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  • Writer's picturePeter Howarth

Bird Watching in Dubai?

Updated: May 8, 2020

When you think of the sprawling metropolis that is Dubai the last thing you think about is wildlife. And yet nestled near the heart of the city is Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary. A 6.2 square km wetland that is home to over 400 species of plant and animal, including over 150 species of resident and migratory birds. While driving past one day we decided an early morning visit would be worthwhile. So the next day we got up early and set off.

Upon arrival at the first hide we were greeted by the sound of nearby construction, it seemed some repair work was taking place next to the hide. This didn't seem to frighten the birds at first, with multiple species of Heron, Egret and Flamingo being easily spotted from the hide. Sadly due to the noise most birds weren't very close to the hide and after 20 minutes of sitting and watching we decided to try our luck at the second hide further along the reserve.

D7500 Sigma 150-600c, 1/1000 sec at f/6.3, ISO 360

The second hide was blissfully quiet. Sitting down it became obvious why it was named the 'Flamingo Hide', they were everywhere. After the initial excitement of being so close to wild flamingos, it quickly became clear photographing these birds would be a challenge. They stand very close to each other making the clean portrait shots I was looking for seemingly impossible. Thankfully after a short while certain subjects became isolated from the group allowing for some brilliant photo opportunities. As time went on and the sun rose and the light became harsher and harsher until the muds surface shone a brilliant white, making photograph very difficult indeed. It was this change in light that pushed us on to the third and final hide.

D7500 Sigma 150-600c, 1/3200 sec at f/6.3, ISO 500

Located even further round the reserve the third hide looked over the lagoon and straight into the sun. While photography would be difficult, bird watching is about more than taking pretty pictures. Being able to immerse yourself in nature and watch the interactions of animals is what it is really all about. And so we sat and watched Eagles and Terns flying in the distance before our stomachs eventually forced us to find some breakfast.

D7500 Sigma 150-600c, 1/1000 sec at f/6.3, ISO 250

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