Monday, May 11, 2009

Holy orchid, batman!

This is my favourite find today. We were trying to find the purple buds but without success.. we had not fixed the place well in our minds but it was worth that error to find the beautiful plant above. An orchid I had not seen before and standing quite tall for an orchid.. and I had no idea any would be still blooming as all the other species we've noticed this spring have finished their season. It most matches Orchis sancta , the sacred orchid which blooms at this time in this region, all checks out though the flowers on the onsite pic did look a little different, were edged in white but form the same pretty much. Look at those lower petals, they resemble a bird in flight!

We didn't want to give up on the purple buds though and it was clear they were not those of the orchid but though we both took time to look further search proved fruitless, light was falling and the family would be waiting for us.. we would have to continue that another day. Besides, I had scores of about half a dozen different kinds of thorn, spine and burr in my socks. At this time in the season almost every plant in several tiers from ground up has barbed seeds which catch onto passersby and sometimes seem to be deliberately burrowing into your lower legs if you let them stay in your socks long enough. I have to stop every now and again to remove the most offensive, I am such a princess! I don't wear sandals yet but good ankle high hiking boots and yet they invade and quite a few thorns will set off a mild histamine reaction. I usually spend quite a bit of time at home picking out everything! Still, it's all worth a little discomfort for an hour or so a day for what we find. If we stay on the tracks this doesn't happen but often it's more fun to leave the trails and head across country and find more new vegetation that way.

This is the second smaller species of poppy I had been noticing lately. (smaller than P. subpiriforme we had photographed earlier in the season) Not sure what species, Papaver argemone? or another Papaver. Lacks obvious black petal base spots.

One of the local ladybird beetles, and below that, a larva on a Syrian thistle, probably also of a kind of ladybird though not necessarily same one. We also noticed a LOT of black aphids on thistles in the area so this is clearly a good time for ladybugs to breed- plenty food for the larvae.

We took a few more pics today which I will probably post at a later date

As I write it's nearly 1.25 a.m. and I hear stone curlews over on the hills to the east, their calls carry all the way to my window.

Adult male gazelle spotted up by the skyline north of north valley watercourse.

Hooded crows about today, nest in treetop close to north valley watercourse had sounds of young, but young what? Cuckoos or crows? They sounded a lot like the sounds we were hearing when 'Crabbe' and 'Goyle' were raising 'Malfoy'. Do young cuckoos sound like young hoodies? Would make sense. We also glimpsed hobbies and heard quite a few scratchy masked shrike calls around us all the way to sunset. Collared doves and turtle doves heard cooing for much of the time, a small flock of bee eaters flying to and fro overhead calling and hawking for insects, common swifts screaming as night began to fall and heading out over east valley toward east field. Eurasian jays and graceful warblers also active, especially latter and vocal.

Weather: today's range 10-20 degrees C. Time of walk, shortly after 6 p.m. ~17 degrees C. Humidity: ~52%, winds westerly to north westerly ~8-10 knots

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