I landed in the early hours of the morning, in Dubai International Airport. When I got to my grandparents' house just outside Dubai, I slept for a few hours, and got up at around 7 AM to do some garden birding. My photos seemed to have improved since last year's visit!
A Red-vented Bulbul at the top of a tree (the majority of the birds come to this tree throughout the day: I will refer to it as 'the Tree')
Not my best shot of the species, but here are my first Arabian Green Bee-eaters!
A distant Rose-ringed Parakeet
Laughing Dove perched on the windowsill
A Common Myna calling from the Tree
House Sparrows practising their dance routine
Two Green Bee-eaters on a metal frame outside the house
The same pair: are they mating?
In the afternoon, I visited a relatively-new nature reserve on the Sharjah-Ajman border, called Wasit Wetland Centre, or Al Wasit for short. It consisted of a few aviaries, and obviously, a giant wetland. It was so huge that visitors had to go on a golf cart safari around the reserve! One disappointment of the safari was that we didn't visit all the hides, as only very few visitors were allowed on site at any one time, but I managed to get a few shots, and not just of birds...
Two Sand Gazelles resting by the roadside
Close-up shot of a Sand Gazelle
A blurry Kentish Plover
Distant Greater Flamingos
A flock of White-eared Bulbuls
Probably the highlight of the visit to Al Wasit- a Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse running away from me (it didn't even see me)!
A pair of curious Sand Gazelles
Black-winged Stilt in an open-air enclosure
Red-wattled Lapwing in the same enclosure
2nd April 2018
Visited some friends in Dubai for the whole day. They were very keen to visit the nearby Ras Al Khor Nature Reserve (which I had been to once before), so we visited the two hides just before they closed.
The very few Greater Flamingos at the Lagoon Hide
My second sighting of a Great Egret in the UAE
A digiscope shot of a lifer: a Great White Pelican!
Western Reef Heron (I had to correct the Lagoon Hide's guard, who thought it was a Grey Heron)
This Little Egret flew right next to the hide!
Great Egret with Black-winged Stilt
Curlew at the Flamingo Hide: there were no Flamingos!
A terrible shot of Gull-billed Terns
White-eared Bulbul on a tree facing the mudflats
The Dubai skyline and Ras Al Khor in the sunset
Not just birds: a Common House Gecko in a residential area outside the reserve
3rd & 4th April 2018
Over the next couple of days, I mainly garden birdwatched, but saw many birds while visiting family too.
The Green Bee-eater Pair
A blurry pic of one of the pair
White-eared Bulbuls, seen while visiting family
Laughing Dove with something in its mouth
Indian Silverbill at the bird bath
A fluffy-looking Common Myna, Dubai Mall
Common Myna, Dubai Mall
5th April 2018
After seeing my first Hume's Whitethroat in the garden, I went back to Ras Al Khor to see the Flamingos being fed. This time, the Flamingo Hide was packed with tourists, so it was very hard to find somewhere to see the birds!
The Flamingos, as if they expect to be fed
Walking up to the feeding station
A close-up shot of one of the many Flamingos
A lone Curlew, missing out on the fun
A fight breaks out
Another lifer- a Graceful Prinia
My best shot of one of the Green Bee-eater pair
9th April 2018
After three very busy days with hardly any time for birding, I managed to capture the evening antics of the resident Indian Silverbills in the Tree.
Indian Silverbill with a new hairstyle, given by the wind
Waiting for the rest of the flock
A blurry shot of a Silverbill preening
10th April 2018
The last day of the trip. I visited a nearby reserve in Ajman called Al Zorah, as well as the adjacent Al Zorah Golf Course.
A disk I found on the shore
Got great views of Crested Larks on the golf course
A pair of White-eared Bulbuls on the perimeter fence
Black Headed Gulls
Mixed flock of gulls and terns
Greater Flamingo, Oystercatcher, Kentish Plover, Dunlin, Little Stint, Curlew, Pacific Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Spoonbill, Baltic Gull, Water Rail, Caspian Gull and Great Egret all on the same lake (those are all the species I have identified so far)!
After getting many life ticks from Al Zorah, I headed back to my grandparents' house for some garden birding. Suddenly, I saw a tiny, iridescent bird at the top of the Tree. I knew it could only be a bird I had been wanting to photograph for over three years, and when I zoomed in, it flew away. For about half an hour, I tried to track it by its distinct call, until I found two of them fighting in a bush next to the Tree. It paused for a second, and I finally got a rewarding shot. It was a Purple Sunbird!
Purple Sunbird, after half an hour of tracking
Overall, this year's trip was amazing, getting many more life ticks and visiting more sites. Next time, I hope to visit a reserve in Umm-al-Quwain called Khor-al-Beidah, an important site for migratory waders. I also hope to see my two target species: Crab-plover and Hypocolius!