Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hyrax aggression and Caper berries

Plenty hyrax were active today near the pumping station, including a lot of the dark coloured youngsters. This one we photographed allowed us to approach within about eight feet and take numerous pics, it was quite unconcerned, and between fixing us with its beady eyes, looked around for something to nibble.

We noticed it appeared to have an almost bald patch (dark area) toward the front of the right flank with what appeared to be a thin white scar. We wondered if this was due to a fighting injury or perhaps to an encounter with heavy duty wire. We've noticed lately quite a few adults with rumpled flanks and when they have territorial encounters they tend to bite in the hind flank. Could that dead one we saw actually have died from such an aggressive encounter? Checking articles on line I found answer to be yes, fights can be fatal. Because population density is so high now it's no surprise there are so many signs of fighting. Amazingly female hyraxes have as much if not more testosterone than males, tend to be more dominant in the colony and are actually more likely to fight.


No gazelle sighted today.

Birds about: Hooded crows, feral pigeons, laughing doves (cooing in the garden), house sparrows, white spectacled bulbuls (repetitive hoarse calls on the bank), sunbirds (in eucalyptus near the pistaccio orchard), a bunch of finches up there too but could not make them out but in silhouette, forked tails, that I could tell. More goldfinches? Didn't sound like greenfinches, sharper calls. Turtle dove coos, stone curlew calls, bee-eater quite large flocksomewhere north west gazelle field area. Syrian woodpecker (male) on a LINE over the middle of east valley pines. first time I've seen one perched for so long, he seemed quite settled there, wiped his bill a few times, looked around, groomed. Farther down was a turtle dove.. also collared doves around, some cooing. Graceful warblers calls. Eurasian jays about.

Night walks lately: another cricket seen, many heard as usual, the usual black millipedes, prolific throughout the summer, many up to around 15 cm (Moshe picked up a nice long one by the bat cave and this one actually nipped him with its mouthparts though not strongly.. he said that had never happened before), another scorpion, thinner tail, much broader pincer base, very dark but not black.

The fruit of the caper Capparis spinosa is pretty much ripe now. These are edible and often pickled though are not as popular as the buds. Look out for those nasty yellow spines, very sharp! . Most of the flowers are spent though there are still a few late flowers around. Mullein flowers also almost spent though Israeli thyme is still blooming cheerfully blue in many places. Grass where the gazelle usually graze is very dried out now and yellowish, but the gazelle may also be using the occasional more green shrub here and there. Tough grazing now.

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