Travelling to Socotra with the British and Liverpool Museums Expedition (1898/99).
This is part two of a blog written by John-James Wilson, Curator of Vertebrate Zoology, World Museum, National Museums Liverpool. See Part One here.
The journey continues…
Homhil proved a “successful and delightful sojourn, adding largely to both the flora and fauna [collected]”. The camp, surrounded by the iconic Dragon’s Blood Trees (see them yourself here), had an ideal climate, 26°C during the day, 18°C at night.
Sketch of the cucumber tree of Socotra by J. R. Wellsted, another unusual endemic tree, made during an earlier expedition to Socotra. The sketch is part of the Royle collection at LIV herbarium, World Museum. © National Museums Liverpool (World Museum).
Ten days later, after difficulties agreeing the onward route, the party retraced their steps to the Hadibu Plain. Turning southwards they pitched tents at Elhe and spent two days preparing fresh camels. On the second day, Forbes forgot to put one of his gaiters on and suffered a severe sunburn on his leg (having my own prominent sunburn scar, this is another field experience I can empathise with). While back on the plain, Ogilvie-Grant collected the endemic – Socotra Grosbeak, Socotra Starling, and Socotra Warbler – amongst other animals.
Socotra Grosbeak – Rhynchostruthus socotranus Sclater and Hartlaub, 1881 [accession number: 31.12.1900.164a] (top); Socotra Starling – Onychognathus fratus (Sclater and Hartlaub, 1881) [accession number: 31.12.1900.160e] (middle); and Socotra Warbler – Incana incana (Slater and Hartlaub, 1881) [accession number: 31.12.1900.175m] (bottom). © National Museums Liverpool (World Museum).
The party resumed their trek into the mountains, reaching an elevation with stunning sea views. They remained at Adho Dimellus (also spelt Adhoh di-Melhoh), the “roof of Sokotra
”, until February 17th. Fieldwork often fuels friendships and an evening was spent entertaining an Austrian expedition party Forbes had met earlier in Aden.
Photograph of the camp at Adho Dimellus (H. O. Forbes from The Natural History of Sokotra and Abd-el-Kuri). Public Domain.