Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Yet another thistle, wasp engineering

Today I noticed yet another thistle species beginning to bloom that I had not noticed before. This was found by the east valley dirt road and so far only one plant of that kind. The blue tuft thistle and dry looking yellow thistle continue to bloom in many places. Above, close up of florets, below, whole top of the plant.

Below, seeds of Ailanthus, tree of heaven, a prolific tree found all over the neighbourhood and also planted in the sapling field and another older tree growing well at the edge of the east valley watercourse there.

This is another potter wasp creation discovered by Moshe low down against our garden wall. Very interesting are the additions of cement to the structure. The wasp is long practiced in forming nesting cells from earth but adding a man made building material .. accident or design? Anyone else heard of them using cement? The blobs look much more like accretions than a spill.

4 gazelle seen today. Two without any obvious horns grazing separately though not far apart on the north face of windsurfer hill just about the point the hill starts to rise more steeply towards its summit. As we watched them two more strolled over from the east, apparently a mother and young, the young following. They appeared to completely ignore the two others, making their way steadily around the hillside, stopping to graze every few paces.

Hyrax, one seen a few feet up on a cypress branch, reaching forward and down along the branch to nibble at the tenderest shoots apparently, also the alarm squeals heard from the pumphouse colony as we came down the snake path this evening at ~10.30 p.m. We don't usually go up there on our evening walk but I wanted to take some bottles to a collection point for recycling and to photograph the Ailanthus near there.

Laughing doves, bulbuls and house sparrows heard from the garden, sunbird also about I think. In the woods, collared doves much in evidence as well as jays and Syrian woodpeckers, husband glimpsed a hoopoe flying into the pine grove just east of the cistern, raising its crest on landing then continuing on its way, and I heard a clear Tristram's grackle whistle coming from the bipass road, a stretch favoured by them as it resembles a natural gorge.

Loose jackdaw flock calling and heading south over and along the bipass road, some hooded crows also, higher and behind them. Husband heard a stone curlew about sunset but I missed that call. No bee-eaters on this walk but I did hear them at dawn from the house.

Temp. range today: 22-31 degrees C. (71.6 - 87.8 degrees F) , winds mostly W or NW all day, humidity from 30% about noon to ~90 % late evening, as is fairly typical these days. Humidity at night often 90-100% through part of the night now.

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