Sunday, August 2, 2009

August hillsides

A view from the top of windsurfer hill looking north eastish. The settlement of Adam is on the distant hilltop ahead, Hizmeh over on the hilltop to the right, part of Mir Forest down to the left, the small olive and almond grove dead centre, Ramallah bypass road winds northward from the right with the security road and fences parallel and just below dividing political zones.

In the foreground, limestone rocks, thorny burnet, thyme, mullein and other hill vegetation.

An adult variegated caper bug on a small caper leaf. Most of the caper bushes have shed their leaves now, both leaves and stems damaged by the bugs and on a few there were some bugs remaining, such as this individual above.

As we walked down valley road we noticed the hoodies were windsurfing so we decided to go straight up the hill after the bridge by the pumping station to see if we could get close enough to get some shots that really conveyed this behaviour. There was also a flock of jackdaws foraging on the hillside, taking to the air now and again and generally getting in the way. Jackdaws plus hooded crows amounted to well over a hundred individuals, not the place to be if Alfred Hitchcock's movie freaked you out but not really any threat. We did observe some nice windsurfing by the hoodies.. for some reason jackdaws aren't interested in the sport. The crows also seemed to indulge in mock aerial duels, diving at each other or perhaps just showing off. A falcon flew through the milling flocks and not a one bothered to harass it, partly because they knew they had no chance and also because they did not compete directly. A falcon cut right in front of us as we were about to head down so I saw it quite close.. looked more like a peregrine than a hobby but only saw for fraction of a second unfortunately.

We took a route around the south side of windsurfer hill, a shallow saddle between the hill peak and Pisgat Ze'ev villa hill, and followed a trail to the top where we startled a gazelle (no visible horns) which sproinged over the top and out of view. It did a good job of getting away as we were unable to discover it on the other side. There the dirt road down is treacherous, strewn with many tiny stones and steep enough that a slide on those stones can easily land you on your behind! I much prefer to pick my way around the thorny burnet off the track.

Blackbird alarm chakking heard.. also heard by husband early saturday morning but no singing lately at all. Syrian woodpeckers heard.
A sunbird was in full song, however, in the Bauhinia today early afternoon, seemingly the only bird that wants to sing in August, though laughing doves joined in with coos. Feral pigeons on roof tops in the street. White spectacled bulbuls started up today in the garden at about 5.30 a.m., first a more distant bird, then our local joined in. A sunbird was calling minutes later.

Mullein and capers have pretty much finished blooming everywhere now though some thyme cushions are still flowering here and there. The low yellow pea by the roadside, polygonum and the yellow thistle continue to flower enthusiastically though so few of the leaves of that thistle are actually green it's amazing it gets nutrition at all, it looks so dry.

Wasps are on the rise and are appearing more frequently in our houses and the oriental hornet has also been seen lately, a large brown wasp with the last segment or so yellow. Moshe found a ground nest of wasps a week ago.. something important to watch out for because you could easily put your foot in one of those and suddenly have a tornado of angry yellowjackets on your hands, as happened to the boys last year though they got away fast enough not to get stung.
Several species of cricket heard at night, sounding like lost cellphones in the undergrowth, so shrill, mosquitoes still a nuisance, black millipedes still about, ants busy, seen on the march lately,
Geckoes heard and bats spotted.

~6.40 p.m. temp just over 27 degres C. ( 80.6 degrees F)
humidity 45%, wind WNW 7 kt
Today's range: 22-31 degrees C ( 71.6 - 87.8 degrees F)

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