Sailing the Malabar Coast in Search of Sea Birds

Kannur coast: A moon-blanched landscape in early morning with Ezhimala in the backdrop

Pelagic birds are sea birds.  They rarely come to the coast, wind blown most often.  I joined Keralabirder and Malabar Natural History Society team for a first ever pelagic survey off the coast of Kannur from Azhikal bay on 26 september 2010.  We were around 20 birders in the team including Mike Prince, Sathyan Meppayur, K V Uthaman, Jaffar Palot, Praveen J and the rest.

Leaving Azhikal bay, Western Ghats in the eastern horizon

We sailed on a small old fishing boat upto 30km from the coast.  Ezhimala was visible even from that distance.  In the beginning the sea caught me with its rocking  waves and upturned my stomach.  But I got used to the undulations soon.

Parasitic Skua at 30km outshore

We saw a number of pelagic birds including Arctic (Parasitic) Skua, Flesh -footed Shearwater, Lesser-crested Terns, Common Terns etc.  Also saw sardine shoals moving around. Some butterflies and dragonflies like wandering gliders were also seen at the sea, perhaps on the way to Africa via Maldives.

Flesh-footed Shearwater 10km away from shore
Lesser Crested Terns sitting pretty
Crew cooking freshcatch of seafood
Skua in flight
Pirates of the Arabian: Bimal Nath, Uthaman, Prince...
A landmark on the Malabar coast: Ezhimala from 30km outshore
Land at last: MNHS-Keralabirder team finally reaching shores