May 10, 2011
Another walk in the early morning to look at birds and ibex before breakfast. The sun is rising at about 4:30 AM, but I am not up until 6am. The morning belongs to organizing equipment and training the volunteers. We split up for our various research projects in the afternoon – the volunteers all go to set up small mammal traps, while some students go to track argali, ibex, and hedgehogs . I go with my friend Luis Ramirez and Batdorj to check vulture nests to see if nests that contained eggs last month still have eggs or, by now, chicks. We find both. We find one nest vacant – only egg shells remain, but we find a new nest built where one blew over last month!
We get a good soaking rain the late morning/early afternoon – this bodes well for the vegetation.
One of our researchers and a volunteer catch an ibex kid, but do not have ear tags or a telemetry unit and so let it go. I urge them to simply run back to camp next time (they were
only about 1 mile away). Two big rams are hanging out in the rocks just above camp in the evening – just 100 m away!
May 11, 2011
There were howling winds that turned into a real sand storm. We still have to go, check, and close the small mammal traps. On one grid, we catch 2 gerbils. On the other, the traps have all blown away (on the flat open area). It's crazy working in this storm, getting sand blasted and visibility at only about 100 m! We gather several traps, but have to give up. Everyone bundles up and uses bandannas or balaclavas to cover our faces. Dust is swirling everywhere. It's hard to find our way back in this storm, but we have GPS units to show us the way. The storm precludes other work, so we play cards in the gers and I do some work on data and papers until dinner. Buyana gets some volunteers to help her make funnel traps for capturing reptiles. Amgaa gives a talk in the evening.