Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cooler weekend

Green toad Bufo viridis, in the cistern. A few 'water boatmen' Notonecta also visible.

Daucus carota, wild form of our familiar carrot.. (also known as Queen Anne's lace) many flowering heads out now. We plan to dig up a few just to see how well their roots resemble carrots.. perhaps prepare something. Hemlock is somewhat similar so one has to be careful with ID!

26th April, Saturday

Temperatures have dropped a lot today relative to those earlier this week, just 15-26 degrees C and dropping further on Saturday night to 12 degrees C as potential rain clouds blew in from the west, (there was a little rain before dawn on Sunday) wind picked up and humidity rose to 90%.

Much of the day the garden was active with calls of house sparrows, white spectacled bulbuls, sunbirds and the coos of laughing doves. A Buteo was spotted high over the valley. Feral pigeons, Hooded crows, jackdaws all heard and/or seen and active.

On our walk a group of about a dozen bee-eaters was sighted flying quite high and calling musically, roughly over the secret valley at about sunset. Swifts heard soon after over east field. Great tits quite active and vocal today and a call that sounded to me like that of a juvenile came from low down in a pine just off valley road.

Collared doves cooing in the valley as well as turtle dove from its usual eucalyptus just across the path from the orchard. Stone curlew calls at about sunset. Two falcons sighted over the valley a little earlier, not together, probably hobbies, not a great view but grey backs. Graceful warblers vocal, blackbirds active and singing. Greenfinches also active and calling and twittering a lot.

Scans for gazelle in gazelle field, north slopes and east field not successful today.. they could be over in the olive grove valley or up north valley to the north west. Rock hyrax, however, were very active and numerous today at and just after sunset, scavenging on the bank between valley road and the buildings. At our approach many scampered down across the road to their preferred boulder refuges. Mostly adults and well grown young, no kits yet.

Checking the cisterns, still green toads in there, including one rather inflated looking individual in the larger cistern. He was floating like a buoy and looked quite alive and we wondered why he'd blown himself up like that, was he sick? A couple of Eurasian jays had been at the cistern a short while earlier.. it's possible he'd inflated himself up deliberately to 'threaten' them with his larger size and dissuade them from attacking him. I'd heard of toads doing this on the land but not in water. As we watched he appeared to very slowly deflate but as it was starting to get dark we had to leave.

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