Monday, July 13, 2009

Gazelle, Grackles and grasshoppers

Hillside trail linking lowest north eastern extremity of the neighbourhood with the north valley dirt road. This is area we saw nightjar last season. Tree up on left is Tree tobacco, in bloom.

Rectangular basin cut out of the stone, drainage lip and deeper rounded basin now overgrown but appears cut by man and may have been used as olive press or perhaps small threshing floor long ago. This on the hillside up from north valley watercourse not far up from bat cave.

Yet another grasshopper.. they are just everywhere amongst the chaff! I took a pic of yet another species on a thorny burnet, a long slim variety but pic not satisfactory, sadly. Shows the range about now, hard to know if numerous species or much individual variation in a few.

Below, a thistle type plant with ants visiting the florets. There is also quite a bit of new growth in the open amongst the rough remains of the spring. One appears to be another type of Eryngium but green, with no trace of bluish, but heads look similar though longer buds. I took a pic but want to get a clearer one. Another spiny shrub in gazelle field just down from the shaft bore small white star like flowers along its length. I took pics but very unsatisfactory and that I also want to repeat. In all, an assortment of new green is pushing up through the brown and gold, mostly thorny plants adapted to the harsher weather of summer. We checked on the snapdragon clump by the field east water course .. still a few last latest blooms on it.

Acacia seedpods bursting open showing pill like seeds, black, flattish and roughly rectangular in shape with rounded edges.

Gazelle: 5 grazing middle of hillslope just east of the pine hangar, all females and well grown young. Several piles of scat various places on the south facing hillslopes in small flattish areas around trees west of bat cave.

Reptiles: Lizard scampered into the depths of a thorny burnet, then I completely lost sight of it unfortunately.

Pair of Tristram's grackles seen foraging on the ground near the north valley watercourse.. as noticed before the female seems much more vocal with the whistle, (tuu-ee-oo!) she has the greyer head. First time I've seen them on the ground in the area away from the quarry.

Bee-eaters: calling throughout our walk, small flock high over north valley flying to and fro hawking aerial insects.
Hobbies: calls in trees near the shaft as it became dark.
Turtle doves: coos in pines on hillslopes across north valley.
Collared doves: coos, flight calls, foraging on the ground, active between trees.
Eurasian Jays: some calls, foraging on the ground, active between trees. One in an acacia was alarming a great tit calling alarm repeatedly, possibly was rearing another brood deep in there.
Feral pigeons: In flight overhead here and there
Graceful warblers: calls, active and vocal near valley road. Interestingly not so many greenfinches noticed in the pines of north valley, they tend to concentrate in the lowest altitude flattest part of pines and around look-out corner.
Jackdaws: flock calls heard,
Hooded crows: calls heard, some seen over in flight.
House sparrows:calls heard around buildings as usual, as were Laughing doves & seen foraging on the ground:
Stone curlews: calls in the fields after sunset.
Sunbirds: brief tic tic calls in garden, Syrian woodpeckers: some calls.
White spectacled Bulbuls:calls in garden and north valley acacias.

Weather: 19-31 degrees C. ( 66.2- 87.8 degrees F)
Time of walk: ~6.45 p.m. ~27 degrees C ( 80.6 degrees F), humidity: ~40%, winds westerly 6-10 knots

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