Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Across north valley

A view up north valley up towards the northwest. Meadow of mustard and red anemones below. You can see up the hill a hangar of pine trees, favoured passing place for gazelle, gives them shelter along the way.

A tiny praying mantis I found on the way down the path towards the valley. These are quite common but have such an alien look close up. Akiva's pic

My pic of ripe thorny burnet berries. Sarcopoterium spinosum, Sira kotzanit in Hebrew Don't they look succulent and good enough to eat? They're edible but rather tart to the tastebuds!

A caterpillar I found on a lily garlic type on the way up the hill. Similar to the presumed 6 spot burnet moth caterpillar but much hairier. By the way, Moshe reports his caterpillars are busy making cocoons and becoming chrysalises!

These purple jobs are still a mystery to me. If anyone can find an I.D. I'd appreciate it! They grow on plants that look like tiny green leafless trees 2 feet high or so, bearing many of these blooms, each barely 1 cm long counting stamens. Since the blooms tend to point downward I had to get on my back and try to focus up for these shots. They are so extraordinary in form I thought it was worth it and would help I.D.!

Read Elli's note in the comments, I think her I.D. is correct. Scrophularia peyronii, a kind of figwort. Thanks again, Elli:)

At least this mystery was resolved! I had at first thought, back when it was in bud, that this was a feral or relative of the garden pea based on the colours and size but I was way out! Moral, never try to guess the final form of a flower from a bud! We found many patches of these beauties up on the hill today and clearly the flower form is totally wrong for pea and not familiar to me. That sent me back to amend my previous blog entries and to my sources to get a proper I.D. Finally I found a satisfactory match: Hairy pink flax with the rather naughty sounding latin name of Linus pubescens. (Pishtah se'irah in Hebrew. Linen is pishtan and this is related to the plant from which we get linen, cultivated in this area for thousands of years )

We set out shortly before 6 p.m. ST , headed down to north valley, continued across the watercourse area then headed up the hill beyond, to the hidden watercourse and surrounds.

Gazelle: three seen ahead of us unless one seen twice, none were adult bucks

Birds: At least 3 big brown jobs, some kind of dark Buteo came in again over from the north and glided down into east valley towards sunset. One perched on a leafless tree near the bat cave for a while, giving a nice view.
Eurasian jays, quite vocal, some making a fuss for a while in the eucalyptus /acacia area of north valley but not sure what about. A hooded crow left the tree most of them were in, and after that they were quiet. Whether it was the hooded or whether all of them were fussing about something else, not clear.
European cuckoo heard not far from the bat cave about sunset. Common swifts aloft. Collared doves about. White spectacled bulbuls active in north valley. Chukar partridges heard chuckling.
In the garden: Sunbird calling a lot, house sparrows, several pairs of laughing doves in the street, blackbird singing on and off all day.

Weather: When we set out, temp was 14.2 degrees C, 68%, north westerlies, winds 4-6 knots, and sunny with scattered cloud. Today's range 7-16 degrees C.

Mystery pic solution for yesterday: Honeybee was right (again!) that it had some connection with lizards. It was actually a pic of the scales under the feet of a kind of gecko. Geckos are quite common in Israel and I welcome them about the house because they catch and eat mosquitoes! Their feet are able to walk on walls, even ceilings by specially adapted scales.

Now for your mystery pic. What the heck is this!? The horror!


Elli said...

Hi Yaar,

Those mystery purple jobs were unknown to me too, but using the Hebrew U flower identifier, I'm pretty sure these are figworts of the genus Scrophularia. This is a genus of medicinal plants that have been used in traditional medicine to treat a whole host of illnesses including tuberculosis, hence the genus name.

This may be Scrophularia peyronii, which I'm guessing from its name, may have been used to treat Peyronie's disease.

Elli said...

It just occurred to me that "peyronii" may be a reference to the curved stamens, which reminded the classifier of Peyronie's Disease, in which case it is a cruel pun!

Worth checking out further...