Safa Park - 25.185569N , 55.246845E
Safa Park was one of the main migration hotspots in Dubai.
The park is now a shadow of its pre-1990 former self, when it was one of the few wooded areas in Dubai and the best site in the country for passerine migrants.
Update October 2014; the northern half of the park is closed off and watering of the grass has stopped. It will give way to the new canal project with massive construction underway. The two lakes are about to disappear.
Even with this massive destruction, a Forest Wagtail was seen end-October and the wintering Masked Shrike is back. Rarities like Asian Koel, European Robin, European Siskin and Brambling still recorded winter/spring 2015, so possibly still worth a visit.
This is how the park will look like in 2016: click on Forum post
Directions and access:
Safa Park is easily located along Al Wasl Road, with the main entrance opposite of HSBC Bank. This entrance should remain open during the 2014-2016 construction project (see above).
Safa park is open every day from 08:00 - 22:00, with no Ladies Day or Family Day restrictions. Entrance fee is AED 3/-
Note: not all entrances are open at all times; the Al Wasl entrance seems to be the safest bet.
To cover the area thouroughly, plan to spend 2-4 hours here.
The best approach seems to be to arrive around 8am at the western gate along Al Wasl Road, walk along the northern grassland and trees (sadly closed off since Oct 2014), making your way to the northern part of the 'forest' (25.184835 , 55.246355). Slowly comb this part of the forest for pipits, wagtails, warblers and flycatchers, then circle the fence of the 'bird sanctuary' pond (25.185017 , 55.249381) , check the trees edging the grass to the east of the ponds (25.184260 , 55.250393) for wintering Masked Shrike, work your way slowly back through the southern part of the forest, then back towards Al Wasl Road.
219 species (excluding escapes) have been recorded as of March 2015.
Introduced birds are common, including Shikra, Alexandrine Parakeet (fairly common), Rose-ringed Parakeet (abundant), Plum-headed Parakeet (uncommon), Blossom-headed Parakeet (status unclear), Pied Myna and rarely Brahminy Starling.
Ortolan Buntings are regular in spring on the grassy areas, and Masked Shrike winters most years east of the fenced-in ponds.
Click here for a short Safa Park story from Charlie Moores in 2005.
Rarities have included:
- Greater White-fronted Goose
- Ruddy Shelduck
- Eleonora's Falcon (22.04.2004) - a UAE first!
- White-breasted Waterhen
- Eurasian Woodcock
- Mediterranean Gull
- Common Wood Pigeon
- Asian Koel
- Pied Kingfisher
- Black-throated Thrush
- Dusky Thrush
- Blyth's Reed Warbler
- Dusky Warbler
- Yellow-browed Warbler
- Hume's Leaf Warbler
- Red-flanked Bluetail (07.12.2008 - 12.03.2009) - a UAE first and first for Arabia!
- Eurasian Tree Sparrow
- Forest Wagtail (the only place outside Abu Dhabi this species is recorded with some regularity, as late as Oct 2014)
- Olive-backed Pipit
Map of proposed new canal through the northern part of Safa Park. Brown cross depicts closed area.