Abu Dhabi ideal layover on migration routes
The emirate of Abu Dhabi offers a rich plethora of birding sanctuaries used every year by millions of birds, according to Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.
Visiting flocks hail from “as far away as Eastern Siberia and the Arctic and migrate to or through Abu Dhabi each year. During annual migrations, up to three million waterbirds visit the UAE, such a high turnover being linked to the rich productivity of the Gulf for food and its strategic location along two north–south migratory flyways”, the agency says.
“Known as the ‘Eastern Hotspot of the Western Palaearctic’, a large proportion of birds arrive from the Western Palaearctic using the West Asia–East Africa flyway, while others arrive via the Central Asian flyway. Over 180 Palaearctic species stop over in the emirate in the winter while en route to sub-Saharan Africa. The migration volume is more pronounced in the spring than in autumn, as several species migrate further west in the autumn [along the Red Sea and African Rift Valley], returning through the emirate in the spring during their northward journey.”
Statistics collected by the agency suggest that an “estimated 250,000 shorebirds are present at any given time from autumn to spring along the coast of the UAE, from Sila’a in the west to Fujairah in the east. The extensive mudflats and inter–tidal areas along the coastline provide food security to the majority of these wintering shorebirds”.
The islands off the coast of Abu Dhabi are also critical wintering and breeding sites, the agency said, noting that “75 per cent of the important wintering or breeding sites for nationally and internationally significant bird species within the UAE are found within Abu Dhabi emirate. Abu Dhabi hosts almost all the breeding osprey in the UAE and supports nearly 80 per cent of its population in the Arabian Gulf”.