Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Walk to the Quarry

Today we walked to the abandonned quarry by way of the north valley dirt road.

Much tree tobacco about, now reaching the end of its blooming phase. On many branches as here we found flowers and seedpods together. I opened up a few pods to find what appeared to be one wrinkled brown seed in the centre of each.

Just as I'm thinking there will probably be no more new blooming plants before the rainy season I find another. This just shows the hardiness of the local flora, that it can put forth new growth and flowers even when rain is scarce. This pretty yellow star like flower was found growing in loose spikes on the south side of the trail to the quarry. At the same time some globe thistle, mullein and thyme persist and a few delightful small blue butterflies were noticed along the way, the kind we have already photographed. I'd try to get a sharper pic of the yellow stars soon but we have family outing so that will have to wait till sunday afternoon. Who knows what will be out then? We get what we can each day.

We were quite lucky with mammals today. Hyrax activity (2 colonies today) in the colony below Shadiker, some kids playing at the top accidentally spooked a group of adults and we saw them scamper over the boulders above our position. Later, approaching the quarry we saw a number of youngsters cross our path from the smaller quarry on the south side and head down towards the watercourse.

Approaching the quarry we saw two gazelle ahead of us, one without horns and one with thin ones, so most likely a female and well grown young. A little later we saw eight gazelle heading east along a trail about three quarters the way up the opposite slopes. First two, perhaps female and well grown young or two females followed a few metres behind by an adult male. Perhaps a hundred metres farther back and higher up the slope a group of five, females and well grown young also heading slowly towards the east. We couldn't know if the two we saw earlier were any of these eight or not.

Nice view of a kestrel above us, circling over the quarry area. Feral pigeons had made their home in one of the higher structures of the quarry and were cooing contentedly up on ledges in there- a very nice undisturbed colony with little to fear unless a peregrine falcon would come by. Kestrels would not be interested in them and even hobbies and sparrowhawks, that routinely take smaller birds, would likely leave them alone.

Other birds in the area included graceful warblers, heard now and again, chukar partridges, heard chuckling briefly somewhere on the hillside, and Tristram's grackle whistle which husband noticed coming from the large quarry ahead. A Syrian woodpecker was heard somewhere up ahead and above at the top of the opposite slopes we could hear a rooster and goat bells from A Ram. Jays seen between trees and foraging on the ground and Collared doves heard cooing and seen active. Bee-eaters heard somewhere overhead. No greenfinches along that north valley stretch.

A mystery bird was heard in an overgrown area of mini cliffs and gullies down from and around the pigeon 'lofts'. I had never heard the like before, it was a long clear trill which rose a little at the start and fell at little at the end. We heard it trill several times but were unable to locate it in the foliage or rocks though there were many places it could be hidden. Akiva suggested we ascend to the next level to get a better view of the area but I think this move might have spooked it altogether because we did not see or hear any sign of it then - and it was sunset and time to head back- there would be no moon to light our way once we ran out of sunlight.

Earlier today- mid/late afternoon a sunbird was singing persistently in the Bauhinia for a while but so many large leaves I didn't see him. There was also at least one laughing dove in there. Again I was serenaded by a bulbul first thing in the morning not long before first light.

House sparrows, jackdaws and hooded crows also about and heard numerous times.

Weather: Range: 23 -32 degrees C (73.4- 89.6 degrees C)

Time of walk, approaching 7 p.m. 27 degrees C ( 80.6 degrees C)

humidity ~60%, wind: WSW 6-9 knots.

No comments: