Thursday, June 26, 2008

Windsurfer Hill

Moshe's fox hole.

Weather (thursday 26th June): temp range 20-34 degrees C again. By about 6.30 p.m. it was down to just over 26 degrees, 58% humidity and westerly winds almost 14 knots. Yet again winds had veered north, drooped, then east late morning and early afternoon.

Today we walked up 'windsurfer hill' with Moshe and Avremi. We call it that because we've seen hooded crows spend their leisure time 'surfing' the westerly breezes that brush up against the hillside. They seem to really enjoy this pastime.

We took the long way around, passing by the cistern, then heading south through the eucalyptus grove and then up the hill along a dirt trail by a gradual incline. We found a well grown gazelle (female apparently) grazing up in the north west area of gazelle field. In the 'east field', at somewhat higher elevation Moshe spotted a female and one of this years babies (cheer!) head up windsurfer hill ahead of us and then disappear around the west face. We found some gazelle spoor along the way. Three today then, always nice especially when young are seen. Husband found some other spoor but I did not recognize it, about the same size as gazelle spoor but a much smaller pile and each piece a little longer than wide. Not porcupine, I've seen that and it's ridged and peculiar and not piled. Perhaps hyrax.

The cave near the top of the hill is the biggest in the area we know of and was furnished with an old couch and some cooking utensils and other stuff. How about that! It's possible to drive up there from the Pisgat Zeev side and then just haul the stuff across the top of the hill a few dozen yards or so. We wondered who was using it but I instructed the boys to leave it exactly as found. They came out with a dead oval shaped black cave cockroach about 2 cm long but didn't find me any isopods. I didn't take this find home!

We enjoyed the views from the top till after sunset. While they were in the cave I was just flat out wiped and lay down between the blue thyme cushions just resting and this apparently attracted the attention of a local bunch of 'surfers'. 20 or so hooded crows circled a few dozen feet above me, cawing to each other and taking a look. I could imagine what they were 'saying' in crow speak. 'Well, is that carrion down there or isn't it?' 'no, it moved! It's still alive, we shouldn't risk it!' 'But it looks like meat, why don't we go down and investigate', 'no, I saw it move again, it's alive I say!' I was just hoping they wouldn't poop on me! They didn't.

We descended back to the 'east valley' the fastest way, picking out a trail between thyme and boulders and eventually following the north bank of a dry watercourse down the western slope. I love such watercourses, they are always so much lusher in vegetation than the surrounding hillside and have a special cascading charm even when dry. Just off this trail Moshe made a terrific discovery and called me over, wanting to know if this hole was as he suspected. He'd been looking out for holes the entire distance.

Oh yes, this one looked like a fox earth all right! Size was right, apron of untidy dug out earth out in front and even a few incriminating feathers. Moshe was ecstatic! He had dreams of adopting a fox cub as a pet but I had to discourage this idea, sadly. Such a cub would have to be taken shortly after birth and fed with special formula milk to have any chance of attaching itself to a human being. The season was already well advanced, and this was quite apart from the logistics of reaching anything down that hole which could be many feet in depth, and most likely not a breeding hole but a bolt or food storage hole. Still, it was a pretty good find for a fox fan like my son.

Hyraxes were about and active near the pumping station. The boys decided to climb the hill there to connect with the end of our street while we would take the longer and easier way around but of course we arrived back at the same time since they had stopped to watch hyraxes!

I was too bone weary to really look out for birds today. In passing we did notice stone curlews, bee-eaters, blackbirds, collared doves, , syrian woodpeckers. sunbird in the eucalyptus by look-out corner.

White spectacled bulbul
in the garden, House sparrows, feral pigeons and laughing doves as usual. The local jackdaws are off foraging farther affield today, probably following goats again, we didn't hear a one.

Bat noticed on the way home, fluttering over valley road. We often see one or more these days at twilight on our way back.

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