and Cyprus. Over 700 species are described in concise texts giving full details of the plumage and voice of all recognizable forms. Distributed maps appear opposite the plates and are annotated with details of each species status and preferred habitat.

Four artists have prepared a magnificent set of specially commissioned plates which show all the forms described in full color. The authors have extensive ornithological experience in the Middle East spanning over 30 years of research into the identification, biology, and conservation of the many wonderful species to be found there.

This authoritative book will not only be an indispensable guide to the visiting birder, but a vital tool for those engaged in work to conserve and study the avifauna of the region, which is especially important for both the indigenous species and those which pass through it on their migrations between the Palaearctic and Africa.

Key Features
* The first comprehensive field guide devoted solely to the Middle East
* Every species is illustrated in color in all distinctive plumages
* Authors are experts, each with 30 years field experience in the region
* Serves as an entirely authoritative reference

Places to visit

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary

(Arabic: رَأس الْـخـوْر‎), Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is a wetland reserve renowned for attracting migratory birds in large numbers. The wetlands have large numbers of birds, crustaceans, small mammals and fish.

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary represents an enclave of relative wilderness amidst swirling traffic and sprawling urban infrastructure. Located just as the name in Arabic suggests - at the Cape of the Creek, it is among the few urban protected areas of the world.

The Dubai Municipality has taken great efforts to protect and preserve the biodiversity of this delicate ecosystem. The wetland has been fenced off from the public and three birding hides have been built. The bird hides are a first step towards development of more elaborate visitor education facilities in the protected area. WWF UAE Project Office collaborated with Dubai Municipality's Environment Department, in setting up the facilities that were sponsored by the National Bank of Dubai.

Opportunities for experiencing a natural environment in this rapidly building-up emirate are so limited that the opening of Ras Al Khor to visitors is a boon to present and potential nature lovers.

Presently there are three birding hides located on the perimeter of the sanctuary open to the public. Entrance is free and operate from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Saturday to Thursday.

Ras Al Khor is also home to about 500 greater flamingoes (Phoenicopterus roseus), which has become something of a mascot for Dubai's Wild Life protection program.

From Wikipedia

There are 3 bird hides at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary

1) Mangrove Hide
Experience the mangrove ecosystems and all types of migratory birds from a closer view. You can easily spot, various migratory ducks, snipes, shanks, greater cormorants, eurasian spoonbills, and if you are lucky, even storks during the winter!
Makani No. 31623 86559

2) Flamingo hide
Enjoy the pink of thousands of flamingoes all year round!
Makani No. 29772 87328

3) Lagoon Hide
If you are an extreme bird watcher, this hide is for you! Opening towards the vast waters of the creek, the hide offers all kinds of birds, from waders to raptors and everything in between!
Makani No. 30487 87923

All the information you can ask for, visit Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuaryäs web page HERE

Al Warsan Lakes - Dubai

Al Warsan Lakes are two lakes connected to each other in the Dubai International City.

This used to be one of Dubais star birding sites situated in the desert, then called called Wimpey Pits. Since construction of International City finished in 2005 it has shrunk dramatically in size and lost 90% of the birds that used to frequent this area.

The Al Warsan Lakes was formerly called Wimpey Pits due to the Wimpey Construction Company that started the first digging out here in the empty desert. Massive amount of spillwater was dumped in the desert, creating a large body of water. It is now the site of a mega-construction site called Dubai International City and Dragon Mart, and the area is officially named Al Warsan.

- From UAEBIRDING.COM - Maps and information at UAEBIRDING.COM

Saih Al Salam / Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve - Dubai

• Al Qudra Lake
• Al Quadra Pivots
• Oasis Lakes

Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve

l Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve is the first unfenced nature conservation reserve in the United Arab Emirates. It is located in the desert area of Saih Al Salam in the emirate of Dubai and comprises some 10% of the total land area of the emirate, including the extensive man-made desert wetlands, the Al Qudra Lakes.

The Reserve spans over 40 hectares of desert shrub land and 10km of lakes and is home to 26 identified species of reptiles, nine of mammals and 39 species of plants. It provides a sanctuary for 19 animal species considered endangered, as well as flocks of between 300 to 500 flamingos and over 360 other bird species, of which 158 are migratory.

Rare species observed at Al Marmoom include the Egyptian Nightjar and the butterfly Coeliades Anchises Jucunda, which is native to the island of Socotra, off Yemen.

Its announcement, in January 2018, followed public concern regarding the fouling of the area by tourists as well as a number of deaths of wildlife in the lakes.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

See Dubai’s impressive skyline through your rear-view mirror as you take a quick 30-minute drive to Al Qudra Lakes, part of the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve. You’ll be amazed how easily you can arrive at a desert oasis from the busy city.

Across the series of lakes at Al Qudra, you can enjoy a picnic or a leisurely ride around Al Qudra Cycling Track. It’s a great way to see Dubai’s beautiful desert sunset with a waterfront view and spot some local wildlife.

This is one part of Dubai where wildlife is likely to be seen in its natural habitat, from desert foxes to the oryx, or one of 200 bird species that live around the lakes. Just a few of the species include swans, geese, ducks, flamingos and more. Some of these native birds are even on the endangered list, such as the Steppe Eagle and the Asian Houbara.

Of course, bird-watching or even a general tour through the desert is available around the lakes. But if you want upscale Arabian cuisine, you can also head to nearby Bab Al Shams – a five-star desert resort styled like an Arabian fort – for dinner with an amazing view of the sunset.

Note to visitors: there are no facilities on the Al Qudra site so come prepared.
- From

This is a large area of desert, tree plantations and man-made lakes only 40 minutes from Dubai's Mall of the Emirates; great for desert birds like Cream-coloured Courser, Chestnut-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Black-crowned Sparrow-lark, the scarce Greater Hoopoe-lark and a good possibility of Lappet-faced Vulture and other raptors.
- From UAEBIRDING.COM - Maps and information at UAEBIRDING.COM

Wadi Shawka, Ra's al-Khaimah

Ra's al-Khaimah

(Arabic: رَأْس ٱلْخَيْمَة‎; IPA: [raʔs alˈxajma]), to an extent identified with the historical area of Julfar is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The capital city and home of most residents is also called "Ras Al Khaimah", sometimes abbreviated to "RAK City".

Its name in English means "headland of the tent". The emirate borders Oman's exclave of Musandam, and occupies part of the same peninsula. It covers an area of 2,486 km2 and has 64 km of beach coastline.

Al Ain Area - Abu Dhabi

Al Ain

(Arabic: ٱلْـعَـيْـن‎, al-ʿayn, literally The Spring) is a city in the Eastern Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, on the United Arab Emirates' border with Oman, adjacent to the town of Al-Buraimi. It is the largest inland city in the Emirates, the fourth-largest overall (after Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah), and the second-largest in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The freeways connecting Al-Ain, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai form a geographic triangle in the country, each city being roughly 130 kilometres from the other two.

Al-Ain is known as the "Garden City of the Gulf" due to its greenery, particularly with regard to the city's oases,[3] parks, tree-lined avenues and decorative roundabouts, with there being strict height controls on new buildings, to no more than seven floors, and according to one author, an oasis around Al-Ain and Al-Hasa in Saudi Arabia are the most important in the Arabian Peninsula.

That said, the region of Al-Ain and Al-Buraimi, altogether Tawam or Al-Buraimi Oasis, is of cultural and historical importance. For example, the area witnessed events relevant to the history of Islam during the Rashidun, Umayyad and Abbasid eras, similar to Dibba and Ras Al-Khaimah.

It was where Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the United Arab Emirates, spent much of his life, at least since 1927, before becoming the Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in 1966.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Al Jimi Oasis - Al Ain Area - Abu Dhabi

Al Jimi oasis

Al Jimi oasis has been farmed for centuries and, in addition to thousands of date palms, the visitor will find large native trees such as the sidr (Zizyphus spinachristi) and ghaf (Prosopis cineraria) and plants cultivated for their medicinal properties.

The restoration of over a dozen buildings within the oasis provides an insight into the agricultural and administrative importance of this area from the early 18th century onwards.


Jebel Hafeet - Al Ain Area - Abu Dhabi

Jebel Hafeet

Jabal Hafeet (Arabic: جَـبَـل حَـفِـيـت‎, translit. Jabal Ḥafīt, "Mount Hafeet"; variously transcribed Jabal, Jabel or Jebal and Hafit or Hafeet – literally "empty mountain") is a mountain in the environs of the city of Al Ain in Eastern Arabia. Al-Ain is in the Eastern Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, on the United Arab Emirates' eastern border with Oman.

Like Al Hajar Mountains, it is shared between the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

The mountain has given its name to a period in UAE history, the Bronze Age (3200 to 2600 BCE) Hafit Period, because of the discovery of a cluster of important Bronze Age beehive tombs at its foothills.

Flora and fauna

A captive Arabian leopard at a nearby zoo. Wild leopards had been seen in this area in the 20th century. The mountain is home to endangered species.

On the mountain has been observed the yellow bloom of Acridocarpus orientalis. Numerous other plants have been seen around caves in the mountain.

The caves of Jebel Hafeet are a natural habitat for a wide range of animals, including bats, foxes, snakes, rodents, and hyraxes. The lizard Acanthodactylus opheodurus, which until 1982 was considered extinct in the UAE, has been observed in the area. Among the birds, there is the greatest biodiversity of the whole country: a study counted 119 species of birds.

Finally, they have been cataloged, with about 200 different insects, and 23 species of butterflies. Recently, seven species of lacewing insects were discovered here. They were previously thought not to have been in this country, but in Saudi Arabia. The Arabian tahr is also found here.

In 1949, an Arabian leopard was spotted here by Wilfred Thesiger. In 1976, one was shot and wounded, as reported by Hellyer, who claimed another sighting in 1993.

The leopard is now possibly extinct in the country's wilderness. In addition, rock hyrax were recently introduced here, and could serve as prey for the leopard, if the latter had to be re-introduced.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ain al-Fayda - Al Ain Area - Abu Dhabi

Ain al-Fayda, looks to be an abandoned construction site West of the Jebel Hafeet. Leaving the construction area and we drove out in the desert to look for birds.

Zakher Lake - Al Ain Area - Abu Dhabi

Zakher Lake

(Arabic: بُحَيْرَة زَاخِر‎, translit. Buḥayrat Zākhir) is a man-made lake in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. It was created from treated waste water that was released onto land, which pushed up groundwater levels and eventually resulted in the development of a lake.


Al Mamzar Beach Park - Dubai

One of Dubai's top vagrant hotspots, if not THE best.
A must during migration, late August to early November and late February through May, but can also be good in winter.
- From UAEBIRDING.COM - Click HERE for more info and maps from UAEBIRDING.COM

Mushrif Park - Dubai


Mushrif Park

(in Arabic: حديقة مشرف) is 5.25 square kilometre (1300 acre) family-oriented park in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is located in the eastern part of the city (near the suburb of Khawaneej), about 16 km (10 mi) from the traditional center of Dubai. The park was created in early 1980s by Dubai Municipality and was widely expanded and refurbished in 1989.

Besides presenting 13 models of Arabic and English houses. The park presents other facilities including bicycle track, electronic entertaining games, football fields, theater screenings, excursion and barbeque services.


For resident Pallid Scops Owl and wintering raptors. Can hold some interesting warblers during migration and in winter.
- From UAEBIRDING.COM - Click HERE for more info and maps from UAEBIRDING.COM

Middle East bird watching map

Bird checklist

I never use any bird lists, but since I try to make it in to Cloudbirders. A very helpful site when planning your birding trips. But they ask for a bird checklist, and if I use their service, of course I want to contribute as well. My two first bird watching trip reports was rejected by Cloudbirders.

So I started to take ideas from the reports I found on Cloudbirders. So I have started to use bird lists, eBird generate one for me and I can post it on Cloudbirders. I will post my birds on eBird and on my different “BIRDS THAT I HAVE OBSERVED” pages.

Check lists can come in handy to find out the local name of the bird etc. And Avibase have a list with pictures and sounds, excellent!

So I will post bird checklists here and if my Guides provide me with checklists I will also post them here.


Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World

United Arab Emirates bird checklist from Avibase, click HERE

Avibase is providing you with bird checklists from all over the world. And I´m impressed by their web page. Select country and area and you get the bird checklist. Like the PDF files I got from Avibase on the links above. You also get the checklist with pictures and sounds.

The best part is that you get the local names of the birds and the online checklist gives the names in English plus the language you have selected. But it seems like the PDF cannot handle some alphabet.

For example the Japanese language so it is blank in the PDF checklist. But it worked excellent with Swedish. But you get them in the local language on the online version.

UAEBIRDING.COM have a checklist with the names in English and Arabic. Can be downloaded by clicking HERE Updated regularly, so make sure you have the latest copy by visiting UAEBIRDING.COM

Bird list

I only listed birds I have got on picture before I started with eBird in November 2019. Now I record all the birds that I can identify. Before that see the DAY TO DAY reports and my lists of observed birds in different countries.

And you can visit my list of “Birds I have seen in the Middle East

My eBird checklists can be found HERE


Click on the links below for daily bird watching results:

Thursday 29 November 2018: Flying to Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Thursday 29 November 2018: Bird watching at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai

Friday 30 November 2018: Bird watching in Dubai
• Al Warsan Lakes - Dubai
• Al Qudra Lake, Saih Al Salam - Dubai
• Al Quadra Pivots, Saih Al Salam - Dubai
• Oasis Lakes, Saih Al Salam - Dubai
• Wadi Shawka, Ra's al-Khaimah

Saturday 1 December 2018: Bird watching in Abu Dhabi
• Al Jimi Oasis
• Jebel Hafeet
• Ain al-Fayda
• Flooded area behind Ain al-Fayda
• Zakher Lake

Sunday 2 December 2018: Bird watching in Al Mamzar Beach Park, Dubai

Monday 3 December 2018: Bird watching in Mushrif Park and Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai

Tuesday 4 December 2018: Bird watching at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai

Wednesday 5 December 2018: Bird watching at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai before flying home

Bird watching trip report




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