Thursday, February 18, 2010

First Bee Orchid amongst other delights

I found this orchid by the shepherd's trail this (Monday) afternoon. Carmel Bee orchid.. below.. zoom in on two flowers. (Ophrys carmeli) . First Ophrys orchid noticed yet this season

Delicate but expansive succulent around the rock flat ponds, just east of the turn off to north watercourse dirt road. These red succulents are common over many flat rocks with the slightest amount of earth, their flowers, just a few mm across, mostly seem to have four petals though some of them seem to have five. Will post I.D. when I find it again.

Akiva found this feather in the pine grove around the service road. It is 7 cm long and about 4 cm wide and given its size and colouration (white with slightly orange tip) my best guess is body feather of a cattle egret.

Thursday 18 th Feb:
Early morning in the garden: melodious calls of both Sunbird and white spectacled bulbul coos of laughing dove, chirps of house sparrows, and again song of something like a lark going on and on.. still havn't found it when I've gone out to look. Only sings as the sun is about to come up, then stops. Not a skylark but similar, very beautiful.

A couple of calls of white breasted kingfisher near north watercourse turn off, in the pines just west of gazelle field.
Also about, great tits, calling, chukar partridges (at least two) seen flying from by valley road near the wattle tree down into north valley watercourse with loud calls. Blackbirds, Eurasian jays in the woods, jackdaws and hooded crows passing over to roost, stonechats calling in field area by north valley watercourse.

Found I.D. of the plant very similar to the blue flowered monkwort (Nonea) . It's Egyptian alkanet, Anchusa aegyptiaca. There is a LOT of this in bloom right now.

Saturday 20th Feb: more white breasted kingfisher calls. Great tits again but not song. Chukar partridges heard down in north valley,, they've been more vocal lately, jackdaw and hooded crows passing over to roost . Blackbird song and calls, 4 swifts seen over the neighbourhood just before dark.

Hyrax activity by valley road, all adults. No luck on gazelles, none seen in either gazelle field nor east field.

Sunday 21st Feb: Best bird of the day and a new one for me, spotted by Akiva hopping on the rocks about the Shadiker hyrax colony- a blue rock thrush Monticola solitarius. I first took it for a male blackbird but soon saw the gizz was wrong, more graceful continuous movements but still thrush like, more like those of a nightingale. Once I could see it in good light the colouring was obviously different, not black but bluish slate grey and more variation about the body, though still smooth, and a lighter head.

Hyraxes were active round about, oblivious to the bird and vice versa. Two gazelle on the lower green slopes of hill to the north, looked like female and well grown young.

blackbird song in various places, also some great tit song in the garden today. Stone curlews calls about dark. Feral pigeons, jackdaws, hooded crows active overhead.

In flower in the valley also now, Veined savory, Micromeria nervosa, Gynandriris irises.

Monday 22nd Feb: Amazing song again this morning, starting when still dark about 5.15 a.m. like something between lark and thrush. A nightingale? As it got lighter a sunbird joined in with a variety of calls and then some time later laughing doves cooed and a chiffchaff sang for a while.

Best find today was the first Ophrys orchid I've found this season.. above.

Forest this afternoon: hundreds of crows on upper western slopes of windsurfer hill, on ground, occasionally taking off and flying about, then landing .. jackdaws and hooded crows. In the woods, great tit calls, some blackbird song, chiffchaff calls, Eurasian jays, graceful warblers. Stone curlews vocalized from direction of east field as it got dark.

As we emerged onto the hillslopes we soon saw three young gazelle moving into the trees by the 'alien head' trail, (so called because of a rock we found there -it's a rough trail down through the trees between the easy shepherd's trail and the Pistacio orchard.) As we descended the track which leads from top of the hill down to the cistern area, Akiva saw at least six run into the tree cover farther down. 9 today then, no adult male amongst them that we could make out.

More clover variety out including star clover, a small yellow type, also Astragalus.

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