Sunday, April 13, 2008

hobby, flowers, butterflies, mole cricket

Oxalis? Taken today, east end of north valley flat area.. we found several stands.

Temps 19-29 degrees C, at 6 p.m. it was still 26.4 degrees C and quite warm. We walked around in the lower part of north valley and secret valley where those streambeds approach gazelle field, and on the south facing slopes just beyond. Humidity down at 19%, winds ENE, betw 1 and 2 knots.

We watched a hobby circle over north valley for a while, nice views! Blackbirds active, graceful warblers heard, night insects already chiming most of the time we were out, collared doves cooing, (laughing doves in the garden, as well as sunbirds)

Bee-eater numbers have stepped up yet again! I noticed them lining up on the power lines crossing north ridge.. they ride in their flocks over the valley and return to those lines to perch. I counted 66 in a (uneven) row and some were still airborne so we have about 70 in the area now if not more. I'd noticed birds perched up there in a row yesterday too but then I couldn't make out what they were from that distance and sometimes collared doves use the lines.. but likely this behaviour yesterday too. Some common swifts also airborne.

House sparrows, some broody feral pigeons, hooded crows,

As we approached gazelle field we noticed a large adult female gazelle make her way alone into the field ahead of us, she seemed to have a very slight limp back right leg. We kept our distance, didn't want to spook her. A little while later we noticed two bucks, no doubt of the bachelor herd, way up on the north ridge on a pile of dirt near the wall. Some time after that we saw two hornless gazelle up on the skyline of the nearer north ridge (between secret valley and the olive glade) , so today altogether at least 4 individuals, probably five if we assume the first female we saw wasn't one of the two latter.

I shall have to get those leather bedouin socks or make some of my own to protect my feet against the prickles on the hill! Some of them cause a slight histamine reaction. Foliage was otherwise gorgeous today.. lots of composites of various kinds, many of them yellow, various yellow headed members of the carrot family, a gorgeous tall purple labiate with leaves that smelled like geranium, and a stand of yellow 5 petalled flowers similar to primrose or Oxalis. Today I decided on a white scabious (which have been out last few weeks in gazelle field and seem to be coming to the end of their season) and those yellow 5 petalled flowers which have just appeared. Many beautiful Pierid butterlies with dark grey patterning, working on ID. possibly Euchloe ausonia (eastern dappled white)

Speaking of insects, my boys have just walked in with a very nice mole cricket Gryllotalpa in a plastic cup! This is one of the favourite foods of the lesser kestrel which breeds in the gables of old buildings in Jerusalem this time of year and commutes to fields where these juicy large insects can be found, to feed its young. (Our pics available on request or google

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