Thursday, April 9, 2009

Yet more storks

The orchard looks so lovely at this time of year!

The Gundelia is blooming again in many open areas on hill and valley, a ball like flower on a short stalk with a rosette of prickly leaves. I posted a whole pic of it last season but here I give a close up detail of the florets.

Paronychia argentea, called Silver nailroot, or Silvery Whitlow Wort.. quite a common ground plant by the wayside.

After the tip from Moshe and Aharon we decided to check out east field. We circled round, taking the east valley dirt road and from there walked up a shepherd's trail up onto the lower slopes of windsurfer hill. From there we could look down over the fields by the olive grove long before they'd be aware of us. Several white storks were indeed foraging down there and were soon joined by storks right ahead of us over the nearest ridge until there were 11 down there. We made our way down to the cistern area to see 5 circling overhead to the admiration of a group of neighbours who had come down for a walk. Other individuals were scattered over the fields and hillslopes to the north. Towards sunset more storks sailed over the ridge north of us and headed towards look-out corner. Three headed up north valley and perched on a eucalyptus but by the time we made it back to our street we could count 20 in east field just beyond the pistaccio grove with two more arriving. At that point, about quarter to 7, the storks started to move to the eucalyptus to roost and began to confuse our count but we finished at a definite 26 individuals including those in north valley, and perhaps more to arrive from the north.. they'd probably been foraging in the sage/olive grove to the north. We need to check out the vale again soon.

Other birds: Sunbird active in the garden, melodious and squeak alarm calls, laughing dove coos, house sparrows. Hooded crows and jackdaws foraging busily around bat cave area.. I wonder what they're finding? bee-eaters heard around sunset, male black-eared wheatear noticed on a rock up the hill, pair of cuckoos noisy and active between acacias by open north valley watercourse and cistern area, stone curlew after dark. Glimpses of sparrowhawks. Collared doves active and cooing.

Male gazelle following female up on the hill, she was looking a little skittish about his behaviour. A third gazelle on south facing slope farther up north valley.

Mystery solved? Pretty yellow flowers in bloom again on the north hillside (pic. back at #196). At the time I'd speculated they were Oxalis though not been happy about that since Oxalis flower colour much more intense and, as we've seen since, leaves totally wrong. These were simple, longer than wide compared to shamrock style Oxalis leaves. Husband noticed flower form was similar to those of the hairy pink flax growing nearby so later when home, looked up other members of the genus. Common flax, Linum nodiflorum (??) does indeed have yellow flowers but pic of these also seems too intense yellow and leaves seem considerably larger than those we found in the field, unless of course, it's yet another variation.

We also found plenty more Acanthus, white garlic/lily types, more dardarit, and cyclamen still blooming.

Weather: Just below 9 to just below 14 degrees C. Walk: we set off about 4 p.m. today, , temp nearly 13.5 degrees, humidity just over 75%, wind, W/NW 6-10 kt.

Sorry, time's up and the answer is revealed:) It is a close up of the back of this handsome scorpion, caught (with great care, it's loaded!) photographed and released last summer.

Here are the 'scores' so far.. Honeybee in the lead with 4.5; Elli 3 (for solving some of my botanical mysteries!) Garry 2.5, Lesley 1.5, Verronika 1 and Bobcat and Jordandog 0.5 each and my apologies if anyone does not feel I gave them enough credit.. rating the guesses is tricky and I may have missed a 0.5 here and there. Who was it who solved the pistaccio mystery? she should get another point.

And now for today's mystery! I have not posted it before but I HAVE mentioned it. It is a favourite prey of lesser kestrels and probably the white storks would enjoy it too! Moshe said it nipped him, but he's not sure which end! Found last year. It's about 2-3" long or more. Juicy!

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