Wednesday 18 February 2015

Dubai, Feb 2015

February continues apace with another life tick in the glorious form of a Pharaoh Eagle-Owl. Actually, 2 if you don’t mind.

The eBird invigilator for Dubai, Tommy Pederson (he of fame), took me to a reliable spot to the south of the city, close to the Green Community. The first owl flushed before we saw it, but a second allowed me to take a couple of shots. One step closer and she (might have been he. It felt like a she, though I have no way of knowing) flushed too.

As we moved further along, the birds flushed again. Tommy felt that they were much warier than he had seen them before, so we backed out and left them alone.

Tommy dropped me at Safa Park for an evening hour with the common park birds of Dubai. Hoopoes featured of course as they picked through the lawns and I nearly got the Indian Roller shot that I have been longing for since I first set eyes on one in flight.

The park is undergoing a lot of work. Whether this work will make the park better, or the city bigger was unclear, but the northern edge and the east end have been dug over and fenced off. One of the fenced bodies of water has been drained and only very few ducks remained. One curious individual was a Mandarin Duck. Did there used to be an exotic collection there?

Safa Park is within easy reach of Downtown Dubai and about 10 mins in a cab from the Emirates Mall on Sheik Zayed Road, the main drag through downtown. In the perimeter railings, there are 4 gates which open 08.00 ‘til 23.00 (currently, the gate halfway along the north edge and the gate at the east end are not useable).  There is a 3 Dirham entry fee. On Tuesdays, the park is restricted to ladies and children only. A fenced and hedged section at the west end of the park is reserved full-time for ladies and children.

For a more detailed description of the park visit the dedicated Middle East Page, where there are four posts with bird lists.

Bird list for Safa Park, Feb ‘15;

Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Gray Francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis)
Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)

Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)
Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)
House Crow (Corvus splendens)
Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer)
White-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus leucotis)
Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis)
Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)
Asian Pied Starling (Gracupica contra)
Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus)
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

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