Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hill side delights

This beautifully coloured pink flower was blooming in one small patch on the south facing hillside, flower already folded up for the night or just not yet fully opened? I had at first thought pea but later form proved different.

This one I do believe actually IS a six spot burnet moth caterpillar Zygaena sp. only one I've seen of it's kind and striking compared with the others.

There were plenty of those hairy caterpillars getting bigger, some about 3" and on a variety of food plants, rows of red and orange hairs but so far still don't know what they are. We plan to take containers tomorrow so we can bring some home and satisfy our curiosity hopefully.

Ajuga chamaepytis, also called ground Pine or Chian bugle. This fascinating little succulent like plant was growing on the east facing side of the hill and is the first bloom I've seen of this species this season though we did find it in many locations last season. It's a member of Lamiaceae, which includes the mints but I did not test it for fragrance.. I will next time!

One of the blues, (Lycaenidae). It was so still on the twig I almost walked past it, taking it for a leaf and did a double take! Seems to match best Cyanochiris antiochena but don't take my word for it! The markings on the wings can be quite confusing in that family, many self similar members. It doesn't have the extent of orange markings that the common blue has but these things are subject to much variation. All photos today by husband.

Today we headed up the hill just north of north gazelle field, taking note of vegetation along the way, always on the look out for new blooms! Also listening for larks, wheatears or whatever might be heard. Neither of those seemed to be about but we did startle a pair of chukar partridges, and heard jackdaws. Collared doves were cooing back in the pines, flight display call heard and brief call of great spotted cuckoo. Great tits and graceful warblers also heard. Hooded crows also about, a couple foraging on the hillside not far from us, individuals winging home.

Two gazelle seen ahead of us, up higher near the top of the hill making their way up and over, one with small horns.. young male.

Weather: ~8-17.5 Time of walk, approaching 5 p.m. 15 degrees and falling, humidity just above 75%, winds mainly westerly veering occasionally towards the south, breezy but not so strong.

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