I arrived in Dubai yesterday evening and was picked up at the airport by Moayyed. The hour-long drive to the DDCR gave us an opportunity to get acquainted and to start discussing some of the logistics and science objectives of this year’s expedition. As well as our annual expedition count of the ungulate species (Arabian oryx, Arabian gazelle and sand gazelle), we will be doing some small mammal live trapping to determine population densities of the prey species that sustain the red fox, sand fox and Gordon’s wildcat.
Today (Thursday) was an early start. Following a quick catch-up with Greg, we drove into the city to collect the expedition vehicles (Toyota Landcruisers) from the office of Arabian Adventures.
Then it was off to take my chances on the Dubai road system to buy essential supplies (tents, tea, coffee, biscuits, toilet rolls, etc) for base camp. Thanks to my sat nav, I got back to the DDCR early afternoon, which left some daylight to start getting everything organised out at basecamp. Before leaving the DDCR office, I let some air out of the vehicles tyres to aid traction in the soft sand, we normally run the tyres at about half the normal tarmac driving pressure when driving on the reserve’s sand tracks. The camp is about a 15 minute drive from the DDCR office in a very pleasant spot among Ghaf trees, one of the tree species you will learn to recognise for our vegetation surveys.
Tomorrow Moayyed and I will finish preparing base camp, organising the scientific equipment and make sure we have plenty of copies of the data sheets on which the science of our citizen scientists will be recorded.
We are looking forward to meeting the team on Saturday morning (09:00 in the lobby of the Premier Inn). The weather forecast is for sunny skies and day temperatures in the 20s C.
Once at the DDCR, there will be introductions (to each other and the research), teaching of survey skills and methodologies and some training in off-road driving and an opportunity to practice. Safe travels to Dubai and we’ll see you all soon!