Thursday, May 20, 2010

Season of insects

Moshe found this curious larva on the sidewalk outside our place, emerging from a hole this morning. (23rd May) It was about 4 cm long, mostly black and pink with hints of green at each end. Well developed insect legs at the front, pseudo leg/legs at the rear end so that it moved a little like a geometrid moth caterpillar but I rather think it's some kind of beetle larva. I sent a pic to Rittner, the Israel based entomologist whose site I often visit, hoping he is familiar.

* Neat, Oz Rittner got back to me.. it's a FIREFLY larva.. one of the Lampyrids.. we should have kept it because by now it would be glowing! So it is indeed a beetle but I had not suspected..

Cicada on one of the Pistacias. Pic taken by Akiva last week. I could not find the pic anywhere on my desktop or in my invertebrates file. Panic! I must have misplaced it. Fortunately before I did that I had posted it on yearbook and tweeted it everywhere so was able to access the image there. Phew!

(I should get out of the habit of calling the Pistacia palaestina 'Pistacios' because I want to avoid confusion with Pistaccio (nut) trees. In English they are also called terebinths.

Xylocopa pubescens (carpenter) bee seen on capers one day this week. First time I've seen this one in this area, up till now have only seen X. violacea though both common in Wadi Qelt not far off.

Wednesday 10th May

A number of big brown jobs about, honey buzzards? These upset the local corvids.. we saw hooded crows harrying the larger birds several times, jays made a fuss, probably when a raptor tried to alight in a nearby tree and one case of a kestrel trying to dive bomb one of the buzzards.

Greenfinches very vocal in the look out area last few days but bee-eaters must be foraging elsewhere. Turtle doves cooing and collared doves still about. Shrill call in eucalyptus could have been ring necked parakeet but not seen.

Occasional sightings of gazelle in recent days either by bat cave or on west slopes of windsurfer hill but only in ones or twos.

Thursday 20th May:
garden: house sparrows, laughing doves, white spectacled bulbuls, sunbirds active and vocal. Greenfinches heard in cypress next door a couple of days ago.

Saturday 22nd May

Fox sighting - emerging from behind pine grove east of cistern.. preceded by shrill alarm calls from stone curlews.. then saw it walk behind eucalyptus.. it cut in front of Pistacias , cross east valley dirt road into pine grove behind look-out corner, crossed central trail and headed into pine grove west of gazelle field, pretty much encircling us clockwise 180 degrees.

Turtle doves heard, some bee-eater calls, swifts,
Family of great tits near the bridge over east valley watercourse. Also there, nice views of a ring necked parakeet flying between eucalyptuses, came quite close to us, called a few times.

Sunday 23 rd May.

Fox: (2) 1st : more reddish than other foxes seen, just north of sapling field under pines, then crossed east valley dirt road and headed up lower slopes of windsurfer. A few minutes later fox seen near shaft headed over to north valley watercourse, greyer individual.

Hyrax activity by valley road, forest side.

Lots of jackdaw and hooded crow activity, hobby perched top of scraggly old cypress near the shaft. Some blackbird song and sightings, Eurasian jays about. Syrian woodpecker call. Young birds calling from the cypress by pumphouse hyrax colony.

globe thistles are beginning to bloom, no sign of their usual beetle infestation, by valley road though the clump by the trail down into sapling field appears to have died, no new growth for this season, perhaps due to overspill effluents from a nearby manhole, dry now but overflowed several times in early spring. This also appears to be adversely affecting nearby acacias and eucalyptuses between there and the bridge, much unhealthy looking or dead foliage.

Where are hoopoes? No sightings this season.

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