Sunday, 28 March 2010
1st March. Houbara Houbara!.
For our 'day off' from Sociables we aimed to start out at the Talila reserve. But first we had to meet the president of the Desert Commission. Over a cup of camomile tea he urged us to seek out further rare species in the Palmyra area. By the end of the day we had obliged.
We drove deep into the reserve to hear about their breeding programme, gathering photos of Arabian Oryx and Sand Gazelle, whilst adding 10 Hoopoe Lark, 14 Temminck's Horned Lark, 230 Lesser Short-toed Larks, 3 Greater Sand Plovers and the usual wheatears along the way. The desert flora was the best we had seen.
The afternoon passed slowly by, with little added but many miles covered as we travelled deep into the desert. By 4.30 we turned back towards home. Staring idly out of the window as always, a movement caught my eye. HOUBARA! HOUBARA! The car erupted. A Houbara Bustard ran parallel with the vehicle and up over a ridge. I fired off a few shots with the camera. Ahmed leapt out of the car and did a jig. Much high fiving ensued.
We circled around quickly but failed to find the bird; it must have flown in all the commotion. We scanned around from a high point and in the next 30 minutes added 2 Cream-coloured Coursers, 243 Cranes, 3 Dotterel and a Lybian Jerd.
We ended the day having completed our first loop of Syria, covering 5,060 Km and with the first recent record of Houbara Bustard under our belts. The president was duly informed (and now has a framed photo on his desk).