Wednesday, May 6, 2009

#435 Two year birthday and Fox skull

This blog is two years old today! I clearly remember writing my first ever entry back on 6th May 2007 on a baking hot day, talking about cracking pine cones and a flock of bee-eaters amongst other flora and fauna. (I started the blogspot version some time later than the version at funtrivia and entered many entries at once in blogspot to start)

We have learned so much since then, so much we have discovered that we had no idea was there! We stopped to chat with some boys today who said 'I bet you know every bird and every bush here!' and I told him we know quite a bit but that there is always so much more to know, there is so much to discover. I definitely feel a sense of both celebration and gratitude at having arrived at this 'birthday'.

Grisly photo alert, those squeamish and faint of heart may not wish to see:

This young fox skull we found near the north valley watercourse. We took the pic as it lay, then brought it home. The skull is just 12 cm long. Definitely my favourite find of today!

Avremi took this pic a few days ago, one of the larger relatives of the dandelion, (the viper's grass?), the 'clock' was at least 10 cm in diameter. We liked the parabolic arc shape of the seed hairs and of course, had much fun making the little 'parachutes' drift off.

still trying to get a satisfactorally sharp pic of the top of the ''minimum effort dandelion" , the head is so small, just 7-8mm in diameter, the structures on it are tiny. Each yellow floret is quite a bit smaller than a pinhead.

Nigella ciliaris seedpods. You can see now how it got its alternative name of Pinwheel Nigella. We found a lot of these near the north valley watercourse.

Favourite bird sighting today was a masked shrike, Lanius nubicus, a handsome bird, perching on an acacia near the north valley watercourse. We've been hearing their scratchy calls on and off lately and I don't always remember to mention them but this is first good sighting this season. Check out how handsome they are at

Sunbirds (called Tzufit in Hebrew after the hebrew word for nectar, tzuf - in our Bauhinia much of today, not surprising at all since they are blooming. Lovely views of the sapphire iridescent male working the flowers.

Laughing doves, feral pigeons, house sparrows, white spectacled bulbuls also about the gardens and houses as usual. Jackdaws and hooded crows about buildings and valleys. In the woods, collared doves and turtle doves heard, graceful warblers, greenfinches, great tits (more fledgelings) , blackbirds, all vocal and active. Hoopoe spotted a couple of times. 12 bee-eaters over north valley and an indeterminate number of common swifts screaming high over east valley as it was growing dark .

No luck on gazelle, all the boys gathering wood in the forest would probably have made them retreat to the north and west but pile of fresh scat found.

Several small fires , we're sure these were deliberate and not spontaneous. Several of them were up by the top of the 'bbq patches from hell' area so they probably burned the litter we did not reach, some ironic comfort. They also weren't spreading as the ground is still too damp and little dry ground growth where they were. The other across the valley but in a rather bare spot.. we think there some of the boys were trying to make their job of wood gathering easier by trying to burn out the base of old dead trees. We've been working on getting them to take dry, old dead wood (and sick eucalyptuses) rather than green live wood and generally they listen to us and appreciate the help, especially when we show them which wood is best to take. I do think, though, that some of the boys do it because they are just bored and love making fires.

Weather: time of walk: ~6.30 p.m. 15.9 degrees C, humidity 63%, winds westerly 12.2 knots.. clear skies after several days overcast. Today's range: 10- just over 19 degrees C.

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