After months exploring wadis and mountains, Shaquel al Balushi left dry land and headed out to see Muscat from the water, where he discovered the nesting site of the city’s parrot population
As we neared the rock, the tide gently propelling us forward, I suddenly spotted some odd-looking objects moving. Intrigued, I zoomed in on the shapes, realising with surprise that I was looking at several green parrots.
Any regular visitors to Qurum Natural Park will be familiar with these little feathered friends – you can spot them flying around and people-watching from the safety of tree branches.
Here out on the water, past the PDO’s Ras al Hamra club, was their hideaway, the parrots’ secret nesting place, where they can rest in safety, tucked away from prying eyes and not visible from the shore.
As the captain of our fishing boat held steady, I managed to capture a few shots of the colourful creatures. They didn’t seem bothered by our presence or the spluttering of the boat’s outboard motor, but we kept a respectful distance and gave them their privacy. In the craggy rock, you could clearly see holes where the parrots nestle at night or shield themselves from the harsh Omani sun.
To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I headed off for an adventure on the water, but I certainly didn’t imagine for one moment that I would be encountering a parrot. That’s the beauty of a spontaneous trip; you never know what might happen.
In the mood for something different for this week’s Destination, I asked a friend of a friend to help out. He has a day job, but in the evenings and weekends, he works as a fisherman based out of Qurum and was more than willing to accept a photographer as a passenger.
Early afternoon on a Friday and we set off from below the Crowne Plaza and headed out to sea with the rock of Mina al Fahal in the distance. The water was calm and a pleasant breeze, tasting of salt, cooled my face. We veered right, following the cliff round from the hotel and saw some amazing houses, with enviable uninterrupted views of the water, which are not seen from the beach road. Some of them had rickety wooden steps heading down towards the water below.
We passed incredible rock formations, weathered by time and the elements to become beautiful colours and shapes, like an art installation or a sculpture moulded by nature rather than by hand.
We passed by the recreation club at Ras al Hamra in PDO with the beach club and sun loungers on the sand, although it was quite empty at that hour. On the other side of this is a large piece of darkish rock that has broken off over the years and now stands entirely separately on its own. It made a nice image, crumbled away from the mother rock and becoming its own entity.
Along from here is the place that my friends and I know as the “Third Beach”. There is a large rock jutting out into the water and a small shoreline, fantastically secluded and perfect for a boys’ adventure. If you didn’t know about this place, you would likely not find it. We used to come here as children – it’s where I first learnt to swim – and as we grew up, we progressed to cliff jumping, clambering up the rock and leaping off into the water. I also used to practice my free climbing here – the water provides a safe landing for when you fall off – and still take friends there to teach them the basics.
The soft glow of the afternoon sun lit up the rock face, exposing the tiny details and bouncing off the water, so that the waves appeared to be lit up as they danced with the rhythm of the tide.
My colleague had suggested that we investigate the Mina al Fahal rock, where reef sharks and turtles have been spotted, but we were running out of time, as my fishermen friend was needed back on shore. Perhaps that can be my next water trip.
Seeing Muscat from the sea through my lens was a new experience for me and it opened my eyes – you view the world differently from here and Muscat, a place that I know like the back of my hand, was seen in another context.