I was able to arrange a trip with a small group to conduct a Cetacean Survey around Boubyan and Warba Island (which are in a restricted area of the northern Arabian Gulf) and at the same time look for sea birds. As with all adventures, you can plan all the detail; but the weather is always the uncertain factor and today that was the case with very strong and blustery winds – not ideal for looking for Dolphins.
Nevertheless, the captain assured us the boat was built for these kinds of conditions, so we set off – first to the southern end of Boubyan where we were fortunate to have 2 sightings of Indo-pacific Humpback Dolphins (Sousa chinensis) – getting usable images from the rolling deck was a different challenge all together; added to the fact that it is almost impossible to predict where they may surface.
After these sightings we headed to the northern part of Boubyan Island getting views of a variety of Terns, Spoonbills, Crab-plovers, Grey and Western Reef Herons and Slender-billed Gulls – all of which breed on the island in summer. I noted that Barn Swallows seem unperturbed by the strong head wind and continued low over the sea on their way north. We had a quick stop on Warba Island where the wind was now really blowing and there were a few migrants present. At the jetty, a Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) passed by
I saw both Pied and Eastern Black-eared Wheatears and this female Western Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
There were some Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters roosting on the island – keeping low to stay out of the wind. An unexpected surprise was this White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) that came flying in very low and struggling against the wind
On the way back to base, we detoured through some of the northerly channels of Boubyan Island and found a 3rd group of Indo-pacific Humpback Dolphin(Sousa chinensis)
This pod was easier to track, as it had a mixed flock of Terns following their movements from above, so we had Swift Tern (Sterna bergii)
A few Lesser Crested Terns (Sterna bengalensis)
And a single Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) acting as lookouts for us. All in all 5 Tern species were seen, including a Little Tern that was too far for an image.
Once back at base, the tide was low and in the inter-tidal zone I was able to find (with the help of my friend Anand) and photograph the 3rd species of inter-tidal Mudskipper found in Kuwait – Slender Mudskipper (Scartelaos tenuis).
So, despite the blustery and bumpy conditions this was a pretty successful survey for all that participated.