Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Latest C.O.N.E. project and local goodies

A handsome little jumping spider type.. Those of you who are not at all arachnophobic, click on the picture so that it (more than) fills the entire screen, and scroll to the spider to really appreciate him. This image file has enough definition for a very nice zoom.

Check out
for a really nice game/online birdwatching experience. Effectively it has been a tutorial for me for birds of south east Texas. You share guidance of the camera, take pictures of the birds and ID the species to get points. There's a simultaneous chat room to communicate with the other users.
Free, you just have to register and log in, which is simple.

I had participated in the C.O.N.E. project this time last year when it was based in Sutro forest in the San Francisco Bay area, and learned a great deal there.

C.O.N.E. = (Collaborative Observatories for Natural Environments)

So far we've seen plenty brown headed and bronzed cowbirds, great- tailed grackles, red- winged blackbirds, northern cardinals and green jays as well as ruby- throated, black- chinned and buff bellied hummingbirds as well as some surprises. White tailed deer, raccoons, feral swine and javelinas also visit the site. Fun to watch, you never know what will show.. and if transmission isn't working (as it isn't for me for many hours), I just try again later- I can always catch up with what's been seen in the gallery.

Meanwhile here the temps took a slight upward swing again: Range 16-28.5 degrees C.
When we went out some time after 6 p.m. it was just over 26 degrees, humidity just 24%, winds westerly 4.3 kt (winds had veered to the east several times earlier in the day)

Garden: White spectacled bulbul calling in the Bauhinia from just before dawn. House sparrows and feral pigeons as active as usual, the latter noticed up on roofs and solar boilers, busy preening.

In the valley: common swifts over many parts of east valley and gazelle field. Bee-eaters over north valley and the hill slopes, stopping to rest in a nice row on the line there- about 15 birds, perhaps more. Large Buteo seen soaring over the hill slopes and then southward over east valley. Syrian woodpecker calling shrilly in north wood pines, turtle doves cooing in several locations, collared doves also active and vocal as were graceful warblers. Great spotted cuckoo low churring call heard in the pines east end of north valley. Plenty hooded crows about.

Two gazelle noticed on the middle of the north ridge on the skyline up there and near the fence in that direction, both seemed to have well grown horns- probably the rest of the bachelor herd not far off but out of view.

Some boys came by with a dead snake, at least two feet long and an inch thick, and pretty uniformly grey (not sure which species but not one of the venomous ones) . They said it was actually a young one and they saw a larger parent with similar colouring. (I don't know how much I could rely on their report, a parent of a snake that size and colouring would likely be a black whip snake). I told them there had been no need to kill it at all, given that it wasn't particularly dangerous.

After some days of no fires we returned to find a section of the bank between valley road and our street merrily ablaze. After ascertaining that the fire was already pretty much spent and would not spread to south and north, we decided there was no reason for us to call the fire service that time, and save water. Limited damage, just superficial ground cover, no tree loss. Still a pity but not too bad. Plenty kids were spectating on the outer edges and I strongly suspect one of them was the mischief maker this time but no-one knew who.

No comments: