Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Brief quarry visit

Opposite view from yesterday's pic, this one faces back east towards the neighbourhood. A full moon is rising over Hizmeh on the hill ahead. (It's now a new moon, and was up in the western sky as we returned home)

Today we walked to the quarry and made an about turn at sunset as we needed to get back before it got too dark to see the way up the hill. Though we cannot see the sunset from our walks since to the west is uphill the mosques make clear when that occurs as the call to maghrib prayer is at that time. We're Jews, not Moslems, but it is useful to know a little about our neighbour's culture!

These are the excavated structures we found on the hillside just up from that tree with the small green fruits. We first thought they looked like mikvaot (water pools) or perhaps storage cisterns and husband theorized they may have been used as bunkers during a war in the past.

We struck lucky on mammals today: Gazelles: 2, appeared to be a mother and well grown young coming up from the north valley watercourse onto the path. Then husband noticed the shape of a head ahead of us atop a little hill of rocks between us and the quarry. It was a fox, gazing down at us, curious. It stayed there for a couple of minutes before moving off. When I looked back to see where the gazelles were they had gone and when I looked back, so had the fox.

Plenty hyraxes about today in two different colonies.. the ''shruuuu!" alarm call at the colony below the end of Shadiker which we passed on the way down to north valley.. we took the long way down, a barely discernible trail from the end of an alley below and parallel to Shadiker, which parallels the dirt road till it finally joins with it. The other hyrax colony is at a 'field' of boulders to the left of the dirt road just before reaching the quarry- much activity there, adults and youngsters scampering amongst the rocks.

Forgot to mention yesterday saw another blue butterfly and a more colourful one.. only caught a glimpse but looked like a painted lady. Today a couple of whites, most probably the Pontia.

Intense cicada noise heard about sunset today. We just had to stop and listen to the high amazing continuous hum all around us. Later a variety of crickets were calling.

Reptiles: Geckoes heard in the evening. One just now, it's just after 2.15 a.m. as I write.
Bee-eaters: calls heard over north valley during much of the walk. Have the swifts left? Haven't seen or heard any in about a week.
Hobbies: glimpses, flights over the valley a few times. One in a cypress by the quarry.. I took a pic but only silhouette and barely discernible without powerful telephoto. Kestrels in that area too and not easy to tell apart in silhouette when they're quick, have to see the brown/chestnut back of the kestrel to be sure, or the clear hood of the hobby. Kestrels are more likely to land on man made structures whereas hobbies much prefer trees, hence their Hebrew name 'Baz Etzim' - Tree falcon. The Kestrel is 'Baz matzui' which roughly translates as 'common falcon'

Blackbirds: Some song. Chukar partridges: calls from a covey across the watercourse somewhere
Collared doves. Coos. Eurasian Jays: calls and plenty activity throughout the woods
Graceful warblers: calls, Hooded crows, calls
House sparrows:about the buildings chirping as usual. Laughing doves: about the buildings, coos, foraging in pairs
Stone curlews: calls especially just after dark, heard clearly from the house.
Sunbirds: calls in the garden. White spectacled Bulbuls: calls in the garden since before first light.

Whistles of Tristram's grackles at the quarry. I hadn't wanted to turn around before finding them! I'd rather have stayed longer to get a count but time was running out on us.

blooming: thyme, caper, mullein and globe thistle. Golden thistle finishing, still some viper's bugloss about and Inula (ragwort type) sprouting up green in many places. Still waiting to see bloom on that mint like greenery.
Tree tobacco at the quarry also finishing up blooming their strange tubular yellow flowers.

Weather: about 82.5 degrees F at end of our walk, reached about 85 degrees today maximum. Humidity on our return, about 70% with winds in the west more or less.

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