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Watch: Dubai’s Al Qudra Lake welcomes rare feathered visitor – News

common cuckoo. Photos: Dr. Reza Khan

Published: Monday, November 13, 2023, 16:28

An elusive tropical bird flew thousands of kilometers from its home, making a rare stop at Dubai’s Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve, also known as Al Qudra Lake, last week. A visit from the not-so-common common cuckoo added a feathered touch to the popular unfenced reserve, now bustling with hundreds of species of migratory birds as winter arrives.

Veteran local wildlife expert Dr Reza Khan, 77, said this is the first time he has seen a cuckoo in three decades. “On Friday I was at the reserve birdwatching in the pivot fields accompanied by a young birdwatcher when it flew past us. I instantly recognized it as the common cuckoo. Shortly after, it appeared 50 meters away from us and we followed it with “My car and I saw him hunting caterpillars from a Ghaf tree. I was excited because my last sighting of a common or Eurasian cuckoo was in Dubai’s Safa Park in the early 1990s,” he recalled.

Despite their strange links to the 17th century cuckoo clock, these birds do not bring melodious serenades to the country, but rather remain silent. Khan explained: “Unfortunately, we do not hear the sweet melody of the cuckoo in the UAE, as the singing is typically associated with the breeding season (used to create pair bonds, attract mates and maintain contacts with mates), all which won’t happen here. While some bird species incorporate calls into their daily routine, particularly passerines or songbirds, cuckoos and koels are not known to vocalize during non-breeding seasons. As a result, those who pass by The UAE is remarkably calm,” said Dr Khan.

common cuckoo

common cuckoo

According to UAEBIRDING, a website dedicated to bird watching, the United Arab Emirates is home to only five species of cuckoo, and none of them are resident. “Their presence ranges from uncommon to very rare or vagrant, making each sighting a noteworthy event,” said Khan, who is also the lead wildlife specialist at the Township’s Department of Public Parks and Recreational Facilities. from Dubai.

“The common cuckoo is a widespread summer migrant to Europe and parts of Asia where it breeds. It winters in parts of Asia and mainly Africa. Some of them make their way through the United Arab Emirates and are sighted by observers of birds like me,” he added.

water lane

water lane

Two other rare migratory waterbirds spotted by Dr Khan are the water-towhee and the spotted chickadee. Rallus Aquaticus is a rare or very uncommon winter visitor and migrant, present from August to May. Meanwhile, the spotted chickadee (Porzana porzana) is a rare winter visitor and migrant, typically seen from September to May.

Migratory spotted eagle: reddish form

Migratory spotted eagle: reddish form

greater spotted eagle

greater spotted eagle

Eastern imperial eagle

Eastern imperial eagle

In addition to rare migrants, Pivot Field and the entire Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Area host numerous winter migrants, including the spotted eagle, eastern imperial eagle, Bonelli’s eagle, black kite, three species of harriers, the common kestrel, and the rare winter migratory European roller, which may become common in autumn/spring.

Migratory Common Kestrel

Migratory Common Kestrel

Other aquatic and wetland birds include hundreds of ducks, cormorants, herons, egrets, ibises, snipes, sandpipers, stints, ruffs, plovers, etc., all classified as non-passerines. “The passerines included three species of sandpipers, two species of stonechats, three or four species of shrikes, pipits, orioles, buntings and more,” he said.

Female migratory black redstart

Female migratory black redstart

The United Arab Emirates welcomes almost two million migratory birds a year, according to the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency (EAD). In the early 1990s, the UAE’s bird list included 300 species. Thanks to the country’s environmental initiatives, that number has increased to 468. More than 60 percent or 3 in 5 of these birds are migratory.

Dr Khan attributes the rise to the UAE rulers’ visionary policies and management protocols that have transformed desert landscapes into winter bird havens. He said the country is expected to remain home to thousands of migratory birds from November to March.” They are attracted to artificial lakes, forests, pivotal fields, rice paddies, orchards and green verges or lawns, all of which provide a wealth of insects and worms when some local plants flower in winter. “This ensures that migratory birds find a suitable residence with plenty of food, water and quiet shelter.”



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