Friday, 20 July 2018

Spotlighting in the Gobi Desert!

 European Eagle Owl
On our recent to trip to Mongolia we went out spotlighting for cats and various rodents in the southern Gobi Desert on several evenings. During one of these evenings as we were walking along a gorge, a European Eagle Owl flew just c25 feet over our heads carrying prey for its owlets, 2 LED spotlights picked it out completely dazzling it, causing it to crash into the side of the gorge dropping its prey which landed at my feet with a thump, it then fell to the ground dazed and dazzled just a few feet away from us. As far as I know the Owl recovered. I had never worried about the consequences of spotlighting, but this incident bothered me to the extent that I now feel I don't want to participate in spotlighting again.
Corpse of a Pallas's Cat kitten decapitated by a European Eagle Owl that was meant to be fed to the 2 Owlets nearby. We thought the adult owl would return and pick the kitten up after we left, but the corpse was still where we left it on our return in the morning. 
 European Eagle Owlet possibly going hungry because we dazzled one of its parents. Fortunately the owlet didn't panic and fall off the cliff edge when spotlighted.
 Adult Lammergeier
Had these 2 Lammergeier's panicked when picked out by our spotlights, they could easily have been seriously injured, launching themselves off the cliffs into the darkness.
Juvenile Lammergeier
Adult Pallas's Cat
Although this adult Pallas's Cat looks relaxed in the spotlights, it eventually did panic when we got to close and launched itself down the rock face to escape us. As far as I know it did not injure itself, but it did leave me with a bad taste in my mouth, another reason for me not to spotlight again.
 These Marbled Polecats seemed quite relaxed and seem to be playing in the spotlight
Marbled Polecats
On another evening a juvenile Pallas's Sandgrouse caught in our spotlights, we could easily have caught this bird had we had a net. Whether or not the bird and rodents were stressed by spotlighting I don't know. Several other Pallas's Sandgrouse were flushed as we drove around the desert looking for Jerboa's and Gerbils.
 A couple of Fat-tailed Gerbils were found by spotlights, the one above froze where as the other dived into cover.
 Hairy-footed Jerboa
Long-eared Jerboa
This Long-eared Hedgehog definitely didn't enjoy the attention we gave it.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Martin
    Spotlighting and Flash Photography of Wildlife must cause a lot of disturbance and stress , glad you have a conscience , Wildlife must be respected if we want to carry on observing it and enjoying it