Monday, July 27, 2009

Israeli tumbleweed

The base of the prickly Gundelia plant, (Gundelia tournefortii , also called Tumble Thistle) broken clean from its roots. It took no effort at all to lift it up from the ground, it had already separated at about one inch below ground level. You can see the dimple where it was, long slender leaves radiating out from it. I just lifted the dried plant up an inch or so to show the break. The plant separates from its roots the same way deciduous leaves separate from the tree allowing the whole plant to roll along in the wind and scatter their seeds. Most Gundelias have already blown up from their bases now and are heading out on their cross country journey to propogate their species. These plants fascinate me from their beautiful pineapple shaped flower head of yellow/purple stars (photographed earlier in the season) to their tumbleweed summer habits.

While browsing a flower book I got some insight on those fascinating yellow mystery flowers we photographed some time back, (not the stars, the paired lipped flowers that had yellow versions in the open and orange/purple/yellow versions in the north valley watercourse). I should have guessed from the form that they might be some kind of Scrophulariaceae but now I can zoom in a little more and say they are some kind of toadflax, (a name that doesn't really do justice to these beautiful peculiar little satiny/velvet jobs at all) probably of genus Linaria though I have not yet found a definite match at the online Israel flower site.

Gazelles: Three today: An adult male that was grazing in the pines by the service road, headed out towards the north watercourse and on to the hillside beyond as we walked along the trail. Mother and young up on the ridge north-eastish, grazing together.

Bats seen along central trail frequently lately by us and by Aharon, both towards the end of our regular walk and on night walks.

We didn't get a pic of that hedgehog as we didn't have the camera with us at the time, we don't always remember to take it out for our evening walks. Pity! We did post a hedgehog pic some months back though.

Bird life was rather sparse and quiet today. We did get excellent views of a pair of hobbies in flight over the north valley watercourse/shaft area, one flew over and landed high in a cypress across the valley to the north. Apart from that, a few hooded crows, graceful warbler calls by gazelle field, some collared dove coos and activity the local bird life was keeping a very low profile. We were also on the look out for Prince but even the jays weren't being very obvious today.

In the garden some sunbird calls were heard and white spectacled bulbuls from some time before 5.30 am but I didn't get a time today. House sparrows of course and for a while in the late afternoon lots of calls that suggested bulbuls were feeding another brood. Briefly I heard bee-eaters from over somewhere east at about 6 p.m. Feral pigeons about, and plenty laughing dove coos from early in the day.

btw did I mention the hoopoe Moshe saw on the trail near the cistern on Saturday?

I also heard that Breslover warbler again, singing somewhere up in the cypress grove by east field but deep in there, being furtive, though loud.

Grasshoppers still numerous in the open areas, these are probably what the foraging jackdaws and hooded crows are catching as well as possibly mole crickets and other invertebrates just below the surface.

Bye bye birdie. Prince heading toward the acacia tree yesterday. I wonder if we miss him as much as he misses our lasagna? Or vice versa!

Weather today: range: 23.75- 32 degrees C (74.75 - 89.6 degrees F)

time of walk: ~7 p.m. 27.5 degrees C. ( 81.5 degrees F) (sunset here now is at 7.39 p.m. )

humidity: ~37 %, wind: roughly westerly, 7-9 kt.

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