Sunday, January 17, 2010

Insect season gets started

Another fumitory in bloom, I think this one is Fumaria capreolata, Ramping fumitory, their flowers always remind me of tiny painted fingernails. These were also noticed last season by the valley road pine corner and photographed by Avremi then, this was found up near the Shadiker hyrax colony. Nearby, unfurling yellow Oxalis (below) and a tiny delicate purple vetch like flower also noticed last season.

Thursday: one of the caterpillars on the hill, the type that was on the asphodel leaves, at least two inches long. The caterpillars with stripe of red hair on the thorny burnets were generally shorter.

Capsodes infuscatus , Mirid bug nymphs on asphodel leaves near north watercourse, quite a distance from the place we discovered them on thursday, on the slopes of windsurfer hill.. some adults also present but most we saw were nymphs. I think we can assume they are widespread and any asphodel that can make successful fruit this season will be fortunate. Many did succeed last season and Mirid bugs were present then too though we only found them in one location, under the pines just north of central trail. We shall see. Asphodel leaves were becoming discoloured with pale and yellowish patches and many drops of dark fluid. Adult bug below.

White breasted Kingfisher seen again for first time in ages last thursday. Husband saw it fly offd as I approached a tree some way behind look out corner and I had my eyes on the ground as usual. Saturday heard it but did not see it. We were near the pumping station and it sounded as if it was coming in our direction but didn't show itself. Chiffchaff calls all over the place and some stonechat calls around dusk behind the cistern. No more luck with hawfinches but some greenfinches and chaffinches about.

Saturday 17 January
: Late afternoon hyrax very active along valley road and in cypress trees, several at least 15 feet up in there.

Sunday 18 January: Graceful warbler heard in the garden at dawn. In the woods: Great tits more vocalisation but not song. Eurasian jay calls.

North valley opposite slope: Gazelles Adult buck following female, she looped down and away and for some reason he was disinclined to follow her, grazed, looked perplexed if anything.

Feral pigeons and house sparrows around the buildings as usual and laughing dove regular cooing in the garden. .Sunbird in the garden, also another calling in the pines as we came down the long trail to the north valley dirt road. Jackdaws calling from somewhere up near A Ram. Brief Eurasian sparrowhawk sightings last couple of days. Hooded crows about as usual though more dispersed, looks like they are staking out breeding territories.. now returning to roost separately, various parts of woods or sitting silently in trees.

First cyclamen bloom noticed today! In cavity part way up a rock. Also the wood sorrel, yellow Oxalis, is starting to bloom behind the gardens, long tubes beginning to unfurl and leaves already out. Vipers bugloss also blooming near Shadiker hyrax colony area and also some Bellevalia (Roman squill, looks like a small offwhite version of bluebell)

Monday: rained out.. raining all day and most of previous night. Husband did hear Tristram's starlings on his way down the hill to where we live.

Tuesday 19th Jan:

Some cumulonimbus rolling in from the south west, we took a brief stroll down valley road to the pumping station till rain started to fall again. Before the rain birds were quite active.. a flock of hooded crows seemed excited over the trees to the south . . we got the impression there were actually two distinct flocks, perhaps arguing over where the groups were to roost. Young black redstart on the bank, calling chiffchaffs, some individuals glimpsed, great tits, white spectacled bulbuls and blackbirds, graceful warblers all vocal, probably all quickly foraging and making contact before the rain. Group of greenfinches noticed high in a cypress.

One of geraniums in flower near edge of street, I.D.d for now as Erodium malacoides, a storksbill but also very similar to E. botrys. Not a good pic today, had only cell phone for I.D. , hope to get a better pic with the D40 tomorrow when it's charged up again. Some flowers had already developed into the characteristic stork bill shaped seed pods.

Also found a small green young bush cricket amongst the geraniums and other vegetation today.

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