Thursday, April 10, 2008

Birds, flowers, butterflies

This starry clover like plant is common in the fields now. They look spiny but are actually soft in texture. These were taken by the hidden olive grove.

These mallows are growing everywhere right now. I spotted this crab spider on the eastern edge of the abandoned orchard.

I neglected to mention the presence of a Buteo of some sort quite high over the orchard toward sunset yesterday, couldn't tell what sort, mostly mottled brown, no distinct markings at all, it was being harried by a hooded crow and headed off over the trees south.

Earliest birds today were the usual house sparrows, laughing doves and white spectacled bulbuls but then I heard a peculiar psittacine call in the Bauhinia that pulled me out of bed to investigate. Husband had also heard it and was on his way out the french doors to check. It was a ring necked parakeet which took flight south over the gardens when it noticed him. The Bauhinia is in glorious white bloom and I wondered if they like pollen and nectar too.

At about 6 p.m. skies were mostly clear and weather pleasant, temps peaking at 24 C but already down to 22 on our departure and falling steadily, winds were south westerly having switched from roughly south easterly early in the afternoon, just ~2-6 kt most of the day, picking up in the evening. Humidity had hit a low of 10% about midday but was steadily climbing through the afternoon.

We heard a hobby call somewhere in the forest, blackbirds were active and vocal, some song, common swifts were heard and then a nice flock of bee-eaters came into view, hunting in their usual melodious drifting flocks over east valley, gazelle field and orchard area. They can be tricky to count for sure because they constantly change their relative place in the flock, but certainly in excess of thirty birds today. A smooth dark grey bird with raptor contours flew swiftly over the central path and then up onto a pine branch north of the trail, possibly European cuckoo again and we listened for a while to see if it would call but it did not oblige.

We did get a nice view of a European sparrowhawk some time later over gazelle valley and a brief view of a hobby.

Stone curlews heard from open ground just beyond north edge of woods, possibly disturbed by the hobbies. Great tit calls from orchard. Graceful warblers heard toward dusk.

Again no show of gazelles though we checked the hillslopes to the north, extremities of gazelle field and eastern field.

Butterflies picking up, I noticed a saturnid on our hike to the quarry, quite a few whites and marbled white types are about and today we saw a small preying mantis as well as a crab spider on a mallow bloom.

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