Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The hardiness of wild animals constantly amazes me

Tues: Range 8-14 degrees C
Late afternoon, high cirrus clouds over much of the sky, very beautiful.

House sparrows, hooded crows, laughing dove (cooing), white spectacled bulbuls, jackdaws, white wagtails, blackbirds (some song) , feral pigeons, great tits, the immature male black redstart again the the patch between buildings. Today we first noticed him perched up on a gazebo frame.
No gazelles today though hyrax and feral dogs active. Looking north just beyond eastern edge of trees noticed mammal and delighted to see it was a fox! Stopped to sit on its haunches and scratch, returned to forage then seemed to melt frustratingly into the hillside and didn't find him again.

Wed: Range: 6-14 degrees C
~4.30 p.m. 12.9 degrees C, 28% humidity, wind very light NE totally clear skies.

Heard from the house: House sparrows, white spectacled bulbuls, blackbird, white wagtails. Feral pigeons on roof rails as usual. Hooded crows about.

Approaching look-out corner along the central trail we saw adult male gazelle on the grassy west bank of the creek sproing across the trail, then head north under the eastern edge of the north valley pines. Looking north we saw a nice group of gazelle without horns (as far as we could make out from that distance, tiny horns would be pretty much invisible) grazing in the open behind the row of almond trees. The buck joined them and briefly chased after one of them, which spooked a third.. perhaps she thought he was after her so she also ran ahead.
After that they all settled down to grazing, generally facing away from the very light winds and gradually moving back towards the north valley woods and away from us. I recounted them numerous times as they drifted behind the almond trees, had to keep changing our position to try different vantage points. Often my count reached nine individuals but once reached ten including the buck. I did not notice any that seemed definitely pregnant but, as I kicked myself later, I wasn't really looking for that, really should have.

The hardiness of wild animals constantly amazes me. These gazelle have very short hair, seem to have minimum body fat, long delicate limbs and present a huge surface area to the elements relative to their weight and yet survived conditions which would make a human perish from exposure in far less time. Their temperature regulation mechanisms and efficiency must be fantastic! They tend to keep to the most sheltered parts of the valley but even so they are always out in the open.

Several Eurasian jays crossed over gazelle field to the north valley woods, graceful warbler heard calling, black redstarts heard as well as great tits, jackdaws and blackbirds (some song) but birds generally keeping a low profile.

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