Thursday, May 14, 2009

'Darth Vader' in a hole.

The enchanting caper, Capparis. All parts edible (the flower bud tastes like a peppery brussel sprout) but be careful of the tiny twinned hooked yellow thorns along the stems, a feature that turns a clump of capers into something like a ball of nasty barbed wire. These are the large clumps you see on the Western/Wailing wall.

Probably Maniola telmessia, a middle eastern species of meadow Brown, one of the Satyrid butterflies. This I took on the banks of the east valley watercourse near look-out corner, very obliging of it to sit for a while and pose, most alighted for a couple of seconds at a time. I say probably because the dark double arc on the underwing is not quite the same shape as pics I've seen of M. telmessia, on those the inner arc is much more peaked. The underwing is almost concealing a very pretty 'eye' design on the upper wing.

A marbled white also seen but seems end of season now for them.

This is a zoom up I made of Akiva's pic of a leek flower near the cistern. You can see both sides of the anthers quite well.

This pic Avremi took of a tiny grasshopper sitting on Moshe's hand yesterday.

Today we went pretty much the same route as yesterday but without the boys, though we continued into north valley and walked over to the bat cave briefly.

On the way we returned to a broken tree by the east valley watercourse. The inner wood was exposed and something large and black was occupying a hole about 1 cm diameter. Its front end almost filled the hole like a Darth Vader mask and it had black jointed antennae and occasionally buzzed threateningly. Husband wanted to gently persuade it to leave its hole but it seemed disinclined to leave completely. He left the stick he'd been using propped up against the hole and the insect shoved it away a minute later, quite strong! I've seen huge black hornets use holes in Wadi Qelt and considered it might be one of these, so naturally I was disinclined to anger it if it wished to stay there and perhaps guard its nest. I see nothing like it at Rittner's site.

Some hyrax seen on the rocks just down from valley road, varying sizes.

Hooded crow harassing a Buteo north gazelle field- possibly the Buteo came too close to the crow's nest and it felt threatened. Plenty swifts overhead but no bee eaters today. Tristram's grackles heard several times and one seen flying from neighbourhood east towards windsurfer hill . Blackbirds heard, thin alarm calls and some song, (the thin alarm calls usually means there is a nest or young nearby) calls of Syrian woodpeckers, plenty greenfinch twitters and chaws around the bunker pines and the young forest just west of gazelle field. Collared doves and turtle doves also cooing. Masked shrikes heard again in the acacias around dusk. Eurasian jays and graceful warblers also vocal and active.

Plenty and varied white spectacled bulbul calls in the garden today again, from the sound of it, parents and young family. Sunbirds also heard occasionally, and, of course, house sparrows.

Weather: 13 - 25 degrees C , time of walk about 20 degrees C and falling. Humidity ~55%, winds W/NW 6-12 knots

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