There are two hides as Ras al Khor that look out into the sanctuary. Having sampled both of them, I feel that the Mangrove hide (Google Earth ref; 25°11'9.19"N 55°19'45.57"E) has a wider range of species to be seen, but the Flamingo Hide (Google Earth ref; 25°11'33.75"N 55°18'44.32"E) allows closer views of the birds. The two hides open between 10.00 and 16.00. Birds can be seen from the lay-by at Mangrove without access to the hide; at Flamingo Hide it is not so easy.
To get to the Flamingo hide, it is necessary (from most of Dubai) to pass the Mangrove Hide first, so make that your first call and soak up a few species before moving on for the close up view of the Greater Flamingos at the Flamingo Hide. At Mangrove Hide today were Northern Shovelers, Eurasian Spoonbills, Western Reef Herons and Greater Spotted Eagles.
Waders included Kentish Plover, Black-tailed Godwit and a Common Snipe. Unfortunately the birds were rather distant, but the security guard in the hide provides a scope to allow visitors to view them.
Birds seen at Mangrove Hide; 16
Northern Shoveler 60, Northern Pintail 8, Green-winged Teal 4, Greater Flamingo 250, Grey Heron 3, Great Egret 4, Western Reef-Heron 15, Eurasian Spoonbill 35, Greater Spotted Eagle 4, Kentish Plover 6, Common Ringed Plover 15, Black-winged Stilt 45, Black-tailed Godwit 3, Little Stint 15, Common Snipe 1, Black-headed Gull 1
1.5 miles clock-wise around the lagoon brings you to the Flamingo Hide. The causeway reaches further out into the reserve here and the Greater Flamingos are fed just in front of the hide. They had been fed earlier and were roosting when I arrived at 11.00. The tide had peaked early this morning and was a distant memory now. Many of the wading birds had followed it out, but a few lingered within spotting scope distance. This hide also has a security guard who offers free use of his scope to anyone who would like to use it.
A single Eurasian Curlew probed the mud in good light to the north of the hide. Grey Plovers could be seen a long way off as could a couple of Common Redshank and a Terek Sandpiper. After a short while a flock of Kentish Plovers and Little Stint flew in as if they had been flushed from somewhere else.
Birds seen at Flamingo Hide;
Greater Flamingo 600, Black-bellied Plover 2, Greater Sand Plover 1, Kentish Plover 20, Common Ringed Plover 35, Terek Sandpiper 1, Common Sandpiper1, Common Greenshank 1, Common Redshank 5, Eurasian Curlew 1, Little Stint 60, Curlew Sandpiper 8, Green Bee-eater 1, Crested Lark 2.
If you want to visit both hides, you must resign yourself to a full circumnavigation of the lagoon (actually, unless you run across a six lane motorway, you are likely to have to do the best part of a circle anyway). Although it is only 1.5 miles between the two hides, the roads have central reservations and it is not possible to turn into the lay-by unless you are travelling clockwise around the lagoon. To make the full circle is about 11.5 miles. It may prove difficult to find a taxi from the hide back to the city, so if you arrive by cab, ask him to wait. The only other option is to use a private car.
For previous visits to Ras al Khor, see the links below;