Despite the stormy weather in these parts of late, the sea was like a mill pond. It was incredibly calm.
Within 15 minutes, we had encountered a group of Persian shearwater which were spending much time swimming on the surface and "periscoping" the sea for food.
Two Persian shearwater
Perhaps surprisingly I had previously only seen flesh-footed shearwater and wedge-tailed shearwater in Oman and that by sea watching from land. The much more common Persian shearwater had escaped me. It was a lifer and also the 300th bird on my Oman list. This was fine start to the trip.
Persian shearwater taking off
Apart from the odd sooty gull flying out to sea, the next species seen was brown noddy.
This bird is much more familiar to me but in Oman I had only seen one before which had flown into the bay at Khawr Rori.
There were three at Mirbat.
Jouanin's petrel 1
Soon after seeing the three brown noddy we came across our first group of Jouanin's petrel. This was another lifer and another addition to my Oman list.
This turned out to be the second most common bird of the trip. Several small groups were seen throughout. When flying it is easily separated from other all dark sea birds by the 45 degree angle it holds its bill at.
Jouanin's petrel 2
Only one great crested tern was observed. All other terns were bridled tern.
When resting, they showed a strong preference for standing on pieces of wood rather than swimming like all the other sea birds including the distantly related brown noddy.
three bridled tern
As a crude rule of thumb, it seems the bigger the piece of wood the more bridled tern.
The most abundant bird of all on pelagic trip was red-necked phalarope. This was not unexpected as most of the world population winters off the Yemen and Oman coast.
Following the early flurry of species, we were seeing the same ones for a long while until three Socotra cormorant flew by.
After a little over 3 hours, we decided to head to harbour and going fast towards it when a small dark bird was spotted.
We soon realised it was a lone Wilson's storm petrel.
first view of Wilson's storm petrel
It looked like it was walking on water. It turned and walked towards us. It was using one wing to catch some wind which was enough to propel it forward at a fast enough speed that it didn't need to fly. It was like it was yachting.
"walking"" Wilson's storm petrel
Occasionally it would jump up a few centimetres but resuming its walk.
"jumping" Wilson's storm petrel
The picture below shows this use of one wing.
Wilson's storm petrel "walking" again
Just as we were about to leave it changed direction again but was still walking.
Wilson's storm petrel having turned
This was magical end to the boat trip and I think all of us found this spectacle the highlight. Wilson's storm petrel was a third lifer and the third addition to my Oman list. I started the trip with 299 species and ended it with 302.