Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cuckoos and other drama

This landscape was taken at the beginning of winter, it's considerably greener and more colourful now! I had it in stock and wanted to give you an idea of the area and show the contrast.

The same eucalyptus grove today.. compare the colour of the ground! Not just grass but a variety of small plants including clover, pheasant's eye, bee orchids and many others. Click on it for best view.

Today we had a pleasant time roaming under the eucalyptus and cypress by the north valley watercourse. For a stretch the watercourse splits in two with a flat area between and this was rich with flowers today.. a riot of bright yellow mustard and red anemone and much smaller stuff.. beds of blue pimpernel, spreads of pheasants eye scattered like rubies, proud little stands of Carmel bee orchid and a variety of others including this tiny yellow clover like flower.

The above shows the leaves but worth zooming in a bit closer to really appreciate the blooms. The whole set of six blossoms is only about 1 cm across.

There was some brief drama on the ground amongst acacia and pines as two hooded crows viciously attacked a pair of great spotted cuckoos. The cuckoos dodged down to the ground and vanished from there, we don't know where they went but somehow they snuck off. The crows make up for being duped by the young brood parasites by trying to kill any adult they find and we have twice found remains to prove that. The other cuckoo, the European, is still in the area, calling again today about dusk somewhere near the ruins in east valley.

Crows did not intervene, however, when at least four big brown jobs glided down into the area from the north, appearing low over the ridge then sailing down into the east valley pines. Some kind of Buteo?, mostly patchy dark browns without obvious barring. They are probably on passage, on their way from Africa to Europe or central Asia to breed if so, interesting they came in from the north. They must have followed a circuitous route given the wind conditions, climbing over the rift valley on thermals then falling (with style) into our valley towards evening.

Chukar partridges were active and heard chuckling amongst the rocks along north valley, three gazelle spotted on the trail leading up to the pine hangar half way up the south facing slope.. a regular place for them to pass it seems. Females with well grown young, and several metres apart. There were also many hoof marks as well as feral dog prints along the trail we followed on our return, in earth softened by rain. Large smashed tortoise shell.. there was a small fist size rock right near it which made me wonder. Crows sometimes use tools, unless of course a local child was curious about the contents of a perished tortoise but certainly one would make good eating for a crow, but it would take some strength to break one unless enough decay had already set in. Some birds of prey are known to drop tortoises onto rocks.

Laughing dove and feral pigeon active around the buildings, house sparrows, sunbirds and White spectacled bulbuls in the gardens. Syrian woodpecker heard in the valley as well as Eurasian jays and collared doves. Again a shrill complex call at dusk in centre of east valley but whatever it was was concealed by darkening pines, and again I wonder if it's a hobby back, but awaiting confirmation. After that, the stone curlews started up their warbling dusk calls around the outskirts of the forest.

Weather was quite a bit warmer than yesterday: 7.5 to 16 degrees C, At about 5 p.m. start of our walk, ~ 13.5 degrees, 43% humidity, W and NW for most of the afternoon and evening, (the hawks used those north westerlies to ride in) , south westerlies in the morning, (those the hawks would have been using those most of the day to make progress- they know what they're doing, they've had a lot of experience over the eons!)

Leaves of a very nice acacia found half way up on the south facing slopes of north valley. The ground beneath was flat and clear and would make a really nice place to pitch tents.

Mystery pic of the day. Again, you'll want to back up about a metre to see this properly.

Yesterday's mystery pic.. you'll kick yourselves! Remember our local forest is chiefly Aleppo Pine? Yes, old dead pine needles on the ground! Take another look and you'll say, 'of course!' If you look at one of the closest to the ground toward the bottom right you can see where the two needles join at the base.


Anonymous said...

Good point, though sometimes it's hard to arrive to definite conclusions

Anonymous said...

Hi - I am certainly delighted to discover this. great job!