co-authored with Ahmed Al Ali - return to Central Region
Good all year round, with winter seeing the highest counts and species diversity.
This area has seen a lot of development prior to the establishment of the protected area and the UAE declaring it as its seventh 'Wetlands of International Importance and becoming Ramsar Site 2309.
It has changed from a quiet inlet to a bustling area with new construction, a large golf club, with a restaurant, a casual café and nearby parks. Since the establishment as a Protected Area, the development seems to be confined to the northern edges, keeping the rest of the area protected.
Directions, access and birding strategy:
Al-Zora Protected Area
From the E-11 driving north toward Ra's al-Khaimah, at the intersecting roundabout with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum road at position 25.434389 , 55.504268, make a u-turn. Enter the parking area on your right after 1.2 km. Park at the Al Zorah Golf Club parking at coordinates 25.425256 , 55.497294 or along the villa road adjacent to the golf club.
From E-311, take the exit at position 25.426037 , 55.592880, and follow Jiddah Street to E-11. You will have to turn north on E-11, and make a U-turn after 1.3 km at the Al Hamriyah E-11 overpass (in itself a Hotspot).
With a telescope, view the mudflats and mangroves below you. Plan to spend some time here.The nearby club house has a great little coffee shop / restaurant called Shakespeare & Co, that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant deck allows amazing views of the protected area, where you can watch Clamorous Reed Warblers and Graceful Prinia up close.
However, this is not the optimal spot for viewing the protected area. The parking area mentioned earlier is higher in altitude without the thick mangroves shielding the views.
There is a boardwalk from here to the golf course, passing over the mudflats, but you have to register and enter as a golf player to access it. The management is thinking of renting golf carts for birdwatching in future.
Al-Zora Nursery is the place to start if you plan on a full visit to the area. Assuming you are arriving from the north, take a right at the intersection at 25.444924 , 55.507850 and continue 1.4 km. The nursery is on your left.
Park outside and walk in.
Al-Zora shoreline is next. Drive down to the beach and check for gulls, terns and shorebirds.
Al Zorah Golf Course; after you leave the beach, you drive back towards E11 with the golf course on your right and stop along the road where possible to scan the grass and ponds. A good spot to stop at is at 25.431535 , 55.487212; look west to check the lake as well as the mangrove creek straight ahead..
Then drive to the Golf Club entrance from E11 (see above) and park.
Al Safiya Park is brand new and might make a nice stop.
226 species (excluding escapes) have been recorded as of December 2018.
Or read a newspaper article about it here
A total of 135 species recorded as of December 2018.