Monday, April 21, 2008

Kites and Wasp moths

Wasp moth (Syntomis mestralii ) on wild oats. Also check out Nir Ofir's pic ref'd below.

Gundelia in flower.. Also A.Atwood CC

April 20/21st

Temp range today: 17-30 degrees C. When we went out.. just after 6.20 p.m. , temp had fallen to ~26.5 degres C, humidity ~19%, wind NW ~3kt.

Two gazelle up on skyline north ridge.

Insect of the day was a wasp moth, Syntomis mestralii , a rather fearsome looking extraordinary insect I'd never seen before. Several were on the wing about sunset where the south end of gazelle field meets central trail. The wings were jet black with 'windows' of pale yellow, the body was metallic blue black with two orange bands, one at about wing level, one further down the rather long abdomen. Wingspan ~7 cm, length ~6cm. for a very nice image taken by Nir Ofir on Mount Gilboa. This doesn't show the blue tint of the body but the only pic we managed to take which really did convey that hue unfortunately lacked focus. We took a few clear images which I thought boring compared to Nir's but I do rather like this shot on the wild oats.

Bird of the day was Black kite.. Milvus migrans. We were amazed to see a very stretched out procession of 12 of them flying from the north over A Ram and heading south east toward Hizmeh. They flew over in small groups of two or three or singly. Then nine of them circled lazily in the direction of Hizmeh approximately over east field as the light was fading. I've never seen so many Black kite over the area before- most I've ever seen at once here was four individuals last summer.

Plant of the day was a beautiful flowering Gundelia, all the more delightful to see since some young mischievous arsonists had burnt all the ground round about, laying waste patches of woodland here and there, (including the place where we found the Ophrys and other orchids, so I hope some underground part of those orchids survived) - The Gundelia stood here and there on the parched ground, apparently unscathed. Perhaps because of its partially succulent nature it was just too moist to catch fire.

This morning and yesterday morning a ring necked parakeet visited the garden.. 7.30 a.m. yesterday, ~ 7 a.m. today on top of the willow. Not the same individual as "Squeaker", this one had a complete tail. We also saw one in the pines on the bank between our street and valley road both today and yesterday late afternoon.

Sunbird/s very active in the Bauhinia both days. White spectacled bulbuls heard in gardens and down from valley road. Laughing doves in the garden, around the street. Collared doves active and cooing and flight calling in the valley. More turtle doves have arrived.. (more heard in the new pines east end of north valley). Great tits vocal and active in the pines, greenfinches in song approaching sunset, as were some blackbirds. Graceful warblers foraging, active, calling. Syrian woodpecker calls. Two great spotted cuckoos seen in the top of a pine near east end of north valley, vocal. Hobby over gazelle field. Chukar partridges heard from somewhere along north valley. Bee-eaters heard, a couple seen. A number of common swifts hawking for bugs over the trail from central path to north valley around sunset. (Plenty insects on the wing). Stone curlews also vocal around sunset.

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