It is a city park, much like any other park in any other city, in that it has extensive lawns, picnic areas and playgrounds for the children. A few tell-tale signs that it is located within the Emirate of Dubai are a Ladies’ Garden and the towering pinnacle of Burj Khalifa which is visible from anywhere in the park.
I was not in a positive mood this morning and had resigned myself to seeing only the common and conspicuous species. I had never heard of the park before and did not realise its potential.
Those who have ever gasped at the electric blue of a roller’s wing will understand how my day brightened when an Indian Roller flashed across the path and into a tree across the lawns. If ever a family of birds were designed to be conspicuous and to lift a mood, it is the Coraciidae.
The Ladies’ Garden looked the birdiest area that I had seen so far, but signs barring entry to bearded birders, left me peering keenly through the railings in a manner likely to cause any ladies within some discomfort. Luckily there were none, but an Isabelline Shrike, Asian Pied Starling and a Song Thrush made me wish that I was bold enough to sneak in while no-one was looking.
Birds species; 33
Little Grebe 6, Grey Heron 1, Western Reef Egret 1, Egyptian Goose 2, Gadwall 1, Eurasian Teal 14, Mallard 12, Northern Shoveler 5, Grey Francolin 3, Black-winged Stilt 1, Red-wattled Lapwing 4, Common Greenshank 1, Wood Sandpiper 1, Common Sandpiper 4, Black-headed Gull 150, Eurasian Collared Dove 15, Laughing Dove 20, Rose-ringed Parakeet 6, Indian Roller 11, Eurasian Hoopoe 3, White Wagtail 3, White-eared Bulbul 20, Red-vented Bulbul 12, Song Thrush 3, Bluethroat 1, Graceful Prinia 5, Willow Warbler 5, Purple Sunbird 3, Isabelline Shrike 2, House Crow 150, Common Myna 50, Asian Pied Starling 5, House Sparrow 200.
A little known author, Charlie, from 10000 Birds was lucky enough to visit Safa Park in May 2005 and catch the migrants as they passed through. I must give him and his friend Steve James a nod for the Willow Warblers. I was really struggling until I saw Steve's ID info and Charlie's picture of the yakutensis form.
I also find that a site called http://www.uaebirding.com/birdingsites.html exists. Like Charlie's post, I didn't see it until after my return, but if anyone is thinking of a trip to UAE, this should be your first port of call for information about sites and birds that may be seen there.