Qarn Nazwa - return to Central Region

Qarn Nazwa is a solitary limestone outcrop with surrounding gravel plains and sandy desert along the Dubai to Hatta Road. Since 2012 the site is suffering from increased activity and extreme amounts of thrash from pick-nick'ing visitors, as well as some construction debris.
In 2014 a few new houses and shops have been built here, and more thrash than ever is spread around.

 

Directions and access:

Distance from Dubai is 50 km (40 minutes drive).

 

Birding strategy:

To cover the area thoroughly, plan to spend 1-2 hours on foot.

These three limestone outcrops in the middle of the desert is an important bird site and good for migrants and winter visitors. Qarn Nazwa is the star site for Pharaoh Eagle Owl (= Desert Eagle Owl). Best at dawn and dusk; the owl calls at sunset and often perches prominently on the rocky skyline of the largest, westernmost outcrop. This largest outcrop is fenced in, and belong to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
You can climb the smaller, eastern outcrop, but beware of Saw-scaled Vipers and scorpions at dusk and night.
The best season to see the owls seems to be from November to March, but they are recorded all year.
You can view the skyline both from the western road going to Margham, from the 'park here' red arrow in the map below, or from the eastern side between the two outcrops. It is impossible to predict which side is best.
Walk the whole area, climb the outcrops and explore the gravel plain.

 

Qarn Nazwa is a regular wintering site from September to February of Variable Wheatear (=Eastern Pied Wheatear) which is often found sitting in the small bushes on the gravel plain at 24.991292 , 55.663982.

Explore the rocky slopes of the eastern outcrop and surrounding narrow acacia plain looking for resident Brown-necked Raven, Hume's Wheatear, Pale Crag Martin, Great Grey Shrike (Arabian) and Indian Silverbill. They are joined in winter by Red-tailed Wheatear, Lesser Whitethroat, Asian Desert Warbler and occasionally Plain Leaf Warbler. More elusive is the Long-billed Pipit.

Regular migrants include Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Eastern Black Redstart, Pied Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Upcher's Warbler, Menetries's Warbler, Daurian and Turkestan Shrikes and with luck; Pale Rockfinch. The latter most often overflying flocks identifiable only by their Bee-eater like 'prrrping' calls. Uncommon migrants include Eurasian Crag Martin and White-throated Robin.

 

Birds:

82 species (excluding escapes) have been recorded as of December 2018.

Rarities have included Lappet-faced Vulture, Alpine Swift, Little Swift, White-crowned Wheatear and Mourning Wheatear.

If you arrive early, you could explore the Lahbab desert and Qarn Nazwa--north road. Both are under-watched sites.

Waiting for the Pharaoh Eagle-owl to appear

© 2018 Tommy Pedersen
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