Khor Kalba is justly famous for the breeding populations of Arabian Collared Kingfisher and Sykes's Warbler, and the wintering population of Indian Pond Herons. It is is one of the best birding sites on the East Coast, consisting of a tidal creek, mangroves and beach.
A great video made by Ahmed Al Ali can be seen here
As of March 2012 the Sharjah Municipality has closed access to Khor Kalba from the bridge onwards, to preserve this important natural site. This is a very welcome move, as the pressure from dune-bikers, quad-bikers, 4-wheel drives and jet-ski's was becoming unsustainable for this fragile habitat.
Sharjah Municipality has now made it a Nature Reserve, and in the interim there will be no access to visiting birders from the bridge onwards. The canal east from the bridge and Khor Kalba Harbour is still accessible. Hopefully access will be granted soon.
There is also no access along the western side of the khor; a new fence was erected in April 2012.
If you REALLY want to get access, book a night at the newly opened Kalba Kingfisher Lodge
Update from the Sharjah Municipality:
We have cleared the first appx. 4 meters of the bridge, so everyone can stand here with their telescopes and look inside for now. There will be a red line to show the limits. Security are aware of this. Please respect this at all times.
Hopefully this will be enough to see the Indian Pond Heron and Arabian Collared Kingfisher at low tide, feeding on the exposed mudflats.
Feedback from visiting birders welcome. Initial feedback from August 2014 (Peter Waanders) is that Syke's Warbler can be seen from the bridge area as well.
Recent reports, autumn 2019 is that access to the bridge can be tricky due construction work, but still worth a try.
Access to Kalba Plains (Lehhfaiiah Protected Area) via a visitor centre, the acacia plain is now fenced in. See map at bottom of the page.
This is the only place in the UAE the restricted-range Arabian Collared Kingfisher (ssp. kalbaensis) and Sykes's Warbler can be found. Since access is difficult/expensive, the only accessible place I have recorded both species is the mangroves immediately surrounding the bridge for the kingfisher, and the small mangrove area immediately to the north-west of the bridge (see bottom map below) for both species.
Khor Kalba is also the most reliable spot to see wintering Indian Pond Heron, up to 10 birds usually present from end August onwards. The exposed mudflats at low tide are no longer viewable, so alternate sites like Wamm Farms and Al Warsan Lakes need to be visited for the Pond Heron.
Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters often assemble over the mangroves at dusk prior to roosting from March to October. They nest here.
Do not miss out on Khor Kalba Harbour and the roost of gulls and terns here.
Park at 25.028371 , 56.366138 and with your telescope, check the sandbank at low tide here: 25.027768 , 56.366930
This is a classic site for Pallas's Gull in the winter, and the most reliable site for the rare Little Gull.
Driving back a little bit, park at 25.024963 , 56.364441 (which is the spot the Khor Kalba Pelagic trips start at), and check the gull and tern roosts on the other side of the khor.
For access to the acacia plain, enter via the Kalba Bird of Prey Centre at 25.000152 , 56.324005. The area between here and the main highway to Oman (at 25.007811,56.349693) can be good for Arabian Babbler (all year) and Yellow-throated Sparrow (late April to September), and Sylvia warblers during winter and migration. This area is called Kalba Plains--general area.
Khor Kalba (Alqurm Protected Area)
The old Khor Kalba Hotspot when access was open to all:
Khor Kalba (until March 2012)
248 species (excluding escapes) have been recorded as of January 2020 in the greater Khor Kalba and Kalba Plains area.
Rare birds have included:
- Sooty Shearwater
- Cory's Shearwater 3 km offshore - 4th UAE record
- Brown Booby
- Masked Booby
- Greater White-fronted Goose
- Sooty Falcon (26.06.1999 at the bridge at 19:20)
- Sociable Lapwing
- Small Pratincole (02.12.1995 in the harbour)
- Red-necked Stint on the beach (03.06.2004) - 5th UAE record
- Long-toed Stint
- White-eyed Gull (09.05.1994)
- Common Gull (several)
- Little Gull (several)
- Sabine's Gull (19.05.1995 at Kalba Corniche) - 2nd UAE record
- Black-legged Kittiwake (17.04.1998. & 27.03.2001)
- Black Tern (08.04.1993 & 29.-30.01.1994, both at Kalba Corniche, & 27.07.1998)
- Pied Kingfisher (06.12.1999 - 25.02.2000)
- Eversmann's Redstart (16.11.2005 in the mangroves).
Dairy Farm entrance