Arabia: Group 1 summary

Time has flown by and team 1 is done. It’s been a great week. We collected a lot of data and I am confident in saying that the team all really enjoyed their experience here in the Arabian desert.

Yesterday we collected in the small mammal traps and the memory cards from the camera traps that were set at the beginning of the week. Team 2 will deploy the small mammal traps in three new locations. The camera traps have been left in place and we will retrieve the second set of memory cards at the end of next week.

The camera traps recorded over 6,000 (!) images this week (not including the 11,700 images of tree branches blowing in the wind caught on a single camera trap, which we will re-position next week). Species recorde included Arabian red fox, oryx, both gazelle species, sand grouse, pallid harrier and brown-necked raven. There was also a great shot of a southern grey shrike catching an insect. Greg and Moayyed will undertake a detailed analysis of the camera trap results over the next few weeks.

The large mammal traps did not catch anything, so will try with a different type of bait next week.

The small mammal traps were more successful with captures of Egyptian spiny mouse on the rocky outcrop in the north of the reserve and Cheesman’s gerbil in the south of the reserve. The team also made observations of jerboa and jird during daylight, which is unusual. At the southern trap grid location, we also recorded cat tracks.

Fox den surveys went well with 49 dens checked for activity, including the discovery of 14 new fox den locations. There were also several sightings of Arabian red fox during the week.

The team managed to undertake circular observations in 35 of the reserve’s 64 2×2 kmquadrants. This leaves 27 quadrants for the team 2 to survey next week. Circular observations recorded 285 oryx, 112 Arabian gazelle and 114 sand gazelle.

The team’s random observation data yielded 470 records, including 1,829 oryx, 566 Arabian gazelle and 90 sand gazelle. Also 4 MacQueen’s bustard, 10 lappet-faced vulture, 4 desert eagle owl and 2 Bonelli’s eagle.

Last night we were treated to dinner at the Arabian Adventures camp, where some of the team had a go at sand boarding, camel riding and henna painting.

I would like to thank the team 1 for all their hard work this week and also for being such great company. I know that Greg and Moayyed are really appreciative of everyone’s hard work and the data will be of significant long-term benefit to the DDCR, enabling comparisons with other expedition years where data has been collected in the same way. A special thanks also to Mohamed, a UAE national, who was part of the team 1 and enriched the experience by sharing his knowledge and experience of living in Dubai, as well as his great enthusiasm for the wildlife and habitats of his country.

We wish all of this week’s team a safe journey and are looking forward to meeting next week’s team.

Safe travels everyone.

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