Saturday, June 13, 2009

Flowers and critters of June

For all hyrax fans.. another of the shots husband took recently. Again, right by valley road. They are amazingly vocal, a wide repertoire of barks and almost bird like calls. Today we heard and saw an individual on the slopes up west of the pumping station crying a shrill repeated almost falcon like 'chrrruuuu!' which galvanized all those around him 'outdoors' to scurry for cover under the boulders. A number from the cypress slum colony were active towards sunset today on boulders down from valley road on the pine side, including one parent and at least a couple of young, as well as lots of the pumphouse colony foraging at large till the 'senty' called the alarm.

Globe thistle is blooming all over the place now so here's a close up I made from one of last season's pics.
Above, Polygonum equisetiforme, Horsetail knotweed, blooming in many places now by valley road. Below, another flower blooming again now near the capers is what I call ''mat mint", a very low lying mint like plant with tiny leaves and flowers that spreads like mats on the ground and in the open. This is magnified, leaves and flowers are barely half a centimetre across.

Another shot of that mantis I found on the hillside last week, this time, the whole body.

Gazelle: We didn't see any gazelle this afternoon but husband saw a female just down from the north bend of valley road this morning.

Bee-eaters: About two dozen flew over the house on friday afternoon to the delight of family members. This afternoon (saturday) we heard them continuously somewhere over gazelle field/ north valley but did not see the group well enough to get a count.
Swift: husband noticed some in the morning. None heard on our afternoon walk.
Turtle doves: heard cooing by valley road near the hyrax colonies.
Young great spotted cuckoos heard calling north of central trail somewhere. I checked the ground under the hooded crow eucalyptus roost and found no signs of cuckoo feathers so hopefully the cuckoo who flew into that ''dragon's den" survived.
Hoopoe: flew into the rubble pines, flying from cistern area.
Blackbirds: song in the pines for much of our walk
Collared doves: Coos and general activity many parts of the woods.
Eurasian Jays: Calls and flying between trees in many parts of the woods.
Feral pigeons: Seen flying about.
Graceful warblers: Very vocal by valley road as usual.
Greenfinches: Plenty twittering, chawing many parts of the woods, especially look out corner, rubble area, pines west of gazelle field where some alarm calls heard. Also heard in cypress next door's garden.
Jackdaws: Flock of 30+ flew over us as we walkedalong east valley trail towards orchard.
Hooded crows: Numbers about, some vocal.
House sparrows:Around buildings, valley road, a group like dustbathing lately on a dirt trail down from Shadiker
Laughing doves: Around buildings as usual
Stone curlews: Calls from fields east of Pistacio orchard, one of birds we could hear flew over gazelle field to north slopes.
Syrian woodpeckers: Heard several times on our walk this afternoon, husband saw one this morning
White spectacled Bulbuls: calls from bank up from valley road. In the garden and with sunbird on friday.
Tristram's grackle whistle heard over east valley.

Weather: today's range 20-30 degrees C - time of walk: ~6.45 p.m. 27 degrees C, humidity: ~40%, WSW/W/NW 4-8 knots

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