Thursday, July 24, 2008

More on the Shell Saga, and local birds.

Encrusted end of the shell obscures some of the difference betw. Conus and Conomurex. As you see, from this angle the opening is quite wide, much wider than it is in a Conus. We have an empty Conus from Eilat, looking at it now the differences become clearer. I will have to put in a photo of that for comparison later. The occupant had retired quite deeply inside, no doubt to avoid the sun. He will soon be returned to the sea.

Prof. Bella Galil, an expert on our coastal fauna, was kind enough to respond to my enquiry and readily IDd the mollusc as Conomurex persicus, also known as the Persian conch. She told me this was one of at least 300 different species that had reached the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal (at least I got that right!) and had established itself very successfully along the western shores of Israel. From the dark colour of the toothed radula we can surmise it was a male.

A beautiful photograph can be seen at
I was quite surprised it wasn't a Conus, though in many ways the shells are similar. The whorl end in Conomurex is more peaked and developed (with some variation) whereas Conus is flatter, but take a look at the end of the shell we found on the beach, above. The encrustation obscured this difference a great deal. Of course I certainly defer to Prof Belil's experience and expertise in her field, she seems familiar with this one!

We were relieved that by replacing it in the water we would not endanger future paddlers. However, our alert still stands. If Conomurex can make it up the Suez and establish itself, so can Conus!

What was happening down in Eyn Porat today? Scores of Bee-eaters up where they were yesterday, north west end of gazelle field, and then moved over east to hunt over the whole field. Hoopoe seen flying into the acacia back there, stone curlews heard calling. Syrian woodpeckers also heard. Flock of about 70 jackdaws foraging on the ground far north end of the field/lower hill slopes, possibly picking around gazelle droppings for bugs as they do with goats.

Several gazelle spotted up on the skyline hilltop to the north, appearing and disappearing quite tantalizingly in ones and twos.

Sunbird singing in the Bauhinia tree today.

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