Saturday, 27 October 2012

Birding in the UAE Part One - man it's hot!

It all began on Facebook, chatting with Chris, an old friend from way back in college at the poly in Oxford.

We got around to holidays and I said I had some time booked off from work in October and was going over to see my "olds" in Yorkshire for a week. Popping up the NE coast for a quick visit with Sean Ronayne in Northumberland, then back home to Ireland for the final week and maybe a few days on Cape Clear to finish off. I made some comment that the weather was probably going to be "inclement" for the entire period of my holiday.

A few seconds waiting for the chat box to fill with the reply - "Why don't you come and see us?"
OK I used poetic license there! It was more like I invited myself with a -
"Do you have room for a pale, fat b*st*rd in your pool?"
"I am sure we squeeze and extra one in" came the reply.

Time did that weird Star Trek style, sloooooow down and then speed up hiccupy type thing as my tardy grey matter caught up with what I was looking at in the chat window.

Little Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis)
Indian Silverbill or White-throated Munia (Lonchura malabarica)
"Do you have birds?" (doh what a retard! Course they have birds - flippin' fantastic birds as it happens!)
"We have green parrots and these funny crested red black things", ok my curiosty was definitely up and running now.

Why the hell don't I go to Dubai?  I WILL go to Dubai!

Now....where the feck is Dubai? How do I get there?

Oh crap I have to tell my Mum I'm not going to go and see them now! (Sorry Mum!)

Sean was a bit easier to inform of the change of plan - a quick message on FB - "Not coming to see you now, got a better offer - new birds in Dubai!" He's a birder, I knew he'd understand.

I thanked Chris for the "invite" and signed off FB with my thoughts racing.

So the 1st of October found me getting up early and heading to Dublin for my Emirates flight to Dubai - case packed mostly with Taytos for Chris's 4 boys!

I spent a large part of the flight pouring over "Birds of the United Arab Emirates" (Helm Field Guides) for the wealth of new species I would hopefully see.

A very late night arrival and the slowest passport processing on the planet meant we didn't get back to Chris's house until 02:00 in the morning. The guys were up early for work and school so I had the place to myself.
Laughing Dove (Spilopelia senegalensis)

I had already decided to take the first few days easy to get used to the heat. Stepping out from the air conditioned house into the garden was like being slapped in the face. Close to 40°C....ouch.
White-eared Bulbul  (Pycnonotus leucotis)
First bird I saw? - Little Green Bee-eater, stunningly wee birds and a favourite for me. Closely followed by Laughing Dove, Common Myna, White-eared Bulbul and Indian Silverbill.
All this in a garden I had been told, "had no birds". I spent a couple of hours, beer in hand (ok, a couple of beers) sitting in the back garden watching the world, and the birds, go by - bliss!

I get a text from Chris, who was at work;

"Any birds yet?"
"Five lifers :-)"
"Five lifers? Where?"
"In your garden"
"In my garden??????" your garden mate. Seek and ye shall find, and on that note I went to seek another beer.....

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