Wednesday, February 25, 2009

#379 Clover and general wild activity

Clover in flower not far from the saplings. Not much of a flower but very obvious male stamens but notice the developing star shapes. Because of these I think it's Star clover, Trifolium stellatum, a charming species we photographed last season in its later star bearing stage.

Today we walked along valley road towards the pump station where we noticed many active hyraxes. For a stretch almost every boulder just down from the road had a hyrax sitting on it, looking up at us. If we just keep walking they stay still, staring, but if we stop they will feel threatened and scamper off. Bat seen not long after sunset.

We headed through the sapling field and on along a trail that leads parallel to and just west of the watercourse. In that area we found the small clover flowering above and, on examining more heads of shepherd's purse, contented myself that they were NOT the same flower that Moshe photographed and that I'd IDd then as Nasturtium officionale. Good! Must find that Nasturtium again though. It was growing more in the shade of the pines while the shepherd's purse likes more open areas apparently.

At look-out corner we headed across gazelle field and stopped to chat about toads to a group of boys playing around the cistern. We see them often, they helped deal with the fires last summer and it's always nice to talk to others who like the forest, for all parties. We continued on towards the bat cave, all the while observing the vegetation and just soaking in the early spring earthiness of the place, the scents of eucalyptus and pine and burgeoning earth. I found a pheasant's eye (almost) in bloom on the bank of the north watercourse where it crosses gazelle field but it was closed, as were a good number of Star of Bethlehem also growing in the area.

When we reached the pines and cypress just north of the north watercourse I headed up the limestone shelves looking out for any other interesting vegetation: red anemone, spurge, Nonea, golden drop, and of course, more asphodel and thorny burnet, as well as the beautiful purple blue cress jobs, and then came upon the curious section of backbone shown below. I really am not sure what it is yet. We photographed it for future reference.

Chaffinch female spotted on top of a cypress, flock of feral pigeon aloft, calling. graceful warblers. Stone curlew calling beautifully from the fields just after dark. Syrian woodpecker call near east valley watercourse. Jackdaws heard calling somewhere over east, hooded crows about as usual, one on top of a cypress near the bat cave, probably has nest nearby.

In our garden sunbird heard calling musically today, white spectacled bulbul also in the gardens.

Wed 26 Feb: At ~4.25 p.m. 12.7 degrees C, (today's range) 7.5-14.5 degrees, winds 8.7 kt NW, humidity 58% and rising, sunny with scattered cumulus

Mysterious backbone found on the hillside just north of the north valley watercourse. Lens cap for comparison. The bone on top, upper right, is a separate larger vertebra that is probably part of the continuation of the right end. I have some ideas but no conclusions. Anyone?

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