Monday, August 17, 2009

More vegetation of Wadi Qelt

Above, giant reeds towered over our heads. The feathery part of that flower head alone is over two feet long. These reeds are also common in the brakish swamps next to the Dead Sea and along other wadis leading down there.

(I wrote a short piece about one such swamp on my website years ago, if you're interested. Such places are amazingly abounding in life even though they're right next to the Dead Sea. Water run off from the desert mountains makes the shores very hospitable in some parts. Also a potentially deadly place, black cobras and sinking mud are a possibility, one stays on the paths! )

The yellow blooms in the pic of the oriental hornet seem to transform to these white grape like fruits. Regular readers here may recognize the bug, yes the caper menace has reached Wadi Qelt too!

Below, richly green, and richly spiny- I am sure I have seen this plant in the books but can't place it. I hope I remember soon! This was also found along the trail a few metres out from the water. A lovely grass flower head, reminded me a little of pampas grass. There were patches of this growing here and there, a few metres up the hill from the water.

Put them all together, and what do you have? A wonderful jungly abundance of blue flower spikes, grasses, shrubs and giant reeds with an austere magestic backdrop of gorge wall. This is where I sat watching carpenter bees while the boys fished.

(In the process of searching for I.D.s on these I discovered the I.D. of a plant Avremi had photographed on our patch in the spring. It is Valantia muralis, a small shrub found in the shade of the trees. Always nice to I.D. anything even if months later! ) It also seems that those 'caterpillar burs' are from some kind of Torilis.

I must make more time to find I.D.s for these other plants! Apart from satisfying myself with a name and being able to tell you, this enables me to find out on the net what is known about the plant, and I also like knowing what family they belong to and what their relatives are, any interesting info.

I've found another: Malabaila secacul.. a kind of wild carrot with a yellow head a bit like that of fennel but the flowers more full. A plant very like this was blooming all over the patch in the spring, but this also looks a lot like Ferula and Ferulago- these are over now.. too late to compare leaves this season.

I did find one of the grasses by the blue spikes and 'pampas grass', seems to be Digitaria sanguinalis- or something similar. The damselflies liked settling on it, camouflaged them quite well once landed. I did not get any successful pics of them unfortunately. After a search, no luck yet the blue spikes or some of the others, I'll just have to keep my eyes open! There is more!

What did we find on the patch today?

4 gazelle! We ascended windsurfer hill up a trail just south of the bridge, this takes us near the saddle/'dry jacuzzi' watercourse. As we moved around to the north side of the hillside we spotted two gazelle, seemed to be a mother and young. They made their way down towards the small olive grove. We saw two more ahead of us, this time neither had horns, looked like one well grown young and a younger one. (are older siblings assigned to 'babysit' ?) . These two also headed down towards the olives when they became aware of us.

Hyrax: several on the boulders just down from the road, one older individual sprawled on his belly, back legs out, another younger one exploring, both probably of the cypress slum colony. Alarm chitters ahead from the pumphouse colony as a small pack of feral dogs, dingo red and patched, tails aloft trotted down the road in single file, then ascended the hill slope to the west.

Flock of bee-eaters heard in the eucalyptus grove, a small group took off and wheeled over the Pistacio orchard, more perched in the grove, could not tell how many- it was almost sunset and they seemed to be settling to roost.

Flock of crows up on the west facing slopes of windsurfer hill. 50 or so jackdaws took off with many vocalizations and headed west, over our neighbourhood. At least as many stayed on the ground on the hillside, some hooded crows amongst them.

Some collared doves glimpsed in the woods, several pairs of laughing doves at crumb corner while we were there, house sparrow flock foraging on the ground near Shadiker hyrax colony again, sunbird in song in our Bauhinia late afternoon. Blackbird active close by, our garden or neighbour's just before dawn.

Temperature range today: 19.5 - 30 degrees C ( 67 + degrees F - 86 degrees F) , humidity, ~35 % around midday, early afternoon to over 95% at night) , winds mainly W/NW

No comments: