Ah, another Dubai weekend. Another day at the pool. Another attempt to visit Dubai’s Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary.
As you may recall, last week’s Ras Al Khor adventure entailed two hours of frustratingly circling between route 44 (Al Khail Road) and route 66 (Al Ain Road) to locate three unsigned bird watching stations only to arrive at one and find a “Closed Fridays” sign.
This weekend, we ventured out on a Saturday and armed ourselves with better maps (including the one below that was printed from UAE Birding which is no longer on their website). I added the route #s for reference:
We drove along Al Khail Road (route 44), passing the bird sanctuary on the opposite side of the road, came upon a pretzel interchange where we (hopefully) would make the correct choices of on-off ramps, and (hurray!) made it to the other side of Al Khail Road. We slowed down the car to make sure we didn’t pass the little pink brick-paved sideroad that led to Mangrove hide, found it and screamed for joy that we had made it on the first try this time around!
There were a few other cars parked there so that was a good sign. Upon entering the viewing hide, we came upon a seated park ranger (or whatever they are called here) who didn’t seem like he wanted to be there but he did get out of his chair to pantomime how to use the telescope (he may not have spoke fluent English).
At Mangrove hide, we saw one Greater Flamingo (this one had pink legs but black wing tips), great white egrets, herons, black-winged stilts, ringed plovers, and a Greater Spotted Eagle (in flight with the Dubai skyline behind it – awesome!). Here’s a photo of some egrets we saw:
Next we managed to maneuver through another pretzel intersection onto route Al Ain Road (route 66) and found Flamingo Hide without too much trouble thanks to the map above.
It’s no wonder why this viewing station is called Flamingo hide – there were tons of Greater Flamingos – and these had pink legs AND pink wingtips unlike the loner we saw at Mangrove Hide (although we did see a buddy of his walking away from his pink cousins). At this hide, we were greeted by a very friendly ranger who helped us identify some birds, even showed us an Osprey, and told us where to go to buy some UAE bird books. We also saw Kentish Plovers, White Wagtails, and a duck that looked like a mallard. But the Flamingos stole the show:
As the third viewing station is closed due to construction around the area, I won’t bore you any further about bird talk but will leave you with a photo (blurry b/c it was taken from a distance) of the loner Flamingo. Notice it is not pink like the others:
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Edited to add (Jan 16, 2008): Scotch recently told me told me that the flamingo in black is not a loner or outcast as I had thought, but actually a juvenile flamingo.
Page 22 of our Bird Book has this to say about the Greater Flamingo:
Status: partial migrant. Winters Turkey, Near East, Cyprus, also coasts of Arabian Gulf, Red Sea and Arabian Sea. Rare Jordan and vagrant Lebanon.
Habitat: saline coastal lagoons, salt-lakes, mudflats. Breeds colonially on mud banks or in shallow water of salt-lakesbuilding mud-heap nest, a few centimeters above water.
We bought Birds of the Middle East (2010) by Richard Porter and Simon Aspinall at Magrudy’s Dubai for AED175 ($47.70). You can also purchase via Amazon:
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