Tuesday, December 30, 2008

green lichen and head lolling jay

Most lichens we find are whitish or shades of yellow so I was particularly fascinated to find this patch, one of several, of definite green lichen I hadn't noticed before, with slightly larger lobes than other lichens. Clearly this symbiont has a green algae component. This I found just to the north of the central trail under the pines. One of the rewards for dealing with litter, finding little woodland gems like this. Click on pic for slightly better view.

Damp day, Just after 4 p.m. just under 10 degrees C. (today's range: 8.2-12.5), 87% humidity, westerlies, just under 14 knots.. that's the speed the weather station gave but in the valley it was much lighter.

Gazelles: None seen today

Early afternoon some sun and the garden seemed quite active. Within a few minutes I'd heard house sparrows, jackdaws, hooded crows, white spectacled bulbuls and blackbird. There was a repeated light, low clucking call which I wanted to I.D. It was in the Bauhinia and seemed to be coming from a blackbird in there but I was not familiar with that particular call. That's the way it is with many birds. As well as their main song (with variants, 'tuning up', subsongs, training songs) there are usually at least half a dozen other calls for pretty much every species. Some are contact calls and others various alarm calls for different situations. Finding an unfamiliar call of a common bird often means I simply had not enountered it in that situation before, whatever it was! That call could mean, "I want to forage in this tree but you bulbuls are annoying me" . One can speculate! At any rate, sunbirds were keeping a low profile today but I did see laughing doves fly to the eaves of the garden next door and a short while later saw a few more pairs fly from crumb corner to the same garden. Seems they like the lush high cover that their cypresses, palm and other bushes provide. W
hite wagtail also heard from the house mid afternoon.

On the bank between valley road and the buildings we heard at least one foraging
graceful warbler in the scrub and low ground cover. We also watched a rather bedraggled Eurasian Jay that seemed a little ill. A few times we saw it loll it's head as if it were about to keel over. Sense of balance seemed compromised. I wondered if it had eaten something toxic. Even a little discarded chocolate can be poisonous to birds and their are much worse alternatives. I was all for sneaking up and grabbing it with a peace of cloth I found, and taking care of it at home and we started to do this but it 'revived' pretty quickly and flew off low a to land a few dozen metres away. Pity. A jay would be easy to feed at home, being omnivorous, but it was plain we weren't going to be able to get near enough to catch it.

Very sick and traumatized birds can accept human care and come to trust quite quickly but if they're still too full of health they will be very distrusting from the start as well as potentially vicious. Quite the opposite from many mammals. Also, a very sick bird that won't move is also often close to death and odds are high they won't make it at all. They hide sickness as long as they can. If they'll take help from us they're truly desperate. Wish I could have helped that jay, as well as got to know it a bit better!

The local Feral pigeons were active and aloft today, wheeling over the buildings in flock formation. Watching out for starlings now but none yet.
Great tits: calls around the bank ? Just after sunset, hooded crows making their way towards their mid east valley high tree roost.

East valley stream flowing today, probably rain run off together with pump- house overflow. (Vehicles parked there indicated maintenance work in progress). Water looked quite clean and judging by the amount of foliage which has sprouting up in the stream bed over the last three weeks, clearly effluent is not toxic, thank God!

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