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Bird-guiding in the UAE

As of November 2017 we are struggling with availability of birdguides, they are only available during the weekend (Friday & Saturday).



General rate is AED 133 pr hour (US $ 36). This includes the guide in a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Half day guiding, 6 hours: AED 800/- (1-3 persons, no additional cost if you are one, two or three persons in the car).

Full day guiding, 12 hours: AED 1.600/- (1-3 persons, no additional cost if you are one, two or three persons in the car).

Pick-up & drop-off in Dubai is normally at a central location, for example a hotel along Sheik Zayed Road, esp. if you are staying at an obscure hotel in the areas of Dubai with heavy traffic.

For further information, see Contact. Feel free to copy us all in; there is no competition here :-)

At the end of this page there is information regarding literature.



Dubai-based guides:

Mark Smiles

Mark has been a passionate birder for over 30 years and has travelled widely around the world, especially in Asia, reaching a total of 4,800 world species in 2014, the same year that he passed a tally of 375 in the UAE, making him one of the UAE’s most prolific twitchers ever. A member of the Emirates Bird Records Committee since 2011, he is the lead author of the annual UAE bird report.

Born in the north-east of England, he arrived as a passage migrant in the UAE in the summer of 2009, becoming resident in 2010 and has since birded his way round all 7 emirates, finding several national “firsts” along the way. From Wamm Farms in the east to Sila’a in the far west, his favourite places to look for birds, Mark is happy to go anywhere and do (almost) anything, in pursuit of birds.

Based in Dubai, he is available for guiding groups of up to 3 people on Fridays and Saturdays, providing he’s not travelling.... or twitching!



Mark eagle-watching off the coast of Hokkaido in 2014.
In the UAE he is often seen without the thick jacket


Stewart Kirkcaldy

Stewart has been birding for over 30 years. He worked in various conservation projects in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, UK, in the early 1980’s with the Forestry Commission. As a youth he used to assist with guided walks with the Countryside Ranger Service at a local Loch near his home town in Scotland; and in his early years sigthed an estimated 1,200 species from his travels. He has also spent time in Kruger National Park in South Africa. 
He was in Australia in the Capital Territory in 2015, and has visited various locations across the whole of the United Kingdom.

As a resident of the UAE since 2005, he is familiar with the local birding hotspots.
His UAE list is currently over 200 species since he began recording in 2015. Stewart is a keen photographer and is currently documenting the avifauna of the UAE and has an in depth knowledge of Canon equipment. He can accommodate up to three plus their equipment in his long wheelbase Mitsubishi Pajero. 

Stewart is available on weekends (Fridays and Saturdays) but may be available for a day midweek if enough advance notice is given, he will happily supply eBird checklists for specific areas to assist with clients achieving their wish list goals.



Stewart in his Friday casuals at Al Warsan Lakes, Dubai



East Coast based guides:

Jacky Judas

Jacky hails from the north of France, birding since the age of 12.
He says: 'mainly birding in France during my younger years, but then French Austral and Antarctic territories, where I have worked on Albatrosses and Penguins, in French Guiana for my PhD in tropical ecology, in Europe, Africa, central Asia, Madagascar, New Zealand, China, Nepal, Pakistan, and most of Arabia (Saudi Arabia, where I was resident for 5 years, Oman, Yemen) and quite regularly in Thailand, which is my favorite destination.
I have never managed to make a count of my life list, possibly around 3000'

Jacky has been a resident in the UAE since 2004.
His availability would be mainly during weekends (Fridays and Saturdays), but if required and adviced sufficiently in advance, week days might also be possible to arrange.

Jacky can guide on the East coast, including the following sites: Masafi Wadi, Wamm Farms, Dibba Port, Fujairah Port Beach, Khor Kalba, and the Hajar Mountains more generally.

Hopefully, he might include a visit to Wadi Wurayah in a near future. This is not an easy birding place, but might be interesting for a few species like Hooded Weathear, or Lichstenstein Sandgrouse in the evening, or even trying more for Omani Owl.

Jacky is also well versed in other topics than birds, including dragonflies, butterflies, reptiles, mountain flora, some notes on the geology, and general conservation in the UAE.

Jacky can also extend birding to Al Ain, to sites like Green Mubazzarah, Zakher Lake, Ayn al-Fayda, Jebel Hafit.



Jacky ringing a Common Kingfisher in Wadi Wurrayah



Abu Dhabi based guides:

No guides generally available as of winter 2017/18, but try Abu Dhabi-based Oscar Campbell or Simon Lloyd for the latest local info (see Contacts)

Al Ain based guides:

No guides generally available as of winter 2017/18, but try Al Ain-based Huw Roberts for the latest local info (see Contacts)



Professionally guided trips:

Mike Barth

Mike lived in the UAE from 2004 to early 2017, and now resides in the UK. He specialising in Bird Photography.

Mike has also spent time with his cameras in India, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Thailand, Mauritius, USA and Europe. Mike is also known for the many years he spent traveling the expanse of Russia photographing the now rare Soviet aircraft, published in many UK based Aviation magazines.

He knows all of the best birding spots, and can accomodate up to 4 birders.

Available for a minimum of 2 full days, all days of the week, but will need advance notice. More details here:



Mike during a recent photo-birding trip to Kerala





The three must-have birdbooks for the region are:

- Birds of the United Arab Emirates by Richard Porter and Simon Aspinall
Published in 2011, Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd.

- Birds of the Middle East 2nd edition by Richard Porter and Simon Aspinall.
Published in 2010, Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd.
This is also available as an app for your iPhone or iPad:

- Collins Bird Guide 2nd edition by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney, Dan Zetterstrom and Peter J Grant.
Published in 2010, Harper Collins
Also available in large format


An excellent offroad guide to the UAE is the UAE Off-Road
Publisher: Explorer Publishing
An offroad UAE website is found here