Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Stalking storks

Best we could do without a telephoto and without spooking them, not to mention the rapidly declining light.. enough excuses, you can see them well enough.. three individuals, the third just down to the right.

Purple clover growing in gazelle field not far from the midfield watercourse. Going for slight Monet impressionist effect perhaps? Still pretty and you get the idea:)

Caterpillars have been much fewer lately, no doubt because most are now pupae and going through metamorphosis but I did find this hairy little chap, a variety I hadn't seen before.

Sadly the boys' caterpillars did not thrive,despite all their efforts, and did not successfully transform to chrysalises though some tried.

A thistle/sunflower like composite found near the north valley dirt road. This pic is actually from last year's stock but we did not use it then for some reason. Since it's blooming again now, why not? I.D. ideas?

Today our neighbours, the Goldwassers reported seeing 7 white storks in the valley early in the day. (7 for a secret never to be told? That's the magpie rhyme I know) . This afternoon I soon found one grazing with hooded crows again on the lower hill slopes north of gazelle field, then another not far off . One took flight and headed towards the watercourse on the east side of field and after a while the other flew over and joined it. Then looking back south towards look-out corner husband noticed large birds in the treetops! Storks were using the eucalyptus there, and seemed to be settling down to roost. We snuck up on them along the deeper middle field water channel, now filled with mustard, wild cereals and milk thistle as tall as myself- starting to feel like safari, but we didn't want to spook them as they were settling down. Husband was eyeballing all tree tops around, storks flying from tree to tree around the pistaccio grove- he reckoned ten individuals with confidence and perhaps more scattered in other trees about.

Other birds about.. greenfinch getting quite vocal and active, great tits heard, great spotted cuckoos very active and vocal about the north valley watercourse out in the open. Two together on a dead tree, then one flew down to boulders, raised its tail in strong signal then hopped and flew from boulder to boulder for a while, then flew to woods just west of bat cave. A third bird from cistern area.. possibly also a fourth involved. Is this the same territory dispute we saw in the orchard or is yet a third pair involved? I've no idea how great an area these birds 'claim' as territory.. they clearly don't need to centre it around one particular nest as they will try to 'work' as many hoodie nests as they can and so may have quite large territories.
Happily, European cuckoo still about, calling again close to dusk from somewhere along the east valley watercourse.

House sparrows, laughing doves, blackbirds about buildings and gardens as usual.

Some kind of Sylvia warblers working the almond trees, could not make out which, they concealed themselves very well and I never got a good look at a head, best indicator on these.
Another Buteo, almost all dark, headed up north side north valley

Gazelle: 1 buck noticed up on the skyline to the north. Forgot to mention yesterday three grazing lower slopes north west end of gazelle field, no adult buck.

Husband noticed beautiful butterfly visiting rosemary flowers on the snake path.. from his description sounded like a red admiral, Vanessa atalanta.

I've been trying those wild mustard leaves.. pleasantly nutritious with a wonderful peppery flavour. Found another purple clover with a taller conical top.. not happy with my pics of it, going to try again. Not same species as the other, looks like Trifolium purpureum this time. (Purple clover)

Weather: today's range 9-just over 18 degrees C. Time of walk (6 p.m. ) just over 15 degrees, just 40% humidity, winds W/NW 6-9 kt.

Mystery pic time! Perhaps our last few have been too easy? Honeybee (again!) I.D.d last mystery within an hour as the little crab we photographed last summer. I've no idea what species it is but 'that little crab in Tel Aviv' is good enough for me for a hit!

This literally obscure pic will have you wondering for a few days:) All I'll say is, pay attention to texture, light reflection etc.

STOP PRESS on the stork count: Today Moshe and Aharon found 13 storks (Moshe reckons) foraging in east field as well as a nice buck gazelle. Yesterday Goldwasser found 12 over in that direction, followed by another 6 bringing the total sure count to 18!

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