Field Trip to Wadi Juwaif 3-5 October 2003

Field Trip to Wadi Juwaif 3-5 October 2003

During the summer, Bill Jones and others were visiting a hidden set of pools just off WadiJuwaif when they heard what appeared to be a large cat scurrying away after the group interrupted a mid-day snooze in the shade.

The group investigated the hideaway and found evidence of the cat and two burrows in the sand and gravel beneath an overhang. It was the perfect place to hide, with shade, private entrance and escape routes, as well as a supply of water nearby.

In early October, Bill and Brien Holmes set out to try to photograph the cat using the group's motion-activated cameras.

On the Friday morning, the cameras were set up in the hideaway though there was no evidence of the cat. There were no fresh footprints, no signs of use of the burrows, and even cobwebs over one entrance.

Despite the lack of evidence, one of the two cameras was set up and the bait (a package of prepared cat food) was placed.

When the two returned, along with Will Moore, on Sunday afternoon, there had not been a single "event" recorded by the motion detectors, and not a single photograph taken. There was no evidence of fresh footprints in the soft sand. However, the bait was almost all gone as a nearby ant colony had discovered the treasure trove and was steadily moving the food to the ant nest.

It was possible that the cat, frightened by the visitors a few months ago, had decided it was still not safe to use the hideaway. It is also possible that the spot was only used by the cat in the summer months and that, as the season progresses, the cat moves to different locations in its territory.

The group may choose to bait the site off and on during the coming months and place the cameras in position again when there is some evidence of the cat taking the bait.

Wadi Juwaif, an exceptionally wide gorge, meanders northerly towards the village of Juwaif, with many side channels. An abandoned refuse dump supplies litter that is blown down into the wadi. On the visit Friday, there were many pools of fresh water, evidence of a shower a day or two earlier. By Sunday, the small shallow pools were gone. Near the cat's hideaway, large permanent pools of water, likely two meters or more in depth, lay in the shadows, the view very much like the pools at Wadi Sharm ('Hidden Waterfall').

While it is impossible to drive north towards Juwaif, it is possible to drive down the wadi and back to the paved road.

On the plateau between the wadi and the mountains, there was only one small cluster of houses found. The only remarkable find were three broken grinding blocks . . . and only the top stones of each set.

Thanks to Bill for organizing the outing and to Brien for sharing photographs.

The view down Wadi Juwaif, with its unusually wide path and steep sides.
Photo by Brien
The small side wadi where the hideaway is located.
Photo by Brien
Small pools of fresh water in the natural basins in the bedrock, evidence of recent rainfall.
Photo by Brien
Plantlife in the side wadi had survived the summer in very good condition.
Photo by Brien
The cave was excavated by people in the past who were collecting clay.
Photo by Brien
There is still a considerable supply of clay. A large Omani lizard resides in the brush here.
Photo by Brien
Pools of stagnant water amid the bolders, the pools up to 2 meters in depth.
Photo by Brien
Bill entering the hideaway.
Photo by Brien
One of the burrow entrances can be seen above the camera box.
Photo by Brien
One of the cameras attached to a palm frond, the transmitter resting on a ledge nearby.
Photo by Brien
The transmitter (right) and receiver (left) linked by infrared beam.
Photo by Brien
The bait, a small container of cat food.
Photo by Brien
All the bait being enjoyed by ants.
Photo by Brien


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