16 June 2024

Bushcamp about 500m from main highway along compacted sand path or dirt track. It held the weight of the bus, no bother. We were hoping to camp just outside Al Qaran Town in a picnic park but this wasn’t possible, for some reason. We were about 1km from Al-Asfar Lake although we couldn’t see it. Mosquitoes can fly 1km and they were feasting on us. Thank the gods for DEET

As soon as we started pitching camp, a guy in full Arab dress stopped in a Toyota Landcruiser which had a huge radio aerial attached to the roof. I wondered if he was from one of the multiple security agencies in Saudi. Maybe he was, but the reason he stopped was to help us and advise us to pull over as far as possible as the road was used at nighttime by large construction trucks. If it was, I didn’t hear any during the night.

Then he went back to his car and brought out a magnificent falcon with its head hooded. He had a stand on a spike which he inserted into the sand and the falcon perched on this. We oooh’d and aaah’d. He took the hood off and the falcon glared around fiercely. We oooh’d and aaah’d even louder.

Then he went back to his car and took what looked like a pigeon with its wing either broken or damaged. He took the restraints off the falcon, who didn’t fly away. Then he threw the pigeon into the are but it couldn’t fly and landed on the ground making a loud flapping noise and obviously in deep distress. The falcon was on it in a flash and partially killed it. It was bloody with it’s neck loose but still moving. Then the falcon flew away with the pigeon in its claws and the man drove away in his big white Toyota Landcruiser. We didn’t oooh and aaah this time.

Then dinner and an early night.

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