Chris had already told me about a park fairly close by, so I had scoped it out on Google Earth and had a rough idea of how to get there. He had also mentioned there were lots of taxis about that I would have no problem getting one back to the house and that they were relatively cheap. Taxi? From the park? Jeez, its not that far!
So as the guys left for work and school I was loading up with water bottles and heading out.
|Grey Francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus) aka the "suicide bird"|
They turned out to be Grey Francolins, a species that had been deliberately introduced to the UAE. I don't know why, possibly as prey for hunting with falcons?
They are also a contender for the world's noisiest bird with a distinctive alarm call.
Apparently in certain parts of Asia, where this bird originates, there is no higher compliment for a lady than when her man tells her she "runs like a partridge".......hmmm I think I'll pass on that one.
I slowly made my along the long dusty path that runs beside the boundary fence of the local covered reservoirs, several Green Bee-eaters were feeding and I sat in the shade of a Date Palm and watched one individual scanning the air for flying insects then darting upwards to catch them then returning to its vantage point. After studying him for a while longer I realised he was about to cough up a pellet of the more indigestible parts of the insects that were his breakfast.
|Green Bea-eater (Merops orientalis) coughing up a pellet. You can just make out a black mass emerging from the birds bill.|
|Eclipse plumaged male Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus) note the black stripe from chin to throat and upper breast.|
|Female Purple Sunbird on the toxic Sodom's Apple plant|
Other species I saw in this area, which is effectively a large housing estate included; Common Myna, White-cheeked Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, Laughing Dove, Collared Dove, House Sparrow, Crested Lark, House Crow, Indian Silverbill and Rose-ringed Parakeet (also known as Ring-necked Parakeet and can be found breeding in the south of England)
|Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) seen in about a 1:10 ratio when compared with the White-eared Bulbul|
|Rose-ringed Parakeet or Ring-necked Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) feeding on dates|
I carried on down through the houses until I reached the park area, encountering a fairly large number of House Crows there, also Indian Roller with its amazing blue wing pattern and a good number of Hoopoe feeding away on the short grass of the park area seemingly unperturbed by the groundsmen whizzing around on their sit-on mowers. Result!
|Hoopoe (Upupa epops) feeding on grubs|
By now I had been out for about 3½ hours it was very hot and I had run out of water. So I decided to head back to Chris's for some cold drinking water and air conditioning. I spotted another Indian Roller on the way out of the park area but couldn't get close an the bird was wisely hiding in the shade of the trees, unlike the photographer who was stood out in the midday sun slowly melting.
|Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)|
I just sat there for five minutes while I got my act together, looking across at a piece of dry, dusty wasteland at the side of the road, the last place I expected to find a wader - a pair of Red-wattled Lapwing, coping with the heat much better than I was. Amazing.
Spurred on by the tick, I walked at what can only be described as "a snail's pace" the rest of the way back to Chris's house where I drank about a gallon of icy cold water and basked in the chill of the AC.
Checked the outside temperature - 45°C!
Oh and I may have had a wee siesta after seeing that number.
Now I understood Chris's parting shot about taxis....
In the next episode: I have to get up at stupid o'clock, see nearly all of the emirates in one day and LOTS of birds but feel like dying again at lunch time.