Tuesday, March 3, 2009

First cuckoo

Bud of one of the buttercups, Ranunculus. Found and taken by Moshe yesterday on windsurfer hill, just at the start of the trees.

Also Moshe's, a bloom of one of the vetches Lathyrus? Vicia? related climbing all over the burnets in the lower part of windsurfer hill, west face. The other is a beautiful salmon colour, a pic of which taken by husband is in the archives for last season

Today we headed down to the north valley trail, and across the watercourse toward the limestone shelves where we saw the backbones, just west of the bat cave.

Evidence #3: Greenbottle blowfly, Lucilia, on a dead stalk of Horehound, Marrubium. The fly caught my eye because of it's brilliant blue and green brassy sheen but there's more to it. This was the area where we found the backbones and these flies breed on dead animals. (there's a bit of forensic entomology for ya!:) ) More indication the hunter is active in the area. We looked around the area but found no other remains, of course could be hidden under bush or rock.

Marrubium is also interesting in being the only plant to my knowledge that has a scientific name based not on a latin or greek root but a Hebrew one. Mar = 'bitter' in Hebrew, and this plant has a bitter tasting sap. We photographed the flower last season, a white peculiar shaped bloom on spikes growing amongst many of the rocks around the bat cave, but did not reach an I.D. back then.

First European cuckoo Cuculus canorus heard today! In the trees just west of the bat cave just after sunset, and then again in the new pine grove just west of gazelle field. May have been second bird given the times we heard them, or it was moving around a lot.

Other birds: A buzzard, Buteo, possibly a long legged, came down to the ground amongst the eucalyptus by the north valley watercourse. It was immediately harassed by a hooded crow that probably has a breeding territory close by, and took off toward gazelle field.

Eurasian jays active, blackbirds in song, stone curlews very vocal and active just after dark, briefly accompanying that cuckoo, which was particularly beautiful to hear. Chukar partridges heard chuckling earlier.

Two gazelle, apparently female, making their way at a leisurely pace north up the lower hill slopes. As they will often do, they stopped to graze every few paces along the way.

Some more Hebrew names for you: The extraordinary stone curlew mentioned many times here is Cairvan, a name that somehow sounds very Welsh to me. The chukar partridge is called 'Hogla, (gutteral 'h ) a name which always makes me smile because it is also a popular brand of baby diaper! The crow is called 'Orev , the pronunciation is tricky.. it's a gutteral vowel said in the back of the mouth so if you pronounce it right you might actually sound like one :)

3rd March. Temp. 10.4 degrees C (range today 7-11) , humidity 74%, winds westerly, sky clear

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