Monday, June 15, 2009

More north valley discoveries

One of the blues, (Lycaenidae) considerably darker than the blue husband photographed a few days ago. The back was deep iridescent purplish bluish black and the underwings have as you see a brownish background. A darker variant of Polyommatus icarus? I don't see any other species it matches on Rittner's site. This one was fluttering about the thorny burnet and other scrub just off the dirt road to the quarry and posed for me for a while on this stalk though the stalk itself was constantly vibrating in the breeze so I took a number of shots to be sure I had at least one clear one.

Here and there three spot Dianthus are blooming. This also just up from the north valley dirt road and in the shade of some pines. These delicate pinks never seem to bloom in great numbers, just scattered here and there like forgotten handkerchiefs. You can see how it got its name, each petal has three darker pink dots near the base.

Advance warning! Following picture may be too creepy for some!

You asked for it:) This is the head of a snakeskin found by our neighbour Goldwasser. You can see here that they shed everything including the outer layer of the eye. It makes sense this needs to be protective and continuous with the skin since snakes don't blink. The whole snakeskin was at least 1 metre long and the head is about 2.5 cm at widest. Since skin pretty evenly coloured, no tapestry markings at all, I'd say it's of a black whip snake, Coluber jugularis, quite common around here and not particularly dangerous though often quite long and fearsome looking. There are two shorter black snakes in Israel that are deadly but they are found farther south in desert areas near the Dead Sea.

Last of this batch of Hyrax pictures, two good size individuals in the cypress slum area.

Gazelle: No luck today. Hyrax: since we headed straight down into north valley we did not pass the usual colonies and we didn't see activity at the colony down from Shadiker at all.

Bee-eaters: heard calling incessantly and flying up and down over north valley but apparently hawking high today
Hobbies: Saw one pass over the valley
Swifts: Calls Turtle doves: Some coos.
Hoopoe: one found dead by the side of the north valley dirt road, already mostly dried up and unfortunately too long dead to spread out wings, skull partly exposed. Good from the point of view of preservation, we brought it home. I have not yet made photographs, plan to do so tomorrow and will share if anyone is interested. The skull is really quite remarkable, the narrow slightly curved bill measures 5 cm from tip to nostril
Blackbirds: Some song
Collared doves: some coos and seen active about the woods around north valley
Eurasian Jays: a number of calls and seen about the woods as above
Feral pigeons and Graceful warblers: probably, don't recall. We really should take notes along the way so that I avoid forgetting which regulars we've seen. Same applies to greenfinches, jackdaws and the like!
Hooded crows: Seen flying over
House sparrows:chirping in the garden as usual. Laughing doves: another probably. Sunbirds: here a definitely, calling in the Bauhinia outside my window since just before dawn.
White spectacled Bulbuls: also a definitely, in the garden and also near the north valley watercourse. I watched one forage on the ground and take food up into the acacia above where probably young were waiting for it.
I highlight in bold species I definitely remember seeing and hearing. Often I check with husband later what he remembers hearing and seeing.

Weather: 17-29 degrees C. Time of walk: ~6:50 p.m. ~24 degrees, humidity ~60% and rising. winds westerly, 8-12 kt. Now a couple of degrees cooler than last night since these moist westerlies blew in.

No comments: