Monday, May 12, 2008

Golden Thistle

Golden thistle. Scolymus hispanicus. Found in the open toward east end of north valley.

Temperatures are back on the rise. Today's range: 15-29 degrees C, between 25 and 26 when we left for our walk at about 6.15 p.m. Winds were westerly, approx. 6 kt (though from about 6.30 a.m to 1 p.m. easterlies prevailed) Humidity was just below 30%

Around the buildings: House sparrows very busy around the buildings as usual, no doubt dealing with family issues. White spectacled bulbuls vocal, sunbirds heard calling in alarm. Usual feral pigeon activity, hooded crows and jackdaws about.

Husband has been trying to photograph an owl which inhabits a rock face on a back road between east valley and the centre of the main neighbourhood. Scops I thought though many have been calling it a 'cos' (little owl), does not have the 'jizz' of little owls I've seen before. seems smaller, paler and irises much darker. Pale could just be a regional variation. At any rate it retreated to its little niche, like a tiny cave two thirds the way up the rocks and husband did not want to disturb its home. Hopefully we'll get pictures of it soon.

Ring neck parakeet/s very vocal in eucalyptus along east valley path. That yellow flowering plant by pumping station looks like it might be an Eremostachys of some kind though its buds tantalizingly part closed, it must have already flowered a little this season since some petals had fallen onto the scrub below. Perhaps a very brief flowering. Petals bright yellow with large black spot.

Syrian woodpeckers very vocal, stone curlew calling north end of gazelle field towards sunset, turtle doves cooing from various locations, collared doves active and very vocal, graceful warblers very vocal today also. Blackbird in song at sunset in north valley, bee-eaters, at least a dozen quite high over the hillside to the north. Great spotted cuckoo calls heard in north valley near the valley road turn south, greenfinches very vocal and active in the pines by the bunker and look-out corner. Eurasian jays busy and somewhat vocal. Hooded crow already starting to moult ! Missing both inner secondaries. Perhaps that one isn't breeding this year, or just done- does seem early. Two falcons flying high over east side of east valley. Common swifts about.

Husband has seen agama lizards lately, last couple of days. A son mentioned he saw a skink (a snake like lizard with tiny legs) when he was fighting the fire last week.

Four gazelle seen up on the northern skyline, pretty much together, two adult males and two without horns at all, which really makes me wonder about fluidity in cohesion of bachelor herd with the group of females and young these days. Could be the bachelor herd don't mind the females grazing in their area since they're not really defending it in the way an alpha male servicing the females, defends his territory. Likely the females moved a little to the north to avoid the kids collecting wood. There was some running about going on, could have been the alpha letting the others know not to take liberties.

Fruits of a kind of wild arum, also called 'cuckoo pint', a peculiar plant which attracts flies for pollination by smelling slightly of rotting flesh. Several were found out in the open in the hills to the north, this one growing up between two limestone boulders. Fruit NOT edible! May 8

No comments: