16 Jul 2012

Tern Ringing – Al Jarrim Island (South)

A 02:45 hrs start from Saudi Arabia for a day’s ringing on Al Jarrim Island meant we were able to board Ali’s boat just after 04:00 hrs for the one hour journey to the islands. You need Coast Guard permission to go to the islands so after calling into the Coast Guard boat and getting permission we set off and arrived at 05:00 hrs on the island. This is ideal timing as it is just getting light and the temperatures are significantly down (32 Degrees Celsius compared to 42 Degrees Celsius at 12:00 hrs). Ali’s boat is a very fast fishing boat with two 200 HP two stroke engines so although thirsty on fuel is quick. The aim of the day was to ring Bridled Tern Chicks and then when it got a little warmer round up some Lesser Crested Tern Chicks and ring them.
Bridled Tern
Bridled Tern
Bridled Tern
Bridled Tern
 It proved very successful as although we only had three ringers, Brendan, Nicole and I, we had three helpers in Ali, Hussain and Ahmad (two nephews of Ali). As a result when we went looking for Bridled Tern chicks we had a helper each, Ali with Nicole, Hussain with Brendan & Ahmed with me. This was very advantageous as the birds hide under the low vegetation having a preference for the thickest and thorniest bushes. We managed to ring 278 Bridled tern chicks which are about half the total on the island as we estimate there are 600 pairs breeding. Most have a single chick although a few have two and some fail to raise any young. The last few pairs are still sitting on eggs but some of the terns were large enough to start flying in the next couple of days. We left the islands at 12:30 hrs when the temperature had risen after a very enjoyable but tiring day in the field.
Lesser Crested Tern chick roundup
Lesser Crested Tern (juvenile)
Lesser Crested Tern (adult)
 At the end we ringed about 978 birds, with 278 Bridled Tern chicks and 700 Lesser Crested Tern chicks and I ringed 100 Bridled Terns and 264 Lesser Crested Terns. The way we catch the birds has evolved over the last couple of years and we are now much more proficient and catching and ringing them. The early start also helps as we do not get too hot and this weekend the birds were at a very good stage for ringing so we will try this weekend next year. The only issue with this being that it will be in Ramadan and although Ali said he will still, he will not be able to help so much due to the restriction on eating and drinking in daylight hours that occurs during the Holy month.

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