Monday, 25 March 2013

Dubai 2013 - 14th March 2013

I woke up early and watched a magical sunrise over a Arabia. The border lights of Oman were switched off along with the roadside lamps as the new day started.

It wasn't long before the birds appeared and they didn't seem to mind the gardeners watering the lawn. The sprinklers encouraged the birds to look for insects amongst the plants and grass around the mini golf course. The garden lights, walls and fences became perches as the birds looked for breakfast.

We decided to spend the morning around the hotel and recorded 19 species of which six were added to the trip list.

Red-tailed Wheatear
Indian Silverbill
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush
Black Redstart
Hooded Wheatear
Chukar Partridge

Red-tailed Wheatear, Hooded Wheatear and Chukar Partridge were new species for me.

At the end of the day, the trip list was 98 species.

Sunset from Jebel Hafeet


Dubai 2013 - 13th March 2013

Today, we headed to Jebel Hafeet near Al Ain and a new area for me to experience. The desert drive from Fujairah was an experience and I was glad I was not behind the wheel. The road was 'straight as a die' and lined on both sides with beautiful sand dunes. You would think that one sand dune would look very much like another, but in fact there is no symmetry in both colour, structure, shape or visual appearance. The wind and nature has carved a habitat that is too easy on the eye.

As we approached Al Ain, we headed for the Green Mubazzarah an area whose's name and location has intrigued me. As we drove in, a Grey Heron flew out from the reeds and in a small creek a Squacco Heron was waiting for unsuspecting fish to swim by. The area is a large green corrider under the Jebel Hafeet mountain and a passage for birds to stop a find shelter, food and water.

We spotted the following birds for our list.
Desert Wheatear
Arabian Wheatear
Arabian Partridge
Blue Rock Thrush
Daurian Shrike
Hume's Wheatear
Crag Martin.

The Arabian Partridge and Hume's Wheatear were new species for me.

We left the Green Mubazzarah and headed up the mountain to the top to look for Desert Lark and the view. The view was magnificant as we looked down on Al Ain and Oman you felt on top of Arabia.

We left the Desert Larks to collect the last crumbs of the day and headed to the Mercure Hotel.

My room in the Mercure Hotel had a view of the gardens, so I spent a few hours standing on the balcony watching the sky changing from day to night. I spotted about six Egyptian Vultures circling near the summit of the mountain presumably looking for a place to roost. Then in the garden below a pair of Spectacled Bulbul were feeding, so I finished the day with a list total of 92 species.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Dubai 2013 - 12th March 2013

Today we heading to Fujairah to visit Kor Kalba, a prime mangrove habitat home to White-collared Kingfishers'. Since last years visit the area has been completely fenced off with the only viewing from the entrance bridge. A fragile habitat, which hopefully will be looked after for few generations. As we scanned the mangroves, several Green Turtles appeared in the water below.

No White-collared Kingfisher were seen, but we did record Curlew, Sooty Gull, Gull-billed Tern and Striated Heron.

After leaving, Kor Kalba we stopped further along to shore opposite a large sand bank. Before scanning with the telescope we could see a large flock of gulls roosting, but again once we looked carefully the hidden gems appeared.

Steppe Gull
Slender-billed Gull
Little Tern
Bridled Tern
Lesser Crested Tern
Swift Tern
Common Tern
Sandwich Tern
Armenian Gull

The Swift Tern and Armenian Gull were lifer species for me.

We closed the day on 80 species and headed to our hotel called Nour Arjaan. As I watched the light drop from the hotel window I noticed a city roost of approximately 500 Common Myna birds in the trees and on the window ledges around a mobile communications building down the road. Birds flew in from across the city rooftops heading for a favoured tree or branch. After a few moments of jostling when accepting a new arrival, the birds settled again and calm was restored. Local people walked past the building possibly unaware of sleeping Myna's as the street lights shone brighter and the night time started.


Dubai 2013 - 11th March 2013

The afternoon was spent at the Pivot Fields which had certainly changed since last year's visit. A small build up of water near a creek was a small haven for birds. Stopping to feed, drink and bathe the diversity of birds species was amazing.
Green Sandpiper
Little-ringed Plover
Bank Myna
Lesser Yellowlegs
Yellow Wagtail (Black-headed)
Temmincks Stint
White-tailed Lapwing

Moving away from the water, we spotted the following birds on the grassland.
Cattle Egret
Siberian Stonechat
Sykes Wagtail

The Bank Myna birds were a lifer species and there must have been a flock of 30 birds feeding.

Dubai 2013 - 11th March 2013

I woke up to a new day and from my hotel window I watched a male Kestrel fly past the hotel and perched on top of the artificial ski run building connected to the Emirates Mall. Urban birding has plenty of challenges, but there are rewards to be found as I felt privileged to watch the aerial agility of one of our loved falcons.

Today's trip was to Safa Park and despite the well-kept appearance of this green space I thoroughly enjoyed walking the paths checking the trees and bushes for hidden gems. Several Swallowtail butterflies were flying about, but unfortunately they did not stop for me to photograph them. The new additions from this site were House Crow, Pied Myna, Purple Sunbird, Little Grebe, Mallard and an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler.

The photograph below is a House Crow, seen in Safa Park.

Dubai 2013 - 10th March 2013

I boarded a plane at Newcastle Airport with the temperature at 3.5°C and got off in a warm dark Dubai at 24°C. After waking up, I opened the curtains of the hotel room to find a beautiful Laughing Dove sitting on an rooftop aerial. The list had begun, my first bird of this year's holiday was closely followed by a House Sparrow and a Black-headed Gull. I was staying at Centro by Rotana in Barshi, Dubai close to the massive Emirates Mall in the centre of the city. The artificial ski run within the mall is a massive building and as I watched the locals from the 2nd floor driving along the road, waiting for a bus or walking by there were birds to be found within this great metropolis.

I left the hotel and went to my brother's flat overlooking the Emirates Golf Course. The bird sightings continued at a fair rate of knots with 11 species seen in twenty minutes watching from the lofty heights of the 18th floor.

Common Myna, Green Bee-eater, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Collared Dove, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Indian Roller, Hoopoe, Common Swift, Grey Francolin and my first lifer species 2 Pale Crag Martins hawked insects below. What a start!

We heading to Ras La Khor, a great wetland area of International Importance for birds.
Greater Flamingo
Black-winged Stilt
Great White Egret
Little Egret
Western Reef Heron
Grey Heron
Little Stint
Black-tailed Godwit
Marsh Sandpiper
Common Kingfisher
Great-Spotted Eagle
Graceful Prinia
Willow Warbler
Common Sandpiper
White Wagtail
Ringed Plover
Kentish Plover
Northern Wheater
Red-wattled Plover
Lesser Sand Plover
Common Snipe
Woodchat Shrike
Crested Lark

Time for lunch with the list standing at 43 species.

We went to the local shopping mall for a light lunch and as we walked past a water feature within the mall a Common Bulbul appeared collecting crumbs, so another species was found.

After lunch, we went to Mushrif Park which has diverse habitats home to a wide range of birds. At this site we spotted three new species Red-vented Bulbul, Marsh Harrier, Arabian Babbler. There were 3 Arabian Babblers together and this was a new species for me.

As the day drew to a close my holiday list was 48 species with 2 new lifers.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Garden Birdwatch - Week Starting 3/3/13

Collared Dove 3
Blackbird 2
Blue Tit 2
House Sparrow 7
Dunnock 1
Goldfinch 5
Starling 1
Jackdaw 2
Feral Pigeon 2
Coal Tit 1

Food: Sunflower Hearts, Seed, Peanuts, Fat Balls & Kitchen Scraps

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Today was one of those days when you win some and lose some. However, thats birdwatching for you!

I started off at Hartlepool Headland looking for a Red-necked Grebe, but I didn't manage to see the bird during my stay. Next stop was Newburn to look for a Mediterranean Gull which thankfully was resting on the beach within a flock of Black-headed Gulls.

As I moved down the coast I stopped at Seaton Common to look at the gull flock, but shortly after arriving the flock took to air and went on to the landfill site. I decided to drive down to the North Gare car park and walk to the breakwater. Upon reaching the start of the breakwater, I scanned the sea noting 12 Red-throated Diver, 1 Black-throated Diver, 2 Common Scoter, 2 Eider and a Harbour Porpoise in Hartlepool Bay. In the Tees Estuary, there were more Red-throated Diver, 4 Guillemot and 2 Razorbill.

After spending lunch at the Teesmouth Field Centre, listening to the birds singing I walked the Nature Trail and noted 18 species.

Year List Update

2013 Bird List = 97 (Mediterranean Gull, Razorbill, Meadow Pipit, Tree Sparrow, Song Thrush)

2013 Mammal list = 7 (Harbour Porpoise)

2013 Butterfly List = 0

2013 Moth List = 2 

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Garden Birdwatch - Week starting 24/2/13

Collared Dove 5
Blackbird 2
Blue Tit 2
House Sparrow 3
Dunnock 2
Goldfinch 5
Robin 1
Starling 9
Jackdaw 6
Feral Pigeon 3
Woodpigeon 2
Coal Tit 1
Sparrowhawk 1
Black-headed Gull 2

Food: Sunflower Hearts, Seed, Peanuts, Fat Balls & Kitchen Scraps

Mammals: Wood Mouse

Year List Update

2013 Bird List = 92 (Rock Pipit, Siskin, Bullfinch, Jay, Buzzard, Common Gull & Lesser Black-backed Gull)

2013 Mammal list = 6

2013 Butterfly List = 0

2013 Moth List = 2

I put my moth trap out lastnight because it was the first recording night for the Garden Moth Scheme. Sadly this morning my trap was empty.
Today's birdwatching started at St. Mary Island near Whitley Bay, Northumberland. The tide was low, so there were plenty of rocks for the birds and visitors. On the sea there was a Red-throated Diver, several Eider and a raft of Teal which presumably had taken refuge whilst some scrub bashing was taking place by the pool in the wetland area. A small group of gulls did not contain any white-winged ones, only Black-headed, Common and Herring Gull. As I approached the causeway to the lighthouse I could hear Rock Pipit and found four all feeding a quiet spot away from the people.

After St. Mary's I went to Washington Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. The feeding station was a busy area with Great Tit, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Siskin, Bullfinch, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch (missed by me) and Pheasant.

After leaving the feeding station I walked around the centre, catching a glimpse of a Jay as I watched some of the collection birds. I couldn't resist taking this photograph of these three Barnacle Geese as the sunlight was beginning to fade.

A quick stop at Barmston Pond, produced two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls.