30 September 2013

Brown Noddy & Sooty Falcon - Farasan Offshore Islands

On one day we hired a boat from just south of the Farasan Coral Resort. We left at 06:00 hrs and kept the boat for five hours. The boats cost 150-200 SAR per hour which it may be possible to get for a cheaper rate as we were short of time and had no car so did not try to negotiate too hard although the original price was 250 SAR per hour. We started by looking for dolphins but failed to see any and then went to a rocky island to look for a few birds and found my two target species quite quickly, a Brown Noddy and a Sooty Falcon. I only saw one Brown Noddy but it was perched in full view on a rocky island, although taking photographs of it was not easy as it was almost directly into the sun.
Brown Noddy
Brown Noddy
 We also saw Pink-backed Pelican, Striated Herons, Brown Boobys, Lesser Crested Terns, Little Terns, Common Redshanks, Common Sandpipers and Sooty Gulls. We found a big feeding flock of terns but nothing unusual appeared to be in with them. After spending some time looking at the fish and collecting shells with the family, where I saw a Greater Hoopoe Lark, we returned to try to find the dolphins. Luckily I found a huge group, with a minimum of fifty animals, on the way back.
Brown Booby
Pink-backed Pelican
Sooty Gull
A very tired Whinchat landed on the boat but was so close I could hardly photograph it. The boat driver caught the bird by hand but we made him release it. It stayed on the boat for some time before flying off to a close by island. This was a real reminder of how difficult it is for small birds to migrate long distances and how tired they get in the process.
Offshore Island - Farasan Islands