Monday, May 5, 2008

Pleasant day

Leaves of the delicate tree by the 'secret valley' , Acacia tortilis or similar. Some of the fire damage is visible behind. Most of the leaves have turned yellowish brown , these were some of the few we found still green.

Detail of a larger acacia growing by the dry watercourse of 'secret valley'

Range today: 15-26 degrees C. When we headed down to the valley, a little after 6.30 p.m., temp was just under 25 degrees C, nice and pleasant. Wind under 3 kt, westerly. Skeins of detached small fleecy clouds heading across the sky towards sunset.

A number of common swifts were catching flying insects over valley road, some flying very close to us and wheeling around like bats. As we headed down central trail we heard plenty activity: Eurasian jays foraging, some vocal, Syrian woodpeckers, collared doves. A shrill broken call of some raptor sounded a little to the north and we saw three falcons take flight, hobbies as far as we could tell. No doubt the breeding pair was having an interloper in the territory.

Another fire had been set under the pines in east valley, many square metres charred. A fire truck was there and some local boys were assisting, including two of our sons. (We have already instructed our boys about the necessity to avoid smoke inhalation.) Thankfully it was already well under control, just smoking in places. I should add these stupid fires happen every season and the next year there's barely a sign of them. There's a scorched patch near the cistern about three weeks old and already grass shoots are popping up through the charcoal even though growing season is pretty much over. Life will not be suppressed.

Greenfinches sang lustily in the pines over our heads as we stopped for a 'cistern watch' . We saw Turtle doves, collared doves and Eurasian jays visited for a drink and a hoopoe was seen up in a tall cypress just across the trail from the cistern. Turtle doves and collared doves were also heard cooing and blackbird song towards dusk. Stone curlew was heard and another one seen in flight over gazelle field. No gazelles today though. Bee-eaters were in flight over north valley quite high and calling, hard to tell how many at the distance they flew.

Feral pigeons, house sparrows, laughing doves, hooded crows active around as usual, Jackdaws were quite vocal today, heard from the house as well as white spectacled bulbul and sunbird- quite distracting when I'm at the P.C. and there's a gorgeous iridescent male sunbird barely four feet to my left, calling as if he wants me to look at him.

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