Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stream-bed flowers, munching tortoise

This is Veronica cymbalaria, also known as Cymbalaria speedwell. Though most speedwells are blue or purple this species is one of the very few pure white ones. This is a member of the figwort family.
both pics: A Atwood.

This little purple job, by contrast, is a member of the geranium family, one of the 'cranesbills', called this because of their long bill-like seedpod. Probably Geranium rotundifolium

The east valley stream bed flows only intermittently in winter- during and just after after heavy rain and not at all in summer. This is because we're so near the watershed and rain falls here generally only from October to April. Between rainfalls there are often little pools left amongst the rocks and the stream bed becomes a thriving bed of vegetation for anything that can grow. I found plenty spring savyon which are like small dandelions, more Nonea and a few more species not familiar to me which we photographed today. There were others but they need to develop more before I can I.D. them.

Hyraxes were very active today by valley road in the boulders and amongst the cypresses. One was sitting on a boulder, reaching up almost balanced on his hindlegs, nibbling at a low branch.

We heard the white breasted kingfisher at dusk today! First time in days. Yes, he's still around! His call seemed to come more from the direction of the cistern today or further west, away from look-out corner. Blackbirds in song, laughing dove coos (in the garden amongst the usual house sparrow chirps), collared dove left the pine by the cistern but silent, but for the clap of wings. Feral pigeons about, as were jackdaws (a flock of well over 100) and hooded crows.

A tortoise today (Testudo graeca) and wide awake this time! I could tell because it was rocking gently from side to side and I could hear it munching though most of its front end was under a pile of brush. Its shell seemed quite mature and about 17 cm long. We found it on the upper parts of a shepherd's trail leading from east valley water course path to the lower slopes of windsurfer hill.

Miscellaneous other calls probably belonging to chiffchaff, black redstart and white wagtail but not definite sightings of these.

Today's range: just under 11 - 18.5 degrees C. another notable upswing! At time of walk, about 4.30 p.m. between 17 & 18 degrees C. Humidity just 27%, winds easterly/south easterly and very light.

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