Wamm Farms - return to East Coast
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A very important migration and wintering spot, with restricted access.
The Wamm Farms area is one of the key birding sites in the UAE, consisting of the Fujairah National Dairy Farm, the old Goat farm (no longer active) and surrounding gravel plains.
All access is by foot only, park your car at one of the gates and walk in.
From October 2010 onwards, access to the National Dairy Farm is restricted, see the procedures in red below. You must bring a copy of your passport (no passport needed) and enter via the Dairy Farm main gate only (NOT via the side-gate leading to the mosque). Knock on the door of the small office to your left to present your passport copy, but I have found this door locked on most occasions. If this is the case, proceed on foot and carry your passport copy with you, one of the workers will eventually approach you for the document. Do not point your optics (telescope and large lenses) towards the Oman border fence at any time. You might get detained and your optics confiscated.
Directions and access:
Directions from Dubai:
Take the E44 towards Hatta and Oman (see the directions for Dubai Pivot Fields on how to get out of Dubai), passing Dubai Pivot Fields on your right, pass one roundabout, after 4 km. take the exit right onto E611 signposted towards Al Sharjah and Al Dhaid. It is 45 km to Al Dhaid from here. After 18 km, exit right (signposted to Al Dhaid, Al Fujairah, Khor Fakkan). In Al Dhaid you are passing through 2 roundabouts, take left in the first one (signposted Fujairah, Masafi) then after 600 m at the next roundabout you exit to the right (signposted Fujairah, Masafi) on road E89. It is 30,5 km to Masafi from here.
In Masafi you will find another roundabout, exit left (signposted Dibba, Dadna, Al Aqqa). Drive 36,5 km, past Masafi Wadi through mountaneous terrain and you will eventually arrive at an unmarked roundabout at 25.58787,56.269597. Take this to the left, Dibba Park is on your right (can be good for birds September to May) pass straight through the roundabout with a giant Oil Lamp / Coffee Pot, then another 200 m. until you arrive at a T-junction. Take right in the T-junction, pass 2 speed-bumps and turn left 100 m after the last speedbump (small sign saying "Fruit Research Station). You are now entering an area called Wam (white sign). You will be passing Dibba slaughterhouse to your left, then the Goat Farm on your left with a road going 45 degrees off the main road following the fence.
A few hundred meters further along the main road is the green gate on your right signposted "Dibba Milk, Fujairah National Dairy Farm". The entrance to the Goat Farm is opposite.
Update November 2017; Please note that ALL visitors to this extremely sensitive site are required to report to either the gatehouse or administration office on arrival and either leave a copy of their ID card/passport, and to sign out when leaving the site. This arrangement is the result of an agreement between the farm management and the border police.
Visitors should also exercise caution when birding near the border fence and avoid pointing cameras & telescopes towards the border, and should not take pictures of the fence or any other border installations.
Failure to observe these rules may lead to loss of access to the site for birders, seizure of equipment or, possibly, arrest.
Arriving at dawn:
Great to fantastic birding can be had along the main paved road leading up to the Dairy Farm entrance. Carefully check all birds on the fences on both sides, as well as in the bordering trees. This is a favoured area for shrikes of a variety of species. An hour can be used here on foot.
The Goat Farm
The Goat farm can possible watched from inside the fence, and has held some very nice vagrants the last few years, like Oriental Pratincole, Pied Stonechat and Taiga Flycatcher.
This site has been sold, and will probably be developed. It appears to be completely dry. The fence along the road is still worth checking.
Birding rom the outside along the Goat Farm access road: small flocks of Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse can often be heard flying across this field just after sunset. Good positions to set up the scope are around the elevated gravel-mounds along the fence perimeters at 25.597712,56.241072.
The Goat Farm was a favoured site for Black-winged Pratincole and Pied Stonechat.
The gravel plains (site 3) is good for wintering Variable Wheatear and Egyptian Nightjars after sunset. A Sykes's Nightjar wintered here 2008/2009.
Fujairah National Dairy Farm:
The 'classic' birding locality and not to be missed. You can easily use 3-6 hours here on foot. Driving not allowed.
Once inside the Dairy Farm (site 1 on the map below), walk past the 'admin office', sign in and surrender a passport copy if the office is open, then turn right at the cow pens. They are full of flies, and between October and March you will find various wagtail species here. The most common is White Wagtail, and usually a few Masked Wagtail (the very striking personata subspecies of White Wagtail) winter here. Scan in between the cows inside the pens. Yellow Wagtail of several races occur, as well as Grey Wagtail and Citrine Wagtail. Eastern Cattle Egret, Pectoral Sandpiper, White-throated Kingfisher and Pied Stonechat have all been recorded here.
The fields themsewlves attract a large number of Indian Rollers, as well as European Rollers, and three species of bee-eaters are often seen (Green, Blue-cheeked and European), Water Pipit (common), Tawny Pipit (common), Richard's Pipit (fairly common), Long-billed Pipit (fairly common October to April), Blyth's Pipit (scarce but regular in winter), Meadow Pipit (very uncommon) and Tree Pipit (fairly common) are often seen, as well as Eurasian Skylark (common), Bimaculated Lark & Oriental Skylark (both scarce but regular), Greater Short-toed (common) and Lesser Short-toed Lark (uncommon), various wheatear species and Rose-coloured Starling. Do not point your optical gear towards the western fence; the Army Border Police is watcing you!
Sometimes recorded on the stony fields are Trumpeter Finches and more regular Namaqua Dove (the extreme northwestern corner is a favourite for this tiny dove, but beware the Border Patrol issue) and Striolated Bunting.
Raptors are often present, with Western Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Great Spotted Eagle, Crested Honey Buzzard, Bonelli's Eagle, rarely Booted Eagle, Common Kestrel and Lesser Kestrel regularly recorded, as well as Barbary Falcon.
281 species (excluding escapes) have been recorded as of January 2020.
Rarities have included
- Eurasian Bittern
- Black-winged Kite (might breed in 2019/20)
- Lappet-faced Vulture
- Northern Goshawk
- Amur Falcon
- Red-footed Falcon (2 birds October 2006 - a UAE first!)
- White-breasted Waterhen
- Little Crake
- Macqueen's Bustard
- Little Bustard (a UAE first!)
- Eurasian Dotterel
- Great Snipe
- Oriental Turtle Dove (might be regular)
- Asian Koel
- Sykes's Nightjar (20.-21.12.2007 at site 3; gravel plain)
- Little Swift
- Calandra Lark
- Buff-bellied Pipit
- Savi's Warbler
- Paddyfield Warbler
- Dusky Warbler (28.10.-04.11.2005)
- Pied Stonechat
- Bay-backed Shrike
- Long-tailed Shrike
- European Goldfinch
- Little Bunting (13.-16.01.1999)
- Red-headed Bunting
Dairy Farm entrance