Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hedgehog and other sightings.

Eastern European hedgehog, Erinaceous concolor from a site called Nature Pelion

Today's range: 19-30 degrees C. Not sure exactly when we went out but at 6 p.m. temp ~26 degrees, humidity ~60% already, winds pretty much westerly all day and blew betw. 12-15 kt.

Moshe and Avremi came with us but split off at the cistern northwards to show the bat cave to our Shabbos guest, Adam. I gave yet another routine 'watch out for snakes!' . Moshe thinks he caught a glimpse of an Agama in the bunker ruins.

Three gazelles today, a mother followed by young north west gazelle field/lower hill slopes across the north valley water course. (I was hoping one of the little party would just catch a glimpse of movement and look to their right but ach, they missed them! ) A short while later alpha male buck running through the Pistaccio orchard toward eucalyptus orchard. Fresh prints also found edge of centre trail.

Hyraxes heard.

On our way back along valley road close to sunset found remains of a hedgehog, (most probably Eastern European hedgehog, Erinaceous concolor) no head, just part of the spiny back and skeleton of back leg a foot or so from the edge of the road, likely hit by a vehicle while 'frozen'. When I told Moshe about it later he asked me 'no skull?' 'no skull'. 'No school! yippee!' His joke, he's celebrating just finishing 6th grade. We see them from time to time at night, but this was the first I've seen in ages.

Birds: Watched a hooded crow chase a small raptor north east of gazelle field, a young kestrel? Shortly after saw a falcon, possibly the same kestrel heading south over the bipass road area. Jackdaws heard from somewhere over east on the Hizmeh hillside, there had been a herd of goats there earlier, yep, they were following the goats again! Eurasian Jays active, one visited cistern. The goldfish someone put in there some time back are still doing well though the water looks awful. The smaller cavity has dried up.

Chukar partridges heard south of central trail several times. Laughing doves cooing around the house, several pairs over by breadcrumb corner, collared doves down in the valley and turtle doves also heard. Feral pigeons small groups flying over head. Bee-eaters heard later toward sunset. Graceful warblers, Syrian woodpeckers and White spectacled bulbuls heard near look-out corner. Blackbirds in song here and there in the forest, and active flying about, some alarm calls. House sparrows around the house as usual.

The boys found a nice praying mantis while showing Adam some fossil structures in the limestone, (probably something like crinoids from back where this area was under the sea)

Spines of the dead hedgehog we found. It's amazing that although they are much smaller and apparently more densely packed (and from totally unrelated animals) they are so similar in form and texture and barring to those of the porcupine.. I notice the end tips on porcs are dark and those on the hedgehog are light. (but I suspect it's a more complicated than that in the porc as it seems much thinner white ended spines overly other broader thicker ones. )

Also the darker bars on the hedgehog are shades lighter than those on the porcs. Hedgehog leg bone lower left.

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