Monday, June 9, 2008

Morning garden.

Another gorgeous shot by Ruthie Schueler. Our 'national' hoopoe.

By 5.20 a.m. had already heard the first four birds through the window(house sparrows, hooded crow, white spectacled bulbuls and laughing dove but a little later, around 6 a.m. decided to sit in the garden, have a little wine and cake for the Holy Day it was, and see what else I could see.

Feral pigeons on the neighbouring roof and winging about, hoodies also landed there. Plenty house sparrows in the top of the willow and on a power line hawking for flying insects. Not quite such fancy fliers as flycatchers but brief flight from perch, grab attempt in flight, then return to perch. There are a lot of flying ants around, maybe they're after them. Three falcons over Hizmeh or a little nearer, perhaps another one, winging around, hard to tell. A couple of 'dive bomb' encounters, easily dodged. Monotonous 'oo oo oo' most of the time I was out there, from a hoopoe not far off somewhere over to the east. Stone curlew calls way over to the east briefly. Blackbird in a garden not far off.

Temp. reached just over 93 degrees F today, (34 degrees C)

Heading down to the valley later, turtle dove calls, two gazelle spotted up the slopes to the east of the dry watercourse path, close to the tree line. (gazelle also spotted in the pistaccio orchard last thursday). Plenty hyrax activity just after 7 p.m. in cypress slum area, though pretty much all adults. Quite a few lounging about on boulders and disinclined to move, allowing closer than usual approach. Must be the heat. Some long harsh barks heard.

Ring necked parakeet noticed in pines on bank by valley road, graceful warblers same area. Swifts over our buildings, bee-eaters somewhere in the valley, Buteo over north ridge, stone curlew calls from the fields, Eurasian jays in the pines, some blackbird song.

This evening close to about 10.30 p.m. heard geckoes from the pumping station. Usually I don't look for them since they're generally undercover but in this case two were out in the open by the sign on the pumping station building, nice size and gorgeously marked, one fat mamma, quite dark with short tail, must have lost it and regrowing. Would have been camouflaged on a tree bark but on the light Jerusalem stone I could even make out the round toe pads very easily. The other one was a lot paler and smaller and might have missed it entirely if I hadn't already seen the first. This one walked up and right OVER the dark one, which didn't seem to mind, and then took position just under the edge of the sign.

Found a blooming Squirting cucumber Ecballium elaterium (or similar) near the beginning of valley road. I was delighted to see this confirmation this is their season , since this is the plant whose leaves I'd mistaken for Alcea in the charred ground after the May 6th fire and later suspected they were this. I should have guessed Alcea would not come up again this year but early leaves did look very similar. Globe thistle has bloomed nicely near the pumping station, flowers packed with a rusty red beetle. Capers and Eremostachys still in bloom. Bats near the crossroads on central trail just after dark.

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