Tuesday, 30 March 2010

12th March. Kalashnikov and cake.

Today we had to survey deep into a remote area of the reserve. Anwar was waiting for us as we pulled up outside his house at dawn. He trotted down to the bus dressed smartly in his combat gear, peaked cap and white plimsolls. As he reached us he turned and ran back indoors and reappeared with a green plastic bag and his Kalashnikov. He knew he had forgotten something!We arrived at the guard house and Anwar produced communal Arabic coffee and sticky cake from his bag. To reach the areas we were surveying we had to walk 4 km across rocky terrain, then do the 4 hour survey and then walk back; a total of 12 km. The return under a scorching sun and a temperature of 30+, following Anwar who was skipping across the rocks in his plimsols as if it were a Sunday stroll. We were absolutely shattered.The surveys produced many Orphean warblers, Scrub Warblers, Chukars, Short-toed Larks, Desert Grey Shrike, Red-rumped Swallow, Long-legged Buzzard and Black-eared Wheatear.We dropped Anwar off, Kalashnikov unused, and wandered around town. I greeted a young lad with my best Arabic "marhaba", to which he replied "what?"

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