Monday, February 9, 2009

The Jawbone cave

Gagea commutata Star of Bethlehem

Leaves spotted like Nonea but pale flower up on south facing hillside, not I.D.d yet..

Another caterpillar of Moshe's. This is what you call 'hairy' ! Also south facing hillslope

Moshe found us a new cave today.. a cave he'd visited with Aharon (his big brother) before and discovered is another roosting place for a small group of bats. It overlooks the olive grove vale on the north facing slope and we'd missed it as we hadn't come down that way before. It's a nice and spacious one and probably was used for living quarters long ago given its look-out potential. We found some bones in there, some ribs, hair and what looks to me like the lower jawbone of a gazelle. Foxes and even the local feral dogs would have too hard a time running down a healthy gazelle but it could have been scavenged.
Around the mouth of the cave were golden drop, and in front a LOT of nettles Urtica which I haven't seen growing anywhere else in the area at all. Could be Roman nettle, would have to see the fruiting bodies. They were heavily chewed so worth looking here for caterpillars since some very interesting species use nettles. (Lots of caterpillars about generally lately )
No maidenhair fern here.

Birds: hooded crows in tops of tall trees, collared doves also.. in one group of cypress just across north valley it seemed both crows and the doves were interested in sites too close to each other, the dove gave way, circled round and took position in a nearby tree. Plenty room for both, just not in the same tree top!

(btw Husband made an interesting observation a pair of hooded crows harassing a Eurasian Jay in a pine tree in another part of the neighbourhood.. the jay was making a very good mewling cat imitation when the crows got close!)

Husband noticed something on the skyline to north which looked odd, turned out to be a large hawk on the ground.. Buteo, one of the long legged? Moshe got close and it glided across the olive tree vale and out of sight on the other side so I didn't get any definite identifying views.

Apart from those.. singing blackbirds, very vocal graceful warblers, the usual house sparrows, feral pigeons. Moshe said he saw a group of swifts this morning as well as a Buteo, possibly the same one we saw.

On the hill slopes we found some Bellevalia, quite a lot of star of Bethlehem, a kind of Euphorbia, (Jerusalem spurge) E. hierosolymitana? or similar, a plant with spotty leaves like those of Nonea but different flowers, and a plant similar to spitting cucumber but leaves shaped like spearheads and flowers yellow/green rather than yellow. No I.D. yet. Will probably post soon.

weather Monday 9 Feb: ~4.30 20.8 degrees C, 21%. WSW 7 knots, overcast.
Today's range 12.5 - just over 24 degrees C.

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