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Ornithology in the UAE

The Natural Environment
Nature Tour of the UAE
Wildlife in the UAE
Key animals
Captive breeding of rare breeds
Whales and dolphins in the UAE
Scorpions and snakes
Environmental agencies
Fossil hunting

At any one time during migration periods (July–November and April–May) probably in excess of 250,000 waders are present on intertidal areas of the country's Gulf coast. Taking into account the likely turnover of shorebirds on this Eurasian/West Asian–Arabian Gulf–African flyway, the mudflats of the southern Gulf probably support several million individuals over the course of a year. The current UAE population of Socotra cormorants is around 200,000, which is about 15-33 per cent of the estimated total world population. Individual sites are regionally important for wader species, namely Abu al-Abyadh for its crab plover (Dromas ardeola) colony and migratory populations of lesser sand plover (Charadrius mongolus), Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) and grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola), Khor Dubai for its high densities of Kentish plover, greater sand plover (Charadrius leschenaultii), lesser sand plover and broad-billed sandpiper (Limicola falcinellus) and Khor al-Beidah for its large wintering population of crab plover and parties of up to 90 wintering great knot (Calidris tenuirostris). The summer population of crab plover is estimated at over 1200 shared between Abu al-Abyadh and another colony on the island of Umm Amim, while the largest wintering population of over 500 birds is at Khor al-Beidah.

Several islands hold important seabird populations and all are (or were) important in some way. Siniyah, Yasat and Ghaghah Islands hold large Socotra cormorant populations; Qarnayn Island alone has breeding red-billed tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus), sooty gull and several tern species and other islands in the south-west hold exceptional numbers of white-cheeked, lesser crested (Sterna bengalensis) and bridled tern (Sterna anaethetus). The UAE holds the Gulf's largest breeding population of sooty falcon (Falco concolor), a strongly migratory species the bulk of which winters in Madagascar. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) has practically disappeared from its former mainland nest sites, now confined almost exclusively to islands, where its numbers appear healthy.

In the Hajar Mountains Hume's wheatear and yellow-vented bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthopygos) are common residents, with eastern pied wheatear (Oenanthe picata), red-tailed wheatear (Oenanthe xanthoprymna) and plain leaf warbler widely distributed in winter. The mangrove-lined creek at Khor Kalba holds the country's only population of white-collared kingfisher (Halcyon chloris), of the endemic subspecies (kalbaensis). This subspecies is endangered. Also here is the country's only breeding site of booted warbler (Hippolais caligata), and regular wintering site of Indian pond heron (Ardeola grayii) .

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