Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mole rats and the BBQ patches from hell

range: 4.5-11.5 degrees C today. Time of walk, just after 4 p.m. , ~10 degrees C, winds SW/W 2.5-5 kt & ~55% humidity.

Well, we finally solved the 'BBQ patch' mystery today. When we went to clean up where we'd been working before we found to our dismay a number of new patches of garbage on the lower parts of the north facing slopes towards the east end of north valley- almost exclusively 1 and half litre soft drink bottles and nosh packets, and it's definitely not BBQ season though that location is desirable in the summer, and the actual distribution was wrong for BBQs. Husband was the first to figure it out, based on the streaked distribution of moss I'd noted a little earlier on that part of the hillside. Of course! It was simply roadside litter brought down from storm drain overflow from way up the hill. That hadn't been obvious earlier since the water overflows only briefly. We need to find the outlet and rig it with some kind of net to prevent this in future. Dismaying but as much as road side littering is disgusting it was nice to know people weren't deliberately sullying the forest, not directly. We took a deep breath, sighed and filled our bags, making a mental note to bring extra tomorrow. Great!

The most amusing part of it was a soft drink bottle stuck neck first into the side of a mole rat mound at about a 45 degree angle. This reinforced my suspicion that mole rats were trying to pull some of the garbage under, and gave us a smile! I was about to suggest a pic of it for fun but husband had already bagged it before I could speak. Of course, we could have stuck it back in and taken a pic but it just wouldn't be the same.

Must be a mole rat holiday today, we found new mounds all over the forest.. esp. along north valley trail and on the west facing hillside of east valley too. Gazelles had also been very active in the orchard earlier.. lots of spoor and many hoofprints between the pistaccios esp. at the east side of the orchard. No sign of either on our walk however.

At dusk caught a brief snatch of song in the acacias up on the bank between buildings and valley road, sounded like European robin? but didn't repeat to my frustration. MUST listen out there again. Song birds like those acacias, we've heard nightingales and blackbirds singing in them, great tits and bulbuls hang out in them and I've seen robins in that vicinity before but this is the first time I would have heard robin song in them and really want to hear it again.

Blackbirds in the forest chaking at dusk, white breasted kingfisher called again from direction of look-out corner, audible all the way from valley road- loud bird! Hooded crows about, feral pigeon flock aloft over neighbourhood buildings, others perched around the roof rails, jackdaw calls heard. Syrian woodpecker calling from pine grove again. Small finches (linnets, greenfinches?) and insect eating birds such as chiffchaffs and redstarts calling hiding out in tops of pines and twittering between.

The other item we collected today was a strange rock on the slopes of east valley which resembles an alien skull from one angle. We'd photographed it long ago for fun but left it there. It was a curiosity and it suddenly dawned on me when I got home it would make a great decoration for my son's iguana terrarium.

Presenting Randall :

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