Sunday, 15 January 2012

Birding along the East Coast

I know its the weekend, because it is 3.15 am & I am up & about, getting ready for my little early morning drive! I am currently having serious doubts about that second (or was it third), vodka-martini, which seemed such a good idea at the time!
The drive to Dibba & the Fujairah National Dairy Farm, is a long one, it takes just under three hours. In the old days, it took four & half hours, so, I think I should be thankful, for small mercies!
I arrive in the dark, I drive around looking for nightbirds, but strangely nothing at all! (I am not doing very well, with nightbirds this week). As dawn breaks, I start seeing my first birds & notable amongst them, is a lovely Crested Honey Buzzard perched atop a nearby post, preening. Mike, Simon & Josh appear and we start to cover the entire area.

Mike, ready for action!
He looks suprised, because
 he thinks you can't see him!

 I pick up a Hen Harrier flying towards us and alert the others. All eventually get good, if distant views. 6 Pin-tailed Snipe and a European Stonechat were also notable finds. Over 60+ species were recorded during the morning.

Hen Harrier, showing diagnostic underwing
 & underpart colouration.  

Count the primaries! Look at the large white rump.

A quick look at Fujairah Port Beach recorded the normal gulls & terns, but nothing special.

A typical mixture of small Gulls & Terns on FPB.

Josh & I slunk off to the mangroves at Kalba, and were rewarded with a Sykes's Warbler. Always a difficult bird to see.
Everyone then assembled for the 2pm pelagic. The weather was near perfect. We decided to keep inshore, as there had been a Somali Pirate incident, the previous week, not too far from where we were going!

Simon & Josh, pretending to wear life-jackets!

Ahmed, sporting his new look beard!

A very confiding Arctic Skua, kept the photographers happy.

Arctic Skua

And soon after, remarkable numbers of Red-necked Phalaropes were dotted about everywhere. I estimated at least 1,600 birds, which is the most I have ever seen here in the UAE.

Red-necked Phalaropes
Photo courtesy of Ahmed Ali.

 Over 300 Persian Shearwaters were also found, 230 feeding together at one location.

Persian Shearwater
However, we kept the best until last. Josh spotting a pod of dolphins which turned out to be Common Spinner Dolphins. A remarkable group of around 45 animals, which at first were hunting tuna & then treated us to some characteristic spinning antics, which had everyone gasping! Ahmed & Mike managed to get some rather decent shots. Mine were hopeless!

Common Spinner Dolphin
Photo courtesy of Ahmed Ali.

A very pleasant afternoon out, a big thanks to Abdullah once again.

21 species added (179 total): 730 kms travelled.

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