Saturday, 21 January 2017

Birds of Dubai

Dubai is synonymous with gold, tallest buildings, malls, skyscrapers and so on. But Dubai also has something for bird watchers. Ghumakkad had a real treat visiting Ras-Al-Khor Wildlife Sanctuary (RAKWS) in January 2017. Located 30 minutes away from Dubai International Airport, it is a well protected wetland reserve. Open from 7 AM till 5 PM, it offers great views from a 'hide' specially constructed for visitors. There is no entry fee. Friday is a holiday. It is home to almost 500 greater flamingos.

Visitors are not allowed to walk inside the wetland. There are two hides. No.1 called 'Mangrove Hide', gives a good view of the wetland and its variety of birds. Whereas Hide No. 2 is called the 'Flamingo Hide' because it is located close to where flamingos live. In both hides, if you do not have a binocular, have no fears. A telescope permanently mounted on a swivel stand takes you close to the birds. Once again, no extra coins or fees for the telescope unlike the Sea Lion Viewpoint on the Pacific Coast in California. The hides also have pictures of birds likely to be sighted for ease of identification. A short 30 second video inside the hide to get a feel.

There are birding and natural history groups in UAE like and Dubai Natural History Group (DNHG). Mr Ajmal Hasan of DNHG had made a spell binding presentation at BITS Alumni Global Meet (BGM)- excerpts of which had been posted earlier in the blog (click here for the story). Ghumakkad gratefully acknowledges the help and guidance given by Capt Tommy P Pedersen of UAE Birding group. Although Tommy could not come for a birding trip as he was flying (he is Captain of B777 Airliner with Emirates Air), we exchanged mails. He also helped me with the identification of birds. Errors, if any, are solely mine!

Enough said in words, let the pictures take over.

Seagulls are very photo-friendly. Here is a series of shots of Slender-billed Seagull doing many things that morning.

One morning while walking in Noor island in Sharjah cornice, I saw a Grey Heron perched majestically on a yacht's railing. Take a look at the Heron against the backdrop of Sharjah skyscrapers. 

We moved to Hide-2 next. Located two miles away from Hide-1, Hide-2 offers close look at resident flamingos.

Almost 500 Greater Flamingos have made the RAKWS wetland as their home. Here is a short 30-sec video to see the flamingos live!

Seeing the co-existence of Greater flamingos along side concrete skyscrapers was very reassuring that all is not lost. See the picture below. 

As if on queue, after I had taken enough pictures, the flamingos started to walk away. Were the flamingos saying 'Thank you dear photographer for not disturbing us'?
So, next time you are in Dubai do take time out for bird watching. Full marks to UAE government for maintaining the ecological balance in the desert kingdom. Apart from RAKWS, there are many more sites for bird watching in UAE like Al Ain and Al Ain cement factory quarries, Lulu Island, Jujairah, Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Dibba, Wamm Farms in the east and Sila’a in far west.

Hope you liked the birds of Dubai and UAE.
Thanks for browsing

   Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 20th Jan 2017