Saturday, 30 June 2012

A splash of summer madness!

Yes, it has been a long time since my last blog. However, there is a reason for this! I was away for nearly four weeks, on a journey that takes one across the roof of the world. A great trip, see forthcoming blogs.

It is Thursday and it has been a long week, since I touched down on Abu Dhabi soil from Chengdu. I can get off work early today, so I am hammering over to the east coast. I arrive to meet up with Khalifa & Abdullah and we are off on my first ever fishing trip! We go quickly out to sea, to an old ammunition dumping ground, that Abdullah reckons will have fish and therefore birds!

The fishing route is marked in red.
 Previous important records also marked.

Luckily, the explosives are
six hundred metres below!

Both maps courtesy of Khalifah.

We see nothing at all on the ride out. Scanning the horizon produces our first flocks of Bridled Terns and they are fishing!
Bridled Tern

We motor over and see tuna churning the surface. For the next five hours we go from one shoal of tuna to another, always with hungry birds in attendance.

Plenty of small fishing boats from both Oman
 & the UAE were catching lots of tuna.

When Tuna are feeding the water is in turmoil!

Tuna fishing Arabic style seems to have no rules, it is a glorious mayhem of dashing boats, pushing their way in, to gain the best spot. We start to catch fish, the lines with wicked hooks fly over quick and fast. Definitely one eye on the sea and the other on where those hooks are going!

Around 150+ Persian Sherwaters were noted.
We log around 800 Bridled Terns and scattered around in small groups are Persian Shearwaters, probably around 150, all told.

Flesh-footed Shearwater

A dark, black shape wheels around, our first Flesh-footed Shearwater. They were to be our intemittant companions for the rest of the day. At least 12 noted, but could have been many more. It is difficult to count birds when you are fishing, too much to keep an eye on, happening elsewhere!

I spot 2 Fleshies sailing by, with a slightly smaller, thinner winged bird, bringing up the rear. I shout to Khalifah, Wedge-tailed Shearwater! He sees it going away, as it doesn’t linger.

Heavily cropped and not sharp.
However, it does show the shape and flight quite well.

Wedge-tailed Shearwater
You can see several good features here:
 the size, colour & shape of the bill;
the wing & tail shape and the pale secondary bar,
which is a good pointer for this species.

 At least 6 Wilson’s Storm Petrels flutter over the waves, my first of the year.

The catch!
Tuna photos courtesy of Khalifa.
The fishing was productive, as was the birding. It was a lot of fun! We motor back in the dark and dock at 8.45pm. I have a long lonely drive ahead of me!

Three year ticks, get my big year, back on track!

3 species added (293 species in total): 550 kms travelled by car & 130 kms by boat!

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