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 April 2021, Khor Kalba is open for visitors. Park your car and pay a small entrance fee at the bridge, then walk in.
Ramadan 2021: closed Monday and Friday.
It closed in March 2012, when the Sharjah Municipality closed access to Khor Kalba from the bridge onwards, to preserve this important natural site. This was 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.
If you want to stay here overnight, book a night at the newly opened Mysk Kingfisher Retreat / Kalba Kingfisher Lodge
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.
Khor Kalba is also the most reliable spot to see wintering Indian Pond Heron, up to 10 birds usually present from end August onwards. Look on the exposed mudflats at low tide.
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).
Kalba Collared Kingfisher on the bridge, April 2021
© Tommy Pedersen