Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bug season & sharav

Nymph Isophya(savignyi?) (bush cricket) A tiny specimen (~ 1 cm) I found on a thistle leaf amongst some nasturtiums while all the guys were busy with the cave. Isn't he cute?

This pic husband took last thursday in our kitchen, on the shutters by the back porch. It appears to be some kind of brown lacewing type, one of the Neuroptera.

This pic Moshe took inside the cave.. a slender centipede just over 20 cm long.

It's now 'Tu Bishvat' - the 15th day i.e.. full moon of the month of Shvat the 'official' beginning of spring in Israel and the almond trees are beginning to blossom. We customarily celebrate the day by enjoying a variety of fruits, many of them candied.

I could hear a graceful warbler Prinia gracilis for much of the day from somewhere in or near the garden, singing and calling, as well as house sparrows and laughing doves. Blackbirds singing, great tit briefly in song and we heard a great spotted cuckoo again in the pines somewhere north of the central trail. My youngest son, Avremi, was with us today too so we explained how the male of the pair distracts the crows, leading them away on a merry chase while the female sneaks into the nest and lays her egg or eggs.

The most notable first today was a sighting of a SWIFT! Apus Alone and quite high over north valley/valley road north end area. They usually arrive third week of February, I don't ever recall them arriving so early but those southerly winds help! Today is also the first day of the season I've heard the coo of a collared dove Streptopelia decaocto, coming from a pine near the start of valley road. Eurasian sparrowhawk over north valley at dusk. Some Eurasian jays about the forest though quiet, and jackdaws.

On Thursday Moshe found a ground nest of caterpillars (low tent of woven silk) that had yet to hatch by valley road. Today the caterpillars were mostly already about half a centimetres long and all dark.

The boys went down into the boulder pit today to look around. Moshe saw evidence of mortaring on the walls in there and the ground is covered with dust, quite dry. Given the shape of the hill outside this cavity would not fill up with rainwater, it would drain to the sides if it hit the surrounding rocks. His theory is that this little 'room' under the boulder was used for storage in the past, which seems reasonable to me.

While they were down there I just checked out the surrounding hillside for plants. More of the succulent red stuff and a related succulent, very similar but not red with the tiny white petals. More Nonea, lots more Bellevalia, nasturtium and asphodel at its glorious peak. Many thistle leaves developing well, especially milk thistle, but not the flower stalks yet. We also found more star of Bethlehem but seem they close up toward sunset, and more red anemones on the north facing slope of north valley.

Weather: Sunday Feb 8 11.5-just under 18, then fell till just after 6 p.m. then started to rise AGAIN into the evening.. so that now, nearly 9.30 p.m. it's actually *warmer* than it was at the peak of the day (2 p.m. ) Winds had been E/ESE during our walk but now veered SSE and picked up.. afternoon overcast and airborne dust.. I think we've got ourselves our first sharav!
This is a dry southerly desert wind but I never remember getting one so early in the season.
Humidity was about 33% at the time of our walk and has now dropped under 20%

No comments: