Indeed the highlight of this session was when some fishermen brought their catch ashore and 50 or so terns were attracted.
Most of the terns spent much of their time in the air looking for spilt catch. However there were always a few on the beach at any given moment.
A majority but by no means all were common tern.
Some were much more difficult to identify. Thanks to Oscar Campbell in UAE the one below has been identifed as a common tern and probaly a second calender year bird which is already quite bleached.
Some of the other terns in small numbers were as easy to identify as the whiskered tern. They were sandwich tern, lesser crested tern and great crested tern.
white-cheeked tern (l) and 3 common tern (r)
Oscar Campbell has commented that it probably is a white-cheeked tern however it should be in breeding plumage "(unlike all White-cheeks in the Gulf, where birds are at nesting islands from late March) and the structure does not look especially different from the background Commons - in direct comparison, the bill of White-cheeked often looks very slender and narrow which is not the impression I am getting from this bird. It does look a little small but that might be an artifact of the image".
I would add that the legs do appear a little shorter than the other birds.
In the above picture the dark bird appears again.
Despite my concentration so far on the birds on the ground, most birds spent most time in the air.
Above is a common tern in flight.
Saunders's tern with common tern
There were also single birds of two other species: Saunders's tern and roseate tern. The latter is the rarest tern in the region at this time of year. I think Andrew Bailey for identifying it as a Bangsi type which has an orange-red bill. It wasn't present for as long as the other terns and I failed to get a photograph.
There were a few other birds on the beach. A few slender-billed gull were among them.
Three sanderling were running along the sandy beach.
The terns were not the only birds to be attracted to the fish catch. Slowly but surely a group of socotra cormorant which were swimming drifted closer and closer to the shore. In the end they were less than 5 metres from the fisherman's boat.
more socotra cormorant
Straight after we left the beach we headed towards a water ditch a kilometre north. It appears to have been formed from the dirty water running off from a small development. Apparently some good birds have been seen there. However these types of site are very hit and miss and often depend on the amount of water released over the preceding days. This time the water levels were low.
This time birds were limited to a glossy ibis and two moorhen.
dhow with great crested tern and lesser crested tren
An hour before we reached Fujairah beach we birded Dibba harbour and beach. This is where our encounters with terns began. A dhow in the harbour held fifteen lesser crested tern and a few less great crested tern. It's good to be able to see the two birds together. The great crested tern is notably larger, has a darker mantle and wings. It's bill is paler and yellower.
great crested tern
cormorant with terns
In all we saw nine species of tern over the weekend and it was really useful exposure to difficult group of birds to master.
In the next blog I return to looking at Salalah, Oman.