Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Return of the Wasp Moth

My favourite pic of the day, Akiva's shot of a gorgeous wasp moth, Syntomis mestrali. Looking back in the records I notice we saw this species on the 21st of April last year, just one day different! Funny thing is, that was also settled on wild oats, though that was down in gazelle field and this is up on the hill between north valley and the hidden watercourse. Click on it to see the blue hue better. (Back then I gave a ref to Ofir Nir's pic but seems he took it off, that url no longer works, but this pic is much better than the one we managed last year). They hover when they sip nectar a little like a hummingbird hawkmoth but not for so long.

Teucrium capitatum Cat-thyme germander

These were blooming in many places on the hills, some of them growing amongst, even through cushions of thorny burnet. Their tiny white and yellow flowers are like small fleurs de lys and their leaves (of which I must get a separate pic) are frond like, pale green, densely hairy and pungently aromatic. It's a kind of hyssop but not sure which yet though it may be a candidate for the biblical hyssop since those used had to have white flowers, symbolizing purity.

Not sure what this is, anyone? Elli? When I first took this shot I thought the seedpods belonged to the same plant as the yellow flowers but looking at the sepals now the seed pods look like they they're those of Scrophularia peyroni growing alongside.

We also found some 'Maccabee's blood' , (Helichrysum sanguineum) (6th April last year) first I've noticed this season, growing near the trail leading down to north valley, north facing slope. Other plants around.. grasses at peak, I gave a nice green handful to a donkey quartered half way up the hill. Still some cyclamen blooming but mostly Acanthus, Gundelia, clovers, many in seed esp. star clover, many smaller umbellifers. Some of the Israeli thyme has started to bloom blue flowers but most not.

A lot of marbled white butterflies active in the flowers.. (photographed last season though I may include a pic coming sat night) every few steps sent some flying up from the vegetation.

Gazelle.. three adult males spotted north ridge ahead of us, (between gazelle field and the sage vale) . One with slightly smaller horns making more speed to the east.. seemed he was a little intimidated by the other two. A little later we watched a female ascend the hill to the place where the males were heading but then we lost sight of them.

Some white storks still around.. at 8 or so, seen in tops of trees relaxing, occasionally flying around but no notable sunset arrival from the north as had been last week. I wonder if they spread themselves out more or most moved on?

Hobbies very active, at least three individuals over the hill to and fro between north valley and hidden watercourse. Sorting out territories? Eurasian sparrowhawk returned from hill back to forest as darkness fell, as had been seen before. Chukars heard, some bee-eaters about flying quite high. Four swifts over the hillslopes. Eurasian jays heard in the pines of north valley. Graceful warblers active and vocal, Turtle dove heard cooing. Hooded crows about. Buteo sitting up on rock near the top of the hill. Collared doves cooing, three squabbling for a position on top of a cypress.

In the garden: Blackbird in song, house sparrows heard, laughing doves and farther off. Watched a laughing dove jackdaws take off from top of a building fly up quite steeply and then sail down to land on a line very similar to the display flight of the collared dove but without the ascending wind clatter and flight call.

Temps hit 30 degrees C today but by 6 p.m. had cooled off to just under 28 degrees, humidity just 16% , winds northwesterly almost still but had been blowing from the east from about 5.30 a.m to 5 p.m.
Above, yesterday's bee, isn't it cute!?
How about this one and how is it relevant to the Holy Land? Also Akiva's, taken today.

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