Thursday, April 23, 2009

Beetles and flowers

This pair of beetles was taken by Avremi. Are we looking at male and female with sexual dimorphism? They are very similar though one only has orange shoulders and on the upper individual most of the wing case is coloured. As with all pics, click on them to enlarge.

These we found coming up a densely vegetated bank from gazelle field onto the north valley dirt road.

This beautifully hued flower was found by Avremi half way up the south facing slopes of north valley. We didn't see any others like it anywhere. I think it's Dwarf Chicory, Cichorium pumilum ~3 to 4 cm across

This is also a kind of composite but not sure what it is and seeing the whole plant with inflorescences that never seem to get larger, I think this is about the extent of the petal development. I think I shall dub this 'minimum effort dandelion' but I think the end does deserve a sharper focus to do justice to the tiny florets. The whole flower is less than 1 cm long.

These juicy fat little beetles (each at least 1" long) were, as Moshe put it, very 'buzzy', there were several about in the scrub all vibrating wings and scrambling over each other actively, perhaps a mating frenzy going on there.

These were on the ridge of hill between north valley and the hidden watercourse, not far from the flint rocks and in an area rich also today with marbled white butterflies and another wasp moth which delighted the boys, esp. Avremi.

Today the boys came with us as we wanted to show them some of the plant and insect life we'd found yesterday as well as look out for birds, gazelles or whatever might show. Since the boys are often good at spotting insect life they're always an asset to these trips and Avremi gets really into using the camera. This is just a sample of today's shots.. he was snapping great pics of Bear's breeches, clouded whites and other stuff all over the place.

We also like sampling the smells and tastes of the area.. thyme and germander leaves were a must and Avremi also noticed that cypress leaves also have a wonderful aroma. I ate some mallow seedpods and found them quite mildly nutty and pleasant but the boys weren't so much into that. Mustard leaves seem to get more peppery by the day and we also found that a grass which looks like wild wheat has a garlic clove like bulb at the base though harder and with a milder flavour.

Gazelle.. noticed two up near the ridge , a little farther east of our position, one approached the other and was mildly head butted away.. hadn't seen that before. These looked like gazelle 'teenagers', hardly any horns visible but quite well grown. A third farther north west of them.

Birds: Some white storks about, stone curlews heard after dark in east field. Eurasian jays quite vocal today, as were graceful warblers up by the road. Quite a bit of hobby activity over north valley, a few Buteos seen aloft, bee-eaters heard and seen overhead, common swifts about, distant (prob. black eared) wheatear call on the hill slopes farther east. Hooded crows also about but not jackdaws today. Feral pigeons aloft. Masked shrike like call heard near the north valley track but not seen.

Garden: White spectacled bulbul in the Bauhinia at dawn, sunbirds calling, blackbird singing in the afternoon, laughing doves cooing and of course, house sparrows.

Weather: Temps dropped considerably since yesterday and sky overcast when we set out. Last night wind was up and a little rain and thunder wee small hours. Today's range: just over 11 degrees to ~20 degrees C, time of walk, ~6.15 p.m. down to 16 degrees and falling, humidity 65%, winds westerly and about 11kt.

Yesterday's mystery pic was indeed a donkey stripe, identified by Garry. My apologies, I have not had time to find a mystery pic today, yet, I may add one before Shabbat.

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