Once we were about one kilometre out it became apparent that there were several shearwaters around of three species. When bait was thrown prolonged and closed views of all three were possible. Indeed this gave some of the best birding I have had in Oman. Flesh-footed shearwater was the most numerous. This species breeds in the southern oceans generally at latitudes 30°
-35° south. However they come north after breeding including to off the Oman coast. Contrary to the regional guide book they are not rare here.
This shearwater has no confusion species in this park of the world.
underwing of flesh-footed shearwater
At times the shearwaters literally walked on water.
walking on water
The only time they were agitated was when sooty gull competed with them for bait. This was minimised when we took the boat further out.
sooty gull and flesh-footed shearwater
For once the more local and northern hemisphere breeding Persian shearwater was not the most numerous shearwater around.
I find it difficult to get good pictures of them as their underbellies are so white that they readily overexpose.
Persian shearwater swimming away
When close to the boat they frequently had their heads in the water.
Persian shearwater with head down
The third shearwater was wedge-tailed shearwater. This is not common off Oman's coasts. There are two main morphs and also various intermediates. The pale morph has a white belly similar to a Persian shearwater. It is not rare throughout the world but it breeds close to the equator. The further the breeding colony is away from the equator the higher proportions of dark morph and intermediates.
The birds seen off Oman are said to be dark morph. Pale morph birds born close to the equator don't migrate far and highly unlikely to come here. However, the two birds I saw on Saturday looked more intermediate. I have read that these can be described as "cafe au lait".
There are only 63 records of wedge-tailed shearwater off Oman but I suspect it is more common than the numbers suggest. Not too many pelagics take place.
The main confusion species is Jouanin's petrel which is smaller and certainly darker than the two birds I saw on Saturday. The bill is also shorter but stronger on the petrel.
A few Jouanin's petrel were seen but only came close to the boat while the film crew were filming so I have no photos.
Other notably birds were 12 masked booby and a red-billed tropicbird.
black-crowned sparrow lark
Even without that, it was a special day.
Birds seen from the boat
Jouanin's Petrel 6
Flesh-footed Shearwater 12
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 2
Persian Shearwater 5
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 1
Red-billed Tropicbird 1
Masked Booby 12
Striated Heron 1
Common Sandpiper 1
Sooty Gull 22
Bridled Tern 4
Common Tern 12
Great Crested Tern 5