Saturday, 26 May 2012

On the edge of the Empty Quarter!

The Empty Quarter is a vast area of desert, which is mainly in Saudi Arabia & just straddles over into the territory of the UAE. It is a huge area of desert wilderness, with hardly any human habitation. However oil is under the surface and that is why I was there, conducting an environmental baseline survey, before exploration proceeds. I was based in Qasawira Camp, but most of my travels were in the Mender Concession.

The land of the mega-dunes.
Stunning desert scenery.

Large, flat sabkha plains are found
inbetween the high dune fields.

The main highway to Qasawira Camp!

We try to make people as environmentally aware
as possible. Here, written in three languages!
Saltbush vegetation is often found
at the base of the large dunes,
 where underground water collects.

It is big dune & big sky country & is fantastic for just exploring. My three days down there, were not that productive, mainly because of the time of year, but it was nice to just drive & walk around. It is this area that has been chosen as a release site for the critically endangered Arabian Oryx and the endangered Sand Gazelle. Both are now firmly introduced into this region and seem to be thriving. Young are now been born in the wild & the animals are wandering ever more widely, as the programmes progresses and it has been very successful.
A herd of Arabian Oryx, at home,
in their natural habitat.
A satellite tagged animal in a holding pen,
ready for release.
In the early 1970's
this species was on the very edge of extinction!
This particular herd roam extensively
 over this huge area.
A wonderful UAE conservation success story!
The critically endangered Sand Gazelle.
Animals are fed & then slowly encouraged to wander
 further afield & forage for themselves.

The vast expanses of the Empty Quarter pose a huge barrier to bird migration. Many birds must perish each season. Any shade is used, so this grove of trees was very attractive, holding 35 Marsh Warblers!

Shade & water is at a premium here!

Marsh Warbler.

A Marsh Warbler looking for water.
Where trees have been palnted European Turtle Doves have moved in to breed. There are literally hundreds of pairs of this species in the deep southern deserts.
European Turtle Dove is a common
 breeding summer migrant here.
Brown necked Raven has its stronghold here,
in these vast deserts.
Over three days: 290 species (0 species added): 630 kms travelled.

A young male, Sand Gazelle.

A young Sand Gazelle.
Resting in shade, during the heat of the day.

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