TRIP REPORTS: BIRDING THE WORLD

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES with OMAN

March 2001: annotated trip list

by Don Roberson
creagrus@montereybay.com


This is a list of 142 birds found by our group in the United Arab Emirates (plus a couple hours in Oman) between 6-10 March 2001. There were four of us: Rita Carratello, Dan Singer, Steve Bailey, and me. I personally recorded 132 of these birds: 128 native species + 4 introduced populations ["I" on list]. Some 22 native species were lifers for me and are marked by "**" on the list. Those species in brackets were seen by others on the trip but not by me. Those species that I photographed on this particular trip are marked by "[ph]" -- no effort was made to photograph except prized species or to take advantage of a good photographic opportunity. A number of the photos from this trip will appear on this website over time, often in family pages.
    The localities cited are described on the UAE 2001 trip report.

BIRDS

Tachybaptus ruficollis LITTLE GREBE
 25 at Wimpy Pits
Podiceps nigricollis EARED GREBE
 2 off Fujaira beach & 15 at Wimpy Pits
Phalacrocorax nigrogularis SOCOTRA CORMORANT **
 About 20 were seen from Fujairah beach; a number were roosting on buoys while others were swimming or flying by beyond the hordes of gulls & terns; this is a very long-necked cormorant with a distinctive jizz
Phalacrocorax carbo GREAT CORMORANT
 A couple from Fujairah beach and 50+ flying up Khor Dubai at dusk
Phoenicopterus ruber GREATER FLAMINGO [ph]
 50 or more were seen from the fast road by Al Ghar lakes (where we could no longer enter), another 50 at Khor al Beidah lagoon, and some 344 counted at Wimpy Pits
Egretta garzetta LITTLE EGRET
 About 10 in Fujairah area plus a half-dozen at Wimpy Pits
Egretta gularis WESTERN REEF-EGRET [ph]
 Ten or so were along the Fujairah shoreline (all dark morphs) plus a couple at Khor al Beidah
[Ardea cinerea GRAY HERON
 Dan & Rita had the only one at Khor al Beidah; I was surprised there were no Great Egrets A. alba since I'm so used to finding them elsewhere among other herons]
[Bubulcus ibis CATTLE EGRET
 Dan & Steve had 5 at Wimpy Pits]
Ardeola grayii INDIAN POND-HERON
 Three in the Fujairah vicinity
Plegadis falcinellus GLOSSY IBIS
 One basic-plumaged individual at the Wimpy Pits
[Alopochen aegyptiacus EGYPTIAN GOOSE
 A couple of presumed escapes flew into a pond at Ghantoot; there is apparently not yet an established introduced population in the UAE so not included in the total]
Anas penelope EURASIAN WIGEON
 A half-dozen or more at Wimpy Pits
Anas strepera GADWALL
 A dozen or so at Wimpy Pits
Anas crecca GREEN-WINGED TEAL
 Good numbers (~40) at Wimpy Pits
Anas platyrhynchos MALLARD
 Fair numbers (~20) at Wimpy Pits
Anas acuta NORTHERN PINTAIL
 A few (~8) at Wimpy Pits
Anas querquedula GARGANEY
 A nice pair at Wimpy Pits
Anas clypeata NORTHERN SHOVELER
 Fair numbers (~20) at Wimpy Pits
Aythya ferina COMMON POCHARD
 A lone female at Wimpy Pits
Pandion haliaetus OSPREY
 One over Fujairah along the beach
Gyps fulvus EURASIAN GRIFFON
 One soaring over the cliffs above Hanging Gardens, Oman
Circus aeruginosus WESTERN MARSH-HARRIER
 Scattered singles at Khalidiyah spit, Wimpy Pits, and Khor al Beidah
Circus macrourus PALLID HARRIER
 Three harriers over Al Wathba camel track fields were this species
Accipiter nisus EUROPEAN SPARROW-HAWK
 At least three were hunting the orchard at Al Wathba; another in Mushrif Park
Buteo rufinus LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD
 Nice scope views of one at Al Wathba camel track
Aquila clanga GREATER SPOTTED EAGLE [ph]
 One juv photographed in flight over Al Wathba
Aguila pomarina LESSER SPOTTED EAGLE **
 One adult in heavy wing molt at Al Wathba
Falco tinnunculus EURASIAN KESTREL
 Three studied at Al Wathba in hopes of Lesser Kestrel F. naumanni but no dice. Although I had studied these species ahead of time in Forsman (1999) I'd forgotten the key points; fortunately we ran into Dick Forsman in the UAE and got to discuss the problem in person!
Ammoperdix heyi SAND PARTRIDGE **
 A pair was along the roadside to the new resort at base of Jebel Hafeet
Francolis pondicerianus GRAY FRANCOLIN [ph]
 Several dozen heard daily throughout but many fewer seen; the interior birds are probably native but they have been introduced widely near cities
Porzana porzana SPOTTED CRAKE **
 At least three were skulking in the wet brush at Wimpy Pits; after some effort I saw one walking in the mud very Sora-like
Gallinula chloropus COMMON MOORHEN
 A few (~10) at Wimpy Pits
Fulica atra EURASIAN COOT
 Fair numbers (~30) at Wimpy Pits
Gallinago gallinago COMMON SNIPE
 At least 4 at Wimpy Pits
Limosa lapponica BAR-TAILED GODWIT
 A lone bird on Fujairah beach and fair numbers (~25) at Khor al Beidah
Numenius phaeopus WHIMBREL
 A couple on Fujairah beach and one at Khor al Beidah
Numenius arquata EURASIAN CURLEW
 Two each on Fujairah beach and at Khor al Beidah
Tringa totanus COMMON REDSHANK [ph]
 A common wader everywhere there was water (Al Ghar Lake, Fujairah, Wimpy Pits, and more than 100 at Khor al Beidah)
Tringa stagnatilis MARSH SANDPIPER
 Three along the edge of Al Ghar Lake we could drive, two at Wimpy Pits
Tringa nebularia COMMON GREENSHANK [ph]
 One at Fujairah, a couple at Khor al Beidah
Tringa glareola WOOD SANDPIPER
 I saw but one at Wimpy Pits but others had a dozen or so there
Tringa cinerea TEREK SANDPIPER
 Three at the high tide roost at Khor al Beidah
Actitis hypoleucos COMMON SANDPIPER
 Various individuals scattered at water-edge in the interior plus a few at Wimpy Pits
Arenaria interpres RUDDY TURNSTONE
 Good numbers (~75) at Khor al Beidah
[Calidris alba SANDERLING
 Steve had some at Dreamland Beach]
Calidris minuta LITTLE STINT [ph]
 The common stint on Al Ghar Lake (75+) with a few at Wimpy Pits and Khor al Beidah
Calidris temminckii TEMMINCKíS STINT ** [ph]
 Two studied at close range in a side channel to Fujairah beach; more at Wimpy Pits
Calidris alpina DUNLIN
 Fair numbers at Wimpy Pits
Calidris ferruginea CURLEW SANDPIPER [ph]
 Good numbers (~80) at Wimpy Pits and even more (150+) at Khor al Beidah; others on Al Ghar Lake
[Limicola falcinellus BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER
 Steve had a few on Dreamland Beach]
Philomachus pugnax RUFF
 A few (~8) at Wimpy Pits
Dromas ardeola CRAB PLOVER [ph]
 Rita, Dan & I counted 27 at the Khor al Beidah high tide roost; Steve had a dozen or so feeding at low tide on Dreamland Beach
Haematopus ostralegus EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER [ph]
 Twenty or more were in the Khor al Beidah lagoon
Himantopus himantopus BLACK-WINGED STILT
 Fair numbers on Al Ghar Lake and at Wimpy Pits
Recurvirostra avosetta PIED AVOCET
 Six on Al Ghar Lake
Pluvialis squatarola BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER
 Singles on Fujairah beach, at Wimpy Pits, and at Khor al Beidah
Pluvialis fulva PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER
 We counted 23 in the alfalfa fields in the middle of Al Wathba camel track
Charadrius hiaticula COMMON RINGED PLOVER
 Good numbers (~40) at Khor al Beidah; others had a few at Wimpy Pits
Charadrius dubius LITTLE RINGED PLOVER [ph]
 A dozen in the Fujairah vicinity plus some at Wimpy Pits
Charadrius alexandrinus SNOWY PLOVER [ph]
 Widely distributed in good numbers from Al Ghar Lake & Wimpy Pits to Khor al Beidah and Fujairah
Charadrius mongolus LESSER SAND-PLOVER
 Twenty or more were in the high tide roost at Khor al Beidah, plus a few elsewhere
Charadrius leschenaultii GREATER SAND-PLOVER
 At least three well into alternate plumage at Khor al Beidah. Dan & I spent some time studying them with scopes at close range and felt that at least one seemed likely the long-billed nominate race but another was decidedly shorter-billed and presumably originated from the central Asian populations
Chettusia leucurus WHITE-TAILED PLOVER ** [ph]
 Six at Wimpy Pits were an unexpected treat; they are scarce migrants in the UAE but have bred in the past
Vanellus indicus RED-WATTLED LAPWING
 A dozen or more at Wimpy Pits plus a few on Al Ghar Lake and at Fujairah
Larus hemprichii SOOTY GULL [ph]
 Common (40+) at Fujairah breach
Larus ridibundus BLACK-HEADED GULL [ph]
 Abundant (2000+) at Fujairah beach; others along the coast elsewhere and a couple on the Wimpy Pits
Larus genei SLENDER-BILLED GULL **
 Good numbers (50+) at Fujairah beach
Larus heuglini SIBERIAN GULL ** [ph]
 At least five on the Fujairah beach seemed clearly of this taxa but we had trouble with gulls despite having reference to Garner (1997) as there seemed to be a cline of mantle color in most flocks. Only the darkest-backed adults were considered heuglini
Larus cachinnans YELLOW-LEGGED (Pontic) GULL ** [ph]
 Presumably the common large gull on Fujairah beach (75+) but see the preceding discussion
Sterna nilotica GULL-BILLED TERN [ph]
 Five each at Fujairah and Khor al Beidah
Sterna caspia CASPIAN TERN
 A couple in flight over Khor al Beidah lagoon
Sterna sandvicensis SANDWICH TERN [ph]
 The common tern roosting in flocks on Fujairah beach (500+); others at Khor al Beidah
Sterna bergii GREAT CRESTED TERN
 A scarce tern (~10) in the flocks on Fujairah beach
Sterna bengalensis LESSER CRESTED TERN [ph]
 Another common species (300+) on Fujairah beach
Sterna hirundo COMMON TERN [ph]
 We felt there were some basic-plumaged Common Terns among the 100+ terns foraging over Fujairah beach (many in active wing molt). We thought there were a good number of Commons but a later photo review proved this an erroneous assumption; see the following species. Only one distant photo of a flock of terns on a beach shows a probable Common with them
Sterna repressa WHITE-CHEEKED TERN ** [ph]
 At least five adults among the small terns foraging over Fujairah beach were easily identified but the numerous basic-plumaged or imm terns here were confusing. We thought most were Common Tern but a review of my photos after our return by Colin Richardson, and reference to Olsen & Larsson (1995), revealed that almost all of the basic-plumaged terns I photographed were clearly White-cheeked Terns
Sterna saundersi SAUNDERíS TERN
 One studied in flight at Fujairah beach
Childonias leucopterus WHITE-WINGED TERN
 A lone basic-plumaged bird over the Wimpy Pits
Columba livia ROCK DOVE
 Widely introduced in cities and along the coast but the pairs on Jebel Hafeet seemed likely of wild stock
Streptopelia senegaliensis LAUGHING (Palm) DOVE
 Abundant everywhere
Streptopelia decaocto EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE
 Abundant in gardens, orchards, parks and urban areas
Psittacula krameri ROSE-RINGED PARAKEET (I)
 Introduced and seen daily in urban areas and parks
Caprimulgus aegyptius EGYPTIAN NIGHTJAR **
 One spot-lighted after dark sitting on a dirt road in alfalfa fields near the Wimpy Pits. This was a known stake-out, thanks to Colin Richardson, but required obtaining permission to enter the fields
Apus apus COMMON SWIFT
 A half-dozen over Mushrif Park
Apus pallidus PALLID SWIFT **
 Good numbers circling tall buildings in Abu Dhabi (where they nest) plus others around the Hilton Hotel in Fujairah and over Al Ain
Todirhamphus chloris COLLARED KINGFISHER
 Four individuals of the endemic race kalbaensis were in mangroves along Kalba creek; we had crippling views at close range through scopes
Merops orientalis GREEN BEE-EATER [ph]
 A few migrants seen daily from Al Wathba & Wimpy Pits to Mushrif Park and Khor al Beidah
Coracias benghalensis INDIAN ROLLER
 About a dozen seen enroute to and around Fujairah
Upupa epops EURASIAN HOOPOE
 A few migrants in the orchard at Al Wathba, at Khalidiyah spit in Abu Dhabi, and at Fujairah
Corvus splendens HOUSE CROW (I)
 Common (50+) around Fujairah where an introduced population is established
Corvus ruficollis BROWN-NECKED RAVEN
 I saw a pair near Fujairah and Steve had one at Dreamland Beach but they were surprisingly absent from the interior -- due to drought?
Lanius isabellinus ISABELLINE (Rufous-tailed) SHRIKE
 At least four were on sprinkler heads at the Al Wathba camel track; another was at Ghantoot
Lanius meridionalis SOUTHERN GRAY SHRIKE **
 A roadside shrike in the deserts (3 in Oman) plus a pair was nesting in the corner tree of the orchard at Ghantoot
Lanius nubicus MASKED SHRIKE ** [ph]
 Two were in the rows of tamarisks near Hilton Hotel, Abu Dhabi; a fabulous little shrike that may be the coolest-looking shrike on earth
Acridotheres tristis COMMON MYNA (I)
 An introduced species that is abundant in urban areas and parks throughout
Ammomanes deserti DESERT LARK
 Common around Al Ain including Jebel Hafeet and in Oman
Alemon alaudipes GREATER HOOPOE LARK ** [ph]
 We had 2-3 singing on territory in barren sand dunes near Al Ghar Lake while we were trying to find the way in (not knowing it was now fenced off and closed); these must be the greatest larks in the world with their outrageous wing patches, long bill, rolling flight, and beautiful thrasher-like song
Callendrella brachydactyla GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK
 We studied 4 along the Al Wathba camel track
Callendrella rufescens LESSER SHORT-TOED LARK [ph]
 A dozen were feeding in bare sand along the edge of the Al Wathba camel track
Galerida cristata CRESTED LARK [ph]
 The very common and widespread lark; too often an "interesting" bird turned out to be another Crested Lark. Good numbers at Al Wathba camel track, Fujairah, Wimpy Pits and Ghantoor
Riparia riparia BANK SWALLOW (Sand Martin)
 Small numbers over the Al Wathba camel track
Hirundo obsoleta PALE CRAG-MARTIN
 Scattered birds throughout recalling Northern Rough-winged Swallows, and in about the same habitat -- dry canyons, water edges, around deserted buildings
Hirundo rustica BARN SWALLOW
 Small numbers of migrants over the Al Wathba camel track
[Monticola saxatilis RUFOUS-TAILED ROCK-THRUSH
 Rita saw one from the car on Jebel Hafeet but by the time we got turned around it was gone.]
[Luscinia svecicus BLUETHROAT
 Steve & Dan had a migrant at Wimpy Pits]
Cercotrichas galactotes RUFOUS-TAILED SCRUB-ROBIN [ph]
 One migrant photo'd in the orchard at Al Wathba camel track; Rita had another at Wimpy Pits
Phoenicurus ochruros BLACK REDSTART
 A widespread migrant, apparently common on good migration days. We recorded singles at Mushrif Park, Jebel Hafeet, and Ghantoot, and had 4+ on Khalidiyah spit
Phoenicurus phoenicurus COMMON REDSTART [ph]
 Two males of the eastern race samamisicus, with a big white wing panel, were in the orchard at Al Wathba camel track
[Saxicola torquata COMMON STONECHAT
 One of the others had one at the Al Wathba camel track]
Oenanthe monacha HOODED WHEATEAR
 One male on territory near the top of Jebel Hafeet
Oenanthe alboniger HUMEíS WHEATEAR **
 At least 4 on various points on Jebel Hafeet, including the very top and the watered resort at the bottom, plus another in Oman
Oenanthe oenanthe NORTHERN WHEATEAR
 An imm male and a female were sitting on sprinkler heads at Al Wathba camel track
Oenanthe pleschanka PIED WHEATEAR
 A few widely encountered: imm male & female at Al Wathba camel track, and males at Wimpy Pits and Khor al Beidah
Oenanthe xanthoprymna RED-TAILED (Persian) WHEATEAR
 Three were in the rocky jumble around Hanging Gardens, Oman
Oenanthe deserti DESERT WHEATEAR
 Two at the desert edge of the alfalfa fields at Al Wathba camel track
Oenanthe isabellina ISABELLINE WHEATEAR
 The common wheatear sitting on sprinkler heads at Al Wathba camel track; it was fun having wonderful views and comparisons with 3 other species there
Turdus philomelos SONG THRUSH
 A half-dozen were feeding on the ground in the Ghantoor orchard but were very shy and skittish; learning the "tic" callnote was the only way to find them
Pycnonotus xanthopygos WHITE-SPECTACLED (Yellow-vented) BULBUL
 The desert bulbul of the interior, a dozen or more were on Jebel Hafeet and in the Hanging Garden canyon in Oman
Pycnonotus leucogenys WHITE-CHEEKED BULBUL (I) [ph]
 Common and widespread throughout. It is difficult to determine which birds might have been native (at interior oases?) since it was widely introduced along the coast. It was the dominant species in orchards at Ghantoot and the Al Wathba camel track. In India this taxa is split into two species: P. leucogenys is the Himalayan foothill bird (Himalayan Bulbul) with the desert and dry lowland bird known as White-eared Bulbul P. leucotis
Pycnonotus cafer RED-VENTED BULBUL (I)
 An introduced species seen in urban areas of Abu Dhabi and Dubai
Prinia gracilis GRACEFUL PRINIA
 A few daily in desert scrub: Ghantoot, Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi & Wimpy Pits
Acrocephalus stentoreus CLAMOROUS REED-WARBLER
 Three were singing up at storm in the mangrove on Kalba Creek (it took some time but eventually we all had superb views); others were singing at Wimpy Pits. Shirai (1995) was useful for identification
Hippolais rama SYKES' WARBLER **
 A couple were watched singing in the mangroves on Kalba Creek. This taxa is a recent split from Booted Warbler H. caligata but that postdates Sibley & Monroe (1981) and I don't know the reasoning for the split
Phylloscopus collybita EURASIAN CHIFFCHAFF
 The common migrant warbler throughout, encountered daily in small numbers (including one in Oman). I learned to think of it as the "Blackpoll Warbler" of the Middle East in migration -- except it is black-legged not pale-legged but it is a characteristic tail-twitcher and does recall fall Blackpolls a bit in its structure, behavior, and dullness. Oobviously, it isn't green with bright white wingbars (!) but strangely enough I found this concept useful
Phylloscopus neglectus PLAIN LEAF-WARBLER
 Two at Hanging Gardens in Oman were presumably late winterers. I had counted a bird seen back in July 1978 in Iran as this species, based primarily on range, but that was a very shaky tick. None of the literature really explains how to identify it, but it turns out in is dead easy for American birders. It sounds and acts just like a Ruby-crowned Kinglet! It is a tiny, short-tailed, nervous wing-flicker with a stuttering 'jeejeet" call that is just so reminiscent of the kinglet. Not a difficult to i.d. species at all ....
Sylvia communis GREATER WHITETHROAT
 One of the eastern race icterops in the orchard at Al Wathba camel track
Sylvia minula DESERT WHITETHROAT ** [ph]
 A very pale whitethroat photographed in the orchard at Al Wathba camel track was believed to be this species
Sylvia nana DESERT WARBLER **
 Singles of the nominate race were in very dry scrub out by Al Ghar Lake and in Oman; in flight the white outer rectrices are conspicuous as it lands
Sylvia mystacea MENETRIESí WARBLER **
 Reasonably common migrant (~7) in the orchard at Al Wathba camel track; another in Abu Dhabi
Turdoides squamiceps ARABIAN BABBLER
 A small flock was amazingly elusive in Mushrif Park but we eventually got decent views of the leap-frogging party near dusk
Motacilla alba WHITE WAGTAIL
 Recorded daily, sometimes in good numbers (e.g., 30 at Al Wathba camel track)
Motacilla citreola YELLOW-HOODED (Citrine) WAGTAIL
 Three snazzy birds around the Wimpy Pits
Motacilla flava YELLOW WAGTAIL
 I had but a single individual in Fujairah but others had more at Wimpy Pits
Anthus campestros TAWNY PIPIT **
 This was the common pipit in the alfalfa fields at Al Wathba camel track
[Anthus cervinus RED-THROATED PIPIT
 Steve & Dan had three late in the day at Al Wathba camel track]
[Anthus spinoletta WATER PIPIT
 Steve & Dan had one at the Wimpy Pits]
Hypocolius ampelinus HYPOCOLIUS **
 THE bird we'd come to see in the UAE. We spent hours in three different visits to the orchard at Ghantoot, twice with Colin Richardson. I saw one fly over on the first visit (the others glimpsed 3 more in flight) but the views were very unsatisfactory. Therefore Rita, Dan, and I returned on the morning and late afternoon of our final day and finally Dan found a perched male for long & crippling views. After watching this bird and its behaviors, I am inclined to think it is more closely related to bulbuls than to waxwings (it is traditionally placed near waxwings and sometimes considered to be in the same family Bombicilidae)
Nectarinia asiatica PURPLE SUNBIRD [ph]
 Common and widespread in parks and gardens and desert oases; recorded just about everywhere including Oman
Passer domesticus HOUSE SPARROW
 Abundant in urban areas
Petronia brachydactyla PALE ROCKFINCH **
 One spotted by Rita and then scoped at the base of Jebel Hafeet
Lonchura malabarica WHITE-THROATED MUNIA [ph]
 The "Indian Silverbill" was regular in the orchards at Ghantoot (active nest found) and Al Wathba camel track; also seen in Oman
[Emberiza striolata HOUSE BUNTING
 Steve had one coming to drink at the lone remaining pool in the Hanging Gardens of Oman. I heard its "tic" call-note but never laid eyes on this potential lifer.]

PHOTOS: All photos (if any) on this page are © 2001 Don Roberson; all rights reserved.

Literature cited:

Birdlife International. 2000. Threatened Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Forsman, D. 1999. The Raptors of Europe and the Middle East: A Handbook of Field Identification. T & A.D. Poyser, London.

Garner, M. 1997. Large white-headed gulls in the UAE -- a contribution to their field identification. Emirates Bird Report 19: 94-103.

Olsen, K. M., and H. Larsson. 1995. Terns of Europe and North America. Christopher Helm, London.

Shirai, H. 1995. Identification and taxonomy of large Acrocephalus warblers. Dutch Birding 17:229-239.

Sibley, C. G., and B. L. Monroe, Jr. 1990. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, CT.

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