Friday, 29 November 2019


Thanks for waiting for me...

The old boy pushed it a bit...but it paid off...BIG style!!! What a day. Never imagined I'd be back so soon on the Fortunate Isles. Scilly isn't what it used to be? More later...

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

UAE 19 - Day 21

Nice relaxing final day around Fujairah. I tried a couple of new sites before lunch, both of which impressed. I even managed a UAE tick in the form of a single Coot!

This afternoon was spent down at Kalba, watching the Waders, Terns and Gulls. Gotta love those Sooty Gulls! An excellent way to end a fantastic trip.

Full write-up on return...

UAE 142
Trip 119

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

UAE 19 - Day 20

Today was just one of those that just fitted into place.

I DID make it to Wamm Farms...and look what I found!!!

Absolutely knackered BUT very happy. Sadly, a fast diminishing species, so obviously a much treasured record. I also saw 2 LONG-BILLED PIPITS, a new species for me.

This afternoon was far more leisurely with a short drive down to Khor Kalba Harbour to enjoy the wonderful Sooty Gulls once more. I counted 42. Both Sand Plovers were also present.
UAE 141
Trip 118

Monday, 25 November 2019

UAE 19 - Day 19

I didn't make Wamm Farms this morning, as the trip is catching up with the old fella! Instead I enjoyed a tremendous "lie-in" until 8.30.

We tried a couple of Wadis later...Sidr and Musafi. Spectacular scenery, albeit very few birds! I did finally achieve much better views of the diminutive PLAIN LEAF WARBLER...the smallest "phylosc" apparently. Far too quick for my camera.

Second attempt at Wamm Farms tomorrow. Confident I'll make it this time.

Today's offering...

Socotra Cormorant...another Arabian speciality
UAE 136
Trip 114

Sunday, 24 November 2019

UAE 19 - Day 18

Sooty Gull, Khor Kalba Harbour
Nuff said!!! 44 seen here.

Plenty of sightings today but no time for details I'm afraid, especially with a 5am start tomorrow for my first visit to Wamm Farms in the far north east of Sharjah Emirate, on the Oman border.

UAE 135
Trip 113

Saturday, 23 November 2019

UAE 19 - Day 17

Stopped off on the way to Fujairah at Al Qudra to try and connect with LAPPET-FACED VULTURE or ARABIAN BABBLER. Still no luck with either...BUT...

White-tailed Lapwing showing rather well!!!
I watched this rare and elegant wader for a magical 30 minutes down to 5 yards from the car. Very memorable.

On our approach to Fujairah a Short-toed Eagle circled high over the City...

UAE 130
Trip 102

UAE 19 - Day 16

Friday was spent with Rob and Laura at the DP Dubai Golf Classic We had a fabulous time enjoying great close up views of the cream of European Golf...

We also enjoyed the 5 star treatment on the evening with a magnificent buffet at one of Dubai's premier hotels. Happy days!


We're moving on to Fujairah tomorrow morning for a four day stay on the East Coast.

Stay tuned...

UAE 19 - Day 15

It's now Thursday the 21st...I think!

We spent the day down at Abu Dhabi after I'd another Sandgrouse fix at the Bike Cafe, Al Qudra.

After dropping Louise off at the enormous Yas Mall I made my way to Al Wathba Wetlands for a very pleasant 3 hours...

After taking the loop I was elated to find my main target here, the White-tailed Lapwing...

It's over there somewhere!
After much fiddling I achieved a decent hand-held image through the heat haze...

I also added a few new UAE ticks including  decent raft of Pochards.

UAE 130
Trip 101

UAE 19 - Day 14

Back to Al Qudra this morning to try for a BVD of a Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse. Mission accomplished... eventually...

The afternoon was spent trying and failing (again) to connect with the very rare SOCIABLE PLOVER at Al Saad Farms near Al Ain.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

UAE 19 - Day 13

Today's highlight was undoubtedly achieving great views of both Sandgrouse! I'd searched extensively for these birds, so VERY satisfying to finally find them.

Pin-tailed (introduced)
Wonderful birds!!!

I spent the afternoon searching for Sociable Lapwing (Plover) at Al Saad Farms west of Al Ain. Tried hard but no luck. Had a possible PIN-TAILED SNIPE though. One for the dark Winter nights!

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

UAE 19 - Day 12

Great day today. No time for details BUT I found this...

Bimaculated Lark
Rather chuffed!

I also added...


Another excellent and fortunate day.

UAE 128
Trip 97

UAE 19 - Day 11

Today was spent to the North of Dubai in the Umm Al Quwain area, about an hour from Rob's house.

Top birds today were (UAE ticks in red)...

Terek Sandpiper


Little Green Bee-eater

Isabelline Shrike

Great Grey Shrike

Always a balance...between Birding, socializing and blogging! I don't always get it right BUT I'm happy with how it goes these days...I think! Three days until the "weekend" here then we leave Rob and Laura and head North-east to Fujairah for our hotel for four nights to finish off our holiday. I still have birds to try for before we leave, I just have to decide when and where?

UAE 126
Trip 93

Sunday, 17 November 2019

UAE 19 - Day 10

A wonderful afternoon was had at Jebel Hafeet, Al Ain today. 8 Egyptian Vultures gave me an unbelievable fly-past at low level. One of the best Birding experiences I've had...EVER!

Here's the one that landed...

I can't do justice in the time I have available. I don't want to be anymore anti-social than I already am!

I later looked for Sociable Plover at Al Saad (no, not me!) Farms. No luck today BUT I will return to try for this rare bird.

UAE 19 - Day 9 update

A purple patch Saturday morning at Al Qudra. Rob and Laura are moving house, so we had a few hours free and boy did it pay off...


Saturday, 16 November 2019

UAE 19 - Day 8/9

I joined Robert for his golf lesson yesterday morning...

Not a bad backdrop!

Afternoon out with Rob at a local theme park yesterday. A bit of fun for the boys! More fun in the evening with a few beers at an Irish pub for my birthday treat...21x3!

I pick our car up this evening which will give us more time and scope for our second week here.

Update: A purple patch Saturday morning at Al Qudra. Rob and Laura are moving house, so we had a few hours free and boy did it pay off...


Friday, 15 November 2019

UAE 19 - Day 7

Slow start today after the morning commute...

Around 11 we headed South again to Al Qudra. I wanted to reach a few more sites from eBird. Having the Jeep certainly helped. We drove the tracks to the South Cycle area...

Targets here were Cream-coloured Couser, Greater Hoopoe Lark and Lappet-faced Vulture. None seen but a very relaxing hour was spent in total solitude. Definitely "away from it all". We see some amazing things on our travels. Today we came across this environmental centre which looked like something off Star Trek..

There was a large solar-powered electrical power station also. No problem with raw material here!

I'd looked yet again for Arabian Babbler at the Bike Cafe without success so I decided to try another series of lakes known as Duck Lakes.

Now then, as us Birders know only to well, you can search and search for target birds to no avail. It can be frustrating at times but it's always a challenge I want to take on. As well as birds you know are out there, you hope you may come across something more " unexpected ". Today was such a day.

As we approached the first lake I noticed a bird in the top of a distant bush that looked " good". It was obviously a Bee-eater but it didn't look that "little ". I reached for my bins and there it was...a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater.

As you know, when planning a trip you always dream of stumbling across a scarce/rare migrant. I'd just done so. Happy days. There are a few records every Autumn but the window was closing. Looking at eBird my record is at the latter end of the window

Too brief for my camera, unfortunately and I couldn't re-locate it in the next hour before dusk...

A tremendous end to our first week. Friday and Saturday is the weekend here, so time will be spent with Robert and Laura with limited or no Birding. I pick my hire car up on Saturday evening which will give more time for Birding next week, when they return to work.

Stay tuned.

Trip 71
UAE 120

Thursday, 14 November 2019

UAE 19 - DAY 6

The morning didn't go to plan as after I dropped Rob off at work, I tried a couple of City Centre Parks. I guess you can imagine trying to navigate central Dubai!

The first park Al Mamsar was having a women and children only day! The second at Safa Park had a phone parking system! Maybe I should have researched more...but I'm not that smart....or bothered!

So, back to the house to pick Louise up and out into the Bab al Sham desert to look for a particular favourite of mine. I'd seen a couple last year in a specific area so I thought I'd try the same place again. there's a LOT of Desert!

It took a while BUT I eventually found one in the relatively "cool" 33C (I was in the Jeep)...

Greater Hoopoe Lark (70)
A cool the heat.

We had the last hour back at Expo Lake watching the sun go down. Very few people about and a perfect end to the day.

UAE 19 - Day 5

Tuesday 12th

D63! That's the name of the road out of the City towards the area known as Al Qudra. It's a 40 minute drive from Robert's place.

There's a series of lakes, creating an Oasis which is a magnet to birds. There are some introduced Wildfowl to confuse matters somewhat but there's also plenty of wild birds to look for.


Cream-coloured Courser


Still, had a nice relaxing time and saw some great birds...

Black-tailed Godwit...

Glossy Ibis...

Added...UAE ticks in bold

Ferruginous Duck...

Cattle Egret...

Marsh Harrier c20
Pallid Harrier - male
Spotted Redshank
Isabelline Shrike...

Trip total 69
UAE 119

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

UAE 19 - Day 4

Settled in now, so time for a twitch!

A WHITE-CROWNED WHEATEAR had been found way up in the Northern Mountains at Al Jaroof Village...

Robert's Jeep Sahara came in handy, as the last few miles were on a dirt road. We had directions from Tommy Pederson, a resident of the UAE and a keen Birder who runs the UAE Birding website.

We arrived around noon. The directions were excellent (which is always a good start) so I sorted out a spot for Louise to read and I began searching. He had mentioned a wall that looked like a dam and I spotted one that looked "good". I gave it 30 minutes but nothing was seen...

There was more than one area like this. I had co-ordinates but I'd unsurprisingly lost my signal here.

I then tried the obvious hill with the radio mast...

Unfortunately there were two chaps having a discussion right by the mast! However as I scanned there it was, just below them!!! Amazing really...

Proof indeed
It was only there for a few seconds but I was rather chuffed to grab an image of any sort, especially when I didn't see it again in the subsequent FOUR hours. Apparently this was only the 14th record for the Country with many of those being "untwitchable". In fact this was the first "twitchable" bird for TWENTY years! Lucky me. Combine this with the MOURNING WHEATEAR I found at Jabel Hafit on my last visit, the UAE has been kind to me. I also saw 4 Pale Crag Martins and an Indian Roller...

Oscar Campbell, another resident birder based in Abu Dhabi had also been kind enough to provide me with some information. I'd already had one failed attempt to find Hamrinayah Fields, a key site in the North of the Emirates. Second time lucky as I arrived at the turf farm around 3.30pm. Water in the desert = birds. The first bird I saw was this smart chap on the fence...

Little Green Bee-eater

A better view than I managed in the whole trip last year!
I spent a wonderful hour scanning the assortment of waders present including a Caspian Plover...
New species for the trip (UAE ticks in bold)
Greater Sand Plover
Little Ringed Plover
Pacific Golden Plover
Curlew Sandpiper
Temminck's Stint
Little Stint
Citrine Wagtail
Tawny Pipit
Red-throated Pipit
Water Pipit
Indian Silverbill
Trip Total 61
UAE ticks 12

Sunday, 10 November 2019

UAE 19 - Day 3

Had a run up the Coast today to try a new spot, namely Hamraniyah Fields. A Caspian Plover was seen there yesterday. No luck but we had a couple of hours there, getting a feel for the area. Great views of Indian Rollers, Little Green Bee-eaters and Red-wattled Lapwings.

Maybe a trip for a MEGA tomorrow?

Off to watch the Footy with Robert...

Saturday, 9 November 2019

UAE 19 - DAY 1/2

After a late arrival we took it easy on our first day (Friday) with a trip to Ra's Al Khor slap bang in the middle of Dubai. An amazing place with plenty of Birdlife including the wonderful Greater Flamingo...

Nice to get early and excellent views of a Striated Heron...

Juvenile Night Heron...

Also nice to see (Greater Spotted) Eagles (4) over a major City...

Have to go for now.

35 species seen including a couple of UAE ticks...Teal and Curlew Sandpiper.

Quiet day Saturday...

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

UAE - Time for a change of scene

My jaunts to Cornwall over the last couple of weeks plus other commitments i.e. work has meant holiday planning hasn't been completed. No matter, I've done enough to have a good idea of my basic plan. I'll check eBird tomorrow for the latest rarities as they will be the focus of my initial jaunts.

My final comments on the contentious birds of the Autumn...

It seems I'm in good company regarding doubting birds yet still travelling to see them! We're a funny lot us twitchers...


I'll be writing a diary of my trip to hopefully provide some interest for you, especially if you're thinking of visiting the area.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Puzzling Pipit?

Yes...I bit!

I made the journey to Sennen, Cornwall yesterday morning for this controversial bird. Yet another!!!


Understandable ID confirmation and provenance issues, as always, rear their heads with such birds. So why did I go if I have doubts? I went for the experience. I still enjoy the challenge and let's face it, I don't get many opportunities these days!

The weather was horrendous on the journey down with gale force winds, lashing rain and significant surface water on the M5. I made it though. On reaching Penzance I paid a visit to Tesco for some provisions, hoping the weather would didn't!

I made my way up to the site at Sennen arriving around 2pm. It then stopped raining. I parked and got my stuff together. There had been one early morning report but nothing since? I could see the group of Birders over the wall and they did appear to be "focussed". I negotiated the wall...eventually...

...and joined the group. Sure enough the bird was showing to around 20 yards!! No pic I'm afraid as I deliberately left it in the car due to the weather...and the grotty bird!

The massive field
I watched it for around 15 minutes then returned to exercise Bud before the next downpour...which duly arrived.

VERY lucky with my timing.

I stayed overnight in a very reasonable B&B and cruised back today. So there you go. I've seen it. An insurance/obligation/hypocritical...possible tick! Hypocritical because I've turned down birds I don't rate in the past, as you may remember? Trouble is, most things seem to get the thumbs up these days and I don't want to get relegated lol!  As already stated, I guess there's no cure for the thrill of the chase...even though this time it was less than thrilling. It will be interesting to see what's decided regarding this particular occurrence. No European records and poor condition can't help its case I feel? Time will tell.

The bottom line knows BUT a decision will have to be made and I will adhere to it purely for listing purposes. If that confirms my be it!


UAE planning all but complete now. I'll be doing a diary, if you care to follow?