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Dubai / Persian Gulf

I was sent to Dubai twice in 2019. The first time late March was planned and I had binoculars with me but never left the harbour area. The second visit was 03-17th May, this time unplanned and without binoculars but I did get some offshore time......

The trip in late March produced little in the way of birds with a few Pallas's Gulls in the harbour being the best sighting. Other than these it was just Black-headed Gulls and House Crows.

Pallas's Gull in the harbour in Dubai
Pallas's Gull, Dubai, March 2019
Picture taken with a superzoom

I returned in May but this trip was not exactly planned for and as such I had no luggage, no binoculars and no DSLR. Equipped only with eyes and a "point and pray" superzoom I had to make the best out of the few chances I got to look at any birds....

For the first few days I was stuck in a hotel but one morning I took 20 minutes free to walk around the block. This produced a selection of the commonest birds in the area, White-eared Bulbul, Graceful Prinia, Common Mynah, Red-wattled Lapwing, House Sparrow, Indian Silverbill, Laughing Dove, Collared Dove and House Crows were the species I managed to identify here. Some flocks of swifts went unidentified.

Red-wattled Lapwing, Port Rashid, Dubai, May 2019

Red-wattled Lapwing, Port Rashid, Dubai, May 2019
Red-wattled Lapwing, Dubai, May 2019
This pair had well grown young they had reared on a roundabout on a very busy road near Port Rashid

White-eared Bulbul, Port Rashid, Dubai, May 2019
White-eared Bulbul, Dubai, May 2019

Graceful Prinia, Port Rashid, Dubai, UAE, May 2019
Graceful Prinia were common along the roadside close to my hotel

Part of the Dubai skyline, taken from a crewboat on the way out to the vessel.

Platforms in the Persian Gulf
Oil Platfom in the Persian Gulf

Marsh Warbler, Persian Gulf, May 2019
Migrant Marsh Warbler feeding on deck, Persian Gulf, May 2019

Sunset in the Persian Gulf
Sunset in the Persian Gulf

Marsh Harrier resting on the ROV A-frame
Leaving Dubai, May 2019

Bridled Tern, Persian Gulf, May 2019
Bridled Tern, Persian Gulf, May 2019

A six hour transit in a small boat out to the vessel I was joining produced several Bridled Tern and a few Greater Crested Terns.

Once offshore I was, as so often the case, stuck inside. Towards the end of the trip I had some opportunities to pop out on deck. There was almost always a passerine on deck feeding on the huge number of grounded insects. The only species I managed to identify were Willow Warbler, Marsh Warbler and a Yellow Wagtail (the latter as I left the vessel).

Once night I went out on deck for a breath of fresh air and was rewarded with several Sooty Gulls feeding around the vessel - no doubt attracted to the small fish and other creatures attracted by our lights.

Seabirds were generally limited to small feeding parties of Greater Crested Terns and Bridled Terns. However, on one occasion a group of well over 200 Greater Crested Terns rested on the hose of a loading buoy, among them were several Lesser Crested Terns and a few Cormorants were knocking about.

The way home was once again in a small boat. This time I was not hunched over a laptop and manged to see two migratingLong-tailed Skua, two Barn Swallows  and quite a few more Bridled Terns and Greater Crested Terns.

Greater Crested Terns with Lesser Crested Terns, Persian Gulf, UAE, May 2019
Greater Crested Terns with two Lesser Crested Terns (front centre) resting on a loading hose offshore in the Persian Gulf, May 2019

Migrating Grasshopper, Persian Gulf, May 2019
Just one of several grasshoppers that turned up on deck on an oilfield in the Persian Gulf, May 2019

Migrating Cicada, Persian Gulf, May 2019
Cicada onboard - well offshore
Insects were very common in the Persian Gulf - so there was plenty of food for any stranded migrant birds

Charging a dead camera battery.....
Charging a dead camera battery
As the trip was so unplanned I did not even have the charger for my camera battery with me. I did, however, have access to a few helpful bits and pieces which meant I managed to charge the battery without this essential bit of gear. Not the first time I've had to do something like this offshore....

Port Rashid and the Dubai skyline by night
Port Rashid on our way home....

English name Scientific Name Comments
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo A few present on Rashid Field 16-17 May 2019
Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus Breeding on a roundabout near Port Rashid 04-06 May 2019
Long-tailed Jaeger Stercorarius longicaudus Two migrating adults seen 17 May (between Rashid Field and Port Rashid)
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus Numerous Port Rashid, 25-26 March 2019
Sooty Gull Ichthyaetus hemprichii Four seen feeding at night on the Rashid Field, 11 May 2019
Pallas's Gull Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus A couple seen in Port Rashid 25-26 March 2019
Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus Small numbers seen offshore (up to several per day)
Great Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii Commonest tern in May 2019. Observed daily offshore with a maximum of ca 200 on Rashid field 17 May
Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis Small numbers seen in May 2019 on Rashid Field. Several birds present on 17 May
Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto A few seen near hotel(Hilton Garden)
Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis Common near hotel (Hilton Garden)
House Crow Corvus splendens Regular around hotel & Port Rashid
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Two seen offshore, migrating south on 17 May
White-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus leucotis Common near hotel (Hilton Garden)
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus One seen offshore on Rashid Field 14 May
Marsh Warbler Acrocephalus palustris One seen offshore on Rashid Field 16 May
Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis Common near hotel (Hilton Garden)
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis Common near hotel (Hilton Garden)
Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava One seen offshore on Rashid Field 17 May
House Sparrow Passer domesticus Common near hotel (Hilton Garden)
Indian Silverbill Euodice malabarica A few seen near hotel (Hilton Garden)

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