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Podiceps cristatus

Vogel des Jahres 2001
German Bird of the Year 2001


Twitchers' Guide for the United Arab Emirates
Edited by Simon Aspinall & Peter Hellyer

UAE Birds (under Natural Emirates - Birds / Twitchers' Guide)

Twitchers' Guide for the United Arab Emirates
for the week ending 21st December 2000

No doubt whatsoever about this week's Bird of the Week, with a couple of marbled teal (Marmelente) being discovered by Emirates bird recorder Colin Richardson at the Wimpey Pits on 20 December, and staying to be well-twitched. A 3rd UAE record - but since the last record was back in 1975 and the species is declining throughout its range, it's better than yet another UAE 1st. There was one of those too, though, Abu Dhabi's tawny eagle (Savannenadler) being re-sighted, while other good birds during the week included lesser spotted eagle (Schreiadler), an unusual black kite (Schwarzmilan), Eversmann's redstart (Sprosserrotschwanz), crested honey buzzard (Schopfwespenbussard), ruddy shelduck (Rostgans) in two locations, sociable plover (Steppenkiebitz) and, of course, hypocolius (Seidenwuerger) at Ghantut (though not always easy to find).

To the records.

A crested honey buzzard (Schopfwespenbussard) and a lanner (Lannerfalke) with jesses were at Hamraniyyah on 15 December. At the Fujairah National Dairy Farm were a 2 spotted eagle (Schelladler) and 2 steppe eagles (Steppenadler), peregrine falcon (Wanderfalke), 2 sand martins (Uferschwalbe), a Blyth's pipit (Steppenpieper), 5 Richard's pipits (Spornpieper), c. 50 tawny pipits (Brachpieper), 3 meadow pipits (Wiesenpieper) and singles of tree pipit (Baumpieper) and red-throated pipit (Rotkehlpieper), along with c. 60-80 skylarks (Feldlerche), well down on the count a week or so ago. Also on the 15th, the lesser spotted eagle (Schreiadler) was over Abu Dhabi's Western Lagoon again, while 2 white-tailed plovers (Weissschwanzkiebitz), 2 lapwing (Kiebitz), 2 snipe (Bekassine) sp., a grey plover (Kiebitzregenpfeifer), 35+ Kentish plovers (Seeregenpfeifer) and 100+ little stints (Zwergstrandlaeufer) were at the Mafraq sewage ponds. A red-rumped swallow (Roetelschwalbe), 25 barn swallows (Rauchschwalbe), 2 sand martins (Uferschwalbe) and a sociable plover (Steppenkiebitz) were at the Al Wathba Camel track. A visit to Wimpey Pits found 10 black-necked grebe (Schwarzhalstaucher), a glossy ibis (Sichler) (scarce this winter), a marsh harrier (Rohrweihe), 3 white-tailed plovers (Weissschwanzkiebitz), a spotted redshank (Dunkler Wasserlaeufer), 8 whiskered terns (Weissbart-Seeschwalbe), single marsh sandpiper (Teichwasserlaeufer) and wood sandpipers (Bruchwasserlaeufer), a desert wheatear (Wuestensteinschmaetzer) and 2 clamorous reed warblers (Stentorrohrsaenger). 13 Saunder's little terns (Zwergseeschwalbe) and 10 white-cheeked terns (Weisswangen-Seeschwalbe) were off the Abu Dhabi breakwater, while on Khalidiya were a remarkable 44 chiffchaffs (Zilpzalp) along with 2 hoopoes (Wiedehopf), a black redstart (Hausrotschwanz) and a male Orphean warbler (Orpheusgrasmuecke). At the Sharjah University City dump were 10+ black-necked grebe (Schwarzhalstaucher), 7 cattle egrets (Kuhreiher) (18 the next day), 2 Egyptian geese (Nilgans), 8 ruddy shelduck (Rostgans), a goodly number, 2 shelduck (Brandgans), 10+ wigeon (Pfeifente), 30+ teal (Krickente), 30+ gadwall (Schnatterente), 10+ garganey (Knaekente), 20+ mallard (Stockente), 20+ pintail (Spiessente), 50+ shoveler (Loeffelente), 30+ pochard (Tafelente), 3 ferruginous ducks (Moorente), an avocet (Saebelschnaebler), 100+ whiskered terns (Weissbart-Seeschwalbe) (!), and 2 white-winged black terns (Weissfluegel-Seeschwalbe).

On 16 December, good views were had over Abu Dhabi's Traffic Police of the tawny eagle (Savannenadler) first reported a couple of weeks ago, this time escorted by a pale phase booted eagle (Zwergadler), while a red-breasted flycatcher (Zwergschnaepper) was seen elsewhere in the city. A pale honey buzzard (Wespenbussard) was at Safa Park, along with a couple of wigeon (Pfeifente) in the lake. A squacco heron (Rallenreiher), 6 ruddy shelduck (Rostgans), a shelduck (Brandgans), a marsh harrier (Rohrweihe), a sparrowhawk (Sperber), a lapwing (Kiebitz), 8 red-throated pipits (Rotkehlpieper) and around 10,000 black-headed gulls (Lachmoewe) were at the Sharjah University City dump.

On 17 December, highlights of a visit to Safa Park included 3 night herons (Nachtreiher) and a little green heron (Gruenreiher), 2 wigeon (Pfeifente), 2 gadwall (Schnatterente), a pochard (Tafelente), 3 coot (Blaesshuhn), 7 hoopoes (Wiedehopf), a song thrush (Singdrossel) and 2 isabelline shrikes (Isabellwuerger). 2 hypocolius (Seidenwuerger) and a robin (Rotkehlchen) were at Ghantut. A male Eversmann's redstart (Sprosserrotschwanz) was found on the dunes at Al Jazeerah khor.

On 18 December, a little bittern (Zwergdommel), a night heron (Nachtreiher), a single Pacific golden plover (Pazifischer Goldregenpfeifer) (where were the others?), 2 marsh sandpipers (Teichwasserlaeufer), a European kingfisher (Eisvogel), a citrine wagtail (Zitronenstelze), 2 bluethroats (Blaukehlchen) and 6 isabelline shrikes (Isabellwuerger) were at the Emirates golf course. 5 white-tailed plovers (Weissschwanzkiebitz) were found at the Sharjah University sump.

On 19 December, the Sharjah University dump had a squacco heron (Rallenreiher), 8 cattle egrets (Kuhreiher), a little egret (Seidenreiher), an Egyptian goose (Nilgans), 3 ruddy shelduck (Rostgans), a shelduck (Brandgans), a short-toed eagle (Schlangenadler), a sparrowhawk (Sperber), a kestrel (Turmfalke), 130 black-winged stilts (Stelzenlaeufer) (about to colonise, no doubt), 2 lapwings (Kiebitz), 24 ruff (Kampflaeufer), 3 common snipe (Bekassine), 6 marsh and 4 green sandpipers (Waldwasserlaeufer), only (!) 6,000 black-headed gulls (Lachmoewe) and 400 large gulls, a mixture of cachinnans and barabensis with a single Siberian (heuglini/taimyrensis).

The Birds of the Week, the 2 marbled teal (Marmelente), were found at the Wimpey Pits on 20 December (and prompted what was, for the UAE, a pretty large-scale twitch. Other birds present included 14 black-necked grebe (Schwarzhalstaucher), 2 Egyptian geese (Nilgans), a garganey (Knaekente), 3 gadwall (Schnatterente), a spotted eagle (Schelladler), 2 coot (Blaesshuhn), 2 white-tailed plovers (Weissschwanzkiebitz), a lapwing (Kiebitz), a spotted redshank (Dunkler Wasserlaeufer), a meadow pipit (Wiesenpieper), 2 citrine wagtails (Zitronenstelze), at least one reed warbler (Teichrohrsaenger) and a singing chiffchaff (Zilpzalp). A spotted eagle (Schelladler) was over Abu Dhabi's Eastern Lagoon. Around 200 shoveler (Loeffelente) and a mixed 50 mallard (Stockente) and teal (Krickente) were at the Ain Al Faida pump-station, along with a marsh harrier (Rohrweihe), greenshank (Gruenschenkel), 4 green sandpipers (Waldwasserlaeufer), 3 little stints (Zwergstrandlaeufer), 2 white-tailed plovers (Weissschwanzkiebitz) and 2 red-wattled plovers (Rotlappenkiebitz) and a desert wheatear (Wuestensteinschmaetzer).

A good clutch of records from many locations for 21 December. 5 or 6 spotted eagles (Schelladler) were over Khor Dubai along with a remarkable raft of 120 pochard (Tafelente), 65 Caspian terns (Raubseeschwalbe), 50+ spoonbills (Loeffler), 28 black-tailed godwits (Uferschnepfe) and a black kite (Schwarzmilan) (NOT of the usual lineatus race). At the Sharjah University City dump were 27 greater flamingos (Rosaflamingo), 2 ruddy shelduck (Rostgans), a shelduck (Brandgans), 2 lapwings (Kiebitz), 3 wood sandpipers (Bruchwasserlaeufer) and a mere 1000 or so black-headed gulls (Lachmoewe). The Eversmann's redstart (Sprosserrotschwanz) was still at Al Jazeerah Khor, along with a long-billed pipit (Langschnabelpieper), a desert warbler (Wuestengrasmuecke) and an Orphean warbler (Orpheusgrasmuecke). Delighting visitors from Abu Dhabi up for a weekend twitch, the 2 marbled teal (Marmelente) were still at Wimpey Pits. Seen there and at the nearby pivot fields were most of the usual, plus 16+ black-necked grebe (Schwarzhalstaucher), 23 cattle egrets (Kuhreiher), a purple heron (Purpurreiher), the glossy ibis (Sichler), 2 Egyptian geese (Nilgans), 3 ruddy shelduck (Rostgans), 3 water rails (Wasserralle) (a country record?), 2 spotted eagles (Schelladler), 10+ common snipe (Bekassine), a spotted redshank (Dunkler Wasserlaeufer), 50+ pallid swifts (Fahlsegler), a Blyth's pipit (Steppenpieper) and 15 bluethroats (Blaukehlchen). 14 song thushes were at Ghantut, but NO hypocolius (Seidenwuerger).

A week with enough to keep everyone interested. And, judging by first reports from 22 December, the year's going to go out in style!

Happy New Year

A REMINDER: Twitchers' Guide is designed as a weekly news feature, not as an official record of authenticated sightings, and should not be cited in any publication. All records are subject to adjudication. Contact details for visitors to the Emirates, and for submission of reports and information: Twitchers' Guide (Simon Aspinall & Peter Hellyer) P O.Box 45553, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Tel: (Mobile): Abu Dhabi 971-(0)-50-642-4357/642-4358. Fax: 9712-4450458. E-mail: hellyer@emirates.net.ae OR aspinallsimon@hotmail.com or Emirates Bird Records Committee (Secretary: Colin Richardson). Telephone: Dubai (9714)-3472277, Fax: 3472276. P.O.Box 50394, Dubai, UAE, e-mail: colinr@emirates.net.ae

Reports from Oman are courtesy of the local daily e-mail hotline The Oman Birder, and are not official in any way. Again, these reports should not be cited.

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