Sunday, March 14, 2010

The 'Hamsin breaks, steps in spiny seedpod mystery

Spiny pod ("the spiny seedpod from hell!!'' ) mystery partially solved. I went back to the crossroads in the forest where I had seen the spiny pods on stalks last season, (as opposed to stuck on our shoes and socks) to try to catch the plant earlier in its life cycle. My patience was rewarded! I found the plant, above.. flowers, and below, leaves and early developing seedpods. I still don't know what it is exactly except that it seems to be a legume (as I had suspected) like a vetch. I checked all Vicia species on the site I go to but did not find a match. At least now we have much more to go on for I.D. A small blue butterfly was resting on one flowerstalk.

Monday: Here the clouds are blowing down through the north watercourse valley.

Masses of flowers are great places to check for insects. Now the milk thistle is in bloom, some stands including many plants taller than myself! Most blooms are purple but almost all stands include pure white flowers. Above, two earwigs visit a head, below, some kind of beetle squats at a thistle head base. I have also seen a beetle just like this on mignonette by valley road.

Numbers of crane flies and daddy long legs spiders have increased greatly over the last week, some crane flies entering the house. A bat seen chasing moths around a bright lamp at the edge of the neighbourhood yesterday evening.

Early morning: Monday 15th March: Bulbuls began about 5.05 am. , sunbird had been calling on and off over previous half hour and house sparrows had been up for about an hour already. By 5.28 a.m. Orphean warbler heard, eastern sky dimly lit. Laughing dove cooing on and off at odd times including late at night and early dawn but increasing as all other birds awake.

The Hamsin broke today. Late morning temperature climbed to over 30 degrees but between 11 a.m and 1 p.m. the wind shifted from east to west and by late afternoon cool clouds were blowing in from the west, down north valley like a mist.. the air was full of water droplets.

was seen in bloom and anemones were replaced by Nurit, the Persian buttercup, as the dominant red flower on the hillsides.

No luck with hyrax or gazelle and birds were generally keeping a low profile but for swifts, screaming on high and dipping in and out of the clouds in a group. Blackbirds heard singing, a flock of hooded crows over the eucalyptus along east valley watercourse, cawing and wheeling around, seemed disturbed.

Acacia siligna , the wattle tree, blooming all over, adding pollen to the air.. their flowers like strings of brilliant yellow pompoms. Many insect eating birds such as blackbirds and bulbuls seem to like these trees, at least as places to sing and socialize and perhaps nest and probably also forage for insects to some extent though I find relatively few there, it not being a native species.

Early morning: Tuesday 16th March, by 5.30 a.m. I could hear sunbird, bulbul, house sparrow and laughing dove but no warbler.

Later on our walk: greenfinches and great tits heard, jackdaw flock up on windsurfer hill, kestrel flying up over the east watercourse , flapping a great deal because of wind conditions ( or rather, lack of them) , graceful warbler, bulbul, great spotted cuckoo, , hooded crows heard, Eurasian jay glimpsed.

Also, another few steps closer to identifying the plant which produces the ''spiny seedpods from hell''.. pics above. Later when I find it, I will post a ref back to the entry with the spiny pod pic.

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