Sunday, August 16, 2009

Plants and flowers of Wadi Qelt , part 1

A short stretch of the gorge showing the dominant vegetation, Giant Reed, Arundo donax. This grass grows several metres high, (which gives you an idea of the scale of the picture) the flower head alone is longer than my arm, (I have one in my room for decoration!)

We walked along a trail along the outside of the vegetation, the boys walked through the watercourse itself and they were invisible through all the reeds.. we called 'Marco' - 'Polo' to keep up with each other!

The second most prolific plant were these beautiful lilac flower spikes.. the flower forms themselves can be best seen in the last post in the butterfly pic but here I wanted to show the whole form of the spike and leaves. Those were simple palmate, very similar in form to those of hemp but not serrated at all. The flower form was nothing like hemp flowers, however, much more like a mint but I'm not sure which yet. The flower spikes themselves were at least 20 cm long and growing right next to the reeds on the canyon wall side.

Below, seed pod of Datura, also known as Thorn apple, a highly poisonous plant of the tomato family growing in the form of a small bush on the dry side of the trail, farther out from the water than the purple spikes but not as far as those yellow blooms in the pic with the oriental hornet in the last entry.

This pretty golden flower below looks to me like one of the Ranunculaceae family and was growing out of the rocks on the lower part of the canyon wall just upstream from the wet section ( where it appears a spring emerges.) Clearly more dryness adapted than most of the Wadi Qelt plants but I have not seen this in our patch at all. The flower is about twice the size of a common buttercup. Below the single flower head is the seedhead and below that, a flower with leaves.

Below: Flowerhead of a bushy shrub growing a few metres from the water by the trail, rather inconspicuous but pretty pink tufty flowers, again, unknown on my patch.

That's still not all! I have yet more for you tomorrow! There was so much unfamiliar to me, it was a delight to try to collect views of anything I thought might interest you, and even then I'm sure I did not get to the end of the vegetation there. This is an artery to the Jordan rift valley and receives sub tropical influences from that direction.

I also noticed farther out, closer to the canyon wall were more familiar species.. dried up capers, old globe thistles, the yellow thistle growing all over our patch now.

Meanwhile on our local patch:
Gazelle: none today

Forgot to mention last wednesday: Feral dogs: brown and white patch male sniffing around the Pistacio orchard, alone last wednesday. Within minutes a feral cat: coincidence! One handsome wild coloured Tom, banded legs and tail, dark tear face markings but used to people, walked by Pistacio orchard to bunker rubble, sat amongst that, watched me

Reptiles: a number of gecko calls heard around buildings lately at various times of the night.
A striped lizard today, darted over central trail just before it reaches valley road. From the detail Akiva was able to make out, possibly Lacerta trilineata

: Calls heard on and off all day since dawn, they've been busy over the valleys. We headed out for a brief walk before sunset and heard them, saw flock active over the cistern area but hard to make out how many. We watched a few skim low over north gazelle field for a while.
Hoopoe took off from the ground near the bat cave and flew across north valley watercourse open stretch to land in a bare tree, looks like giant striped butterfly in flight though doesn't fly like one, partly a glide with a flick up of the wings at a rate of at most once a second.
Tristram's starling calls heard from the direction of the flintstones or upper hidden watercourse area. From the calls sounded like more than one bird. Sometimes I call it a grackle, sometimes a starling, the latter more correct as it's not in the New World grackle family but grackle is often used.
Collared doves, active, cooing, as were laughing doves in the gardens and feral pigeons on rooftops.
Eurasian Jays: glimpsed occasionally in the woods but quiet today.
Jackdaws: some calls, flock of 50,60 foraging on the ground up on the bank on east side of north gazelle field. Hooded crows: not obvious today
House sparrows: calls in the garden.
Sunbirds: some alarm squeaks from just before dawn, some song in the Bauhinia early afternoon.
Syrian woodpeckers: some calls heard
White spectacled Bulbuls: melodious calls started up at about 5.40 or a little later.

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