Sunday, March 30, 2008

Captain Jack, Wattle trees and a lost spider

A kind of mallow.. (Alcea?) the blooms are flush the the ground and the leaves splay out and up from the centre.

Wattle tree 'pompoms' by the western edge of gazelle field. The pompoms were much denser on the tree by valley road but I like the cascade perspective effect on this one.

Winds westerly, wnwesterly bringing in patchy cumulus. At midday a brief shower with thunder, lightning and some hail.

In the garden most of the day plenty house sparrow chatter, I'm sure they're setting up a nest very close to my window. A sunbird was calling in the Bauhinia much of the day, played hide and seek with me amongst the leaves but did get glimpses, nice male. White spectacled bulbuls calling around dusk and Senegal doves cooing much of the day.

Our clocks have changed now, sunset just after 7 p.m. our walk now leaves at about 6 p.m. At that time temp. was 15.7 degrees C (just over 60 degrees F), humidity ~75%, wind~ 16 kt

We got some nice shots of wattle trees, (an acacia) of the two growing at the west side of gazelle field and the gorgeous dense tree by the corner of valley road. On our short cut down to valley road we also took some nice pics of purple milk thistle flowers a handsome mallow plant and a campion like deep purple flower very similar to but darker than the British Ragged robin, Lychnis. Looking at the sepals it actually looks like a composite but with relatively few petals, like a very small cornflower type bloom. Two of these struck our interest for different reasons, one, because it appeared to have not one but two stigmata and the other, because it had a small brilliant yellow crab spider on the underside of the bloom. It was amusing because there was a yellow composite not far away and it seemed if the spider wanted camouflage it had wondered onto the wrong flower!

Gazelles: adult male grazing not far from a female part way up the hill slope to the north of gazelle field.

Bee-eaters: 'dainty dozen' hunting pretty much as yesterday, same area, assumed same birds.

'Captain Jack' (Eurasian) Sparrowhawk, two nice sightings, swept in from hunting over the north ridge somewhere at about 10 minutes before sunset, returning towards east valley at a nice glide. As we returned that way we saw 'him' airborne again for a brief sweep over the south end of gazelle field.

Just after that time betw 20-30 hooded crows were also returning from northern forage to roost, seemed that the dispersed breeding pairs were calling to them, exchanging 'news' , lots of cawings and 'grrokings' around sunset. Graceful warblers, swifts calling about sunset

More calls and twitters of greenfinches, much jay activity and calls, calls of Syrian woodpeckers, alarm calls and some blackbird song about dusk in various parts of the pinewoods, coos and calls of collared doves most of the time we were there.

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