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.
In October 2014 they closed off the northern half of the park to give way to the new canal project. The two lakes are now drained. Despite this destruction, a Forest Wagtail was seen end-October 2014 and the wintering Masked Shrike is back. Rarities like Asian Koel, European Robin, European Siskin and Brambling recorded winter/spring 2015, so the park is still worth a visit.
Directions and access:
Safa Park is easily located along Al Wasl Road, and is open every day from 08:00 - 22:00, with no Ladies Day or Family Day restrictions.
Entrance fee is AED 3/-
If you drive yourself, from E-11, take the exit and follow the brown Safa Park sign. The only entrance to the park is Gate 2, and you can park under the overpass here 25.188647 , 55.241339. The parking is paid for, and you can pay with 1-dirham coins or via SMS if you have a local number.
If you come by taxi, this gate is known by all.
To cover the area thoroughly, plan to spend 1-2 hours here.
The best approach is to make 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 explore the rest of the park.
226 species (excluding escapes) have been recorded as of December 2018.
Introduced birds are common, including Shikra, Alexandrine Parakeet (fairly common), Rose-ringed Parakeet (abundant), Plum-headed Parakeet (uncommon), Pied Myna and rarely Brahminy Starling.
Ortolan Buntings are regular in spring on the grassy areas, and Masked Shrike most winters.
Rarities have included:
- Ruddy Shelduck
- Black-winged Kite (April 2017)
- Eleonora's Falcon (22.04.2004) - a UAE first, and still the only record.
- White-breasted Waterhen
- Eurasian Woodcock
- Mediterranean Gull
- Common Wood Pigeon
- Asian Koel (Jan 2015)
- Pied Kingfisher
- Black-throated Thrush
- Dusky Thrush
- Blyth's Reed Warbler
- Dusky Warbler
- Yellow-browed Warbler
- Hume's Leaf Warbler
- Green Warbler (April 2018)
- 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
- Common Linnet (April 2017)
Safa Park today (above)
Safa Park before 2014 (below)