Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wadi Dana~Fall Fauna

While on our afternoon hike, we met one of the reserve's scouts; he continued on with us as far as Look-Out Point. Dear Husband asked him for tips on ibex-spotting and he advised us to visit the bird-watch near camp at about seven in the morning.

Late that evening we agreed to make our way down to the bird watch in the morning, quietly and with no talking. I arrived first, at about 6:30am, followed by Tayta and then my mom and dad. Dear Husband went solo to another rock.

Through the slit in the bird-watch wall, we focused our eyes on the small pond of water about 15 meters in front of us. Waiting. Waiting. First to visit were the Bulbuls.

White-Spectacled Bulbul
 Pycnonotus xanthopygos

Next to arrive were the Greenfinches.

Carduelis chloris

The Chukers make a lot of noise, so we could hear a group of them approaching on foot.

Alectoris chuckar

They never came all the way to the pond for their morning drink. Maybe they heard the click of my camera shutter.

We had been in the bird-watch for about forty minutes, and our hopes of spotting an ibex were beginning to wane. We are not seasoned or patient wildlife spotters--which is probably why Dear Husband set of on his own. 

Tayta spotted this spider crawling along the bird-watch all in front of us. (His leg span was about 3-4 inches). It turned out to be a don't-bother-him-and-he-won't-bother-you situation, but we shifted around in the watch as the spider periodically scurried back and forth in front of us.

Just a short while later, Tayta whispered and pointed, "Look! Ibex!" Perhaps they were coming for a drink and had we been quieter they might have come closer. We couldn't resist taking pictures, though. These look like juvenile ibex. Reading about them post-sighting I learned that female and juvenile ibex travel in groups but the adult males live in separate herds, except for during the mating season.

Nubian Ibex
Capra ibex nubiana

Dear Husband was rewarded with the sighting of a single male ibex with very large curled horns and a goatee. None of had previously seen an ibex so near to us in all our trips to Wadi Dana. I also read that the ibex tend to stay down in the valley in the spring (for grass) and winter (it's warmer in the valley) so my theory is that they were still up high, near the camp, since the warm summer weather was just beginning to fade, and were therefore easier to spot. Maybe. If so, it adds incentive to return to Wadi Dana twice a year: spring and fall.

A couple more bird sightings and subsequent identifications, helped by the knowledgeable birders in the Jordan Birdwatching Facebook group. 

Tristam Grackle

Rock Sparrow

And, not exactly wildlife, but one more picture of some non-indigenous creatures enjoying God's creation at Wadi Dana: 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Wadi Dana~Fall Beauty

I love to visit Wadi Dana, our favorite place in Jordan, with people who are beholding its breathtaking beauty for the first time. My parents visited us in Jordan earlier this month, and the one place they asked to see was Wadi Dana as they had heard us tell of it's beauty through the years.

We had not made a fall visit to Dana for many years, preferring the freshness and color of spring after a long,bleak winter. I apologized in advance to my parents for the dry, dusty, brown landscape that awaited us, but I needn't have. Yes, it was dry and dusty, but I had forgotten how the warm light of an autumn sun turns brown and gray to gold and silver. I saw Wadi Dana with new eyes. Or, more likely, I saw it with old eyes.
photo credit Tayta

The thick green foliage of the Squill plant dries up, and then the plant presents its subtle white flowers:

Urginea maritima

Dear Husband commented that the fall-blooming Squill is an apt metaphor for the autumn of life when the flesh withers and the inner beauty of the soul flowers. The metaphor breaks down at some point, but it is a lovely thought and I will remember it whenever I see the Squill flower.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Love, true love..."

Dear Husband and I were awakened at 5:28 this morning by a phone call from Oldest Daughter. As a mom with three kids living on another continent I tend to worry about after-hours (or in this case, before-hours) calls, but I could tell almost immediately from Dear Husband's responses that he was talking with Oldest Daughter and that the conversation was upbeat. The news was good indeed: Oldest Daughter's boyfriend had become her fiance and she was calling to share the happy event with us.

(photo credit, Tayta)

It is with hearts full of gratitude for God's blessings that we welcome Danny into our family.

(photo credit, Tayta)

Congratulations, Lauren and Danny!

Dad and I are behind you as you look to the future together and anticipate all that God has prepared for you. May He bless you and keep you as celebrate your love for each other.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fall Wildflowers~Mafraq

The city of Mafraq, located on the edge of the semi-arid Baida region, has little aesthetic beauty to recommend it, however, the hospital compound where Dear Husband works and which is located on the edge of town  is like a mini-nature reserve. Yesterday I discovered these specimens of fall beauty, helped by the warm light of an early morning autumn sun which brightened berries and shone through translucent petals and membranous fruits.

Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron
Colchium sp.

These wild crocuses are very small, about four or  five centimeters tall, and there were just about three small groups of them growing under this palm tree:

I found the palm and the crocuses an interesting juxtaposition of plant species.

Other than the crocuses, it was the little admired Chenopods which shined, literally, and  ruled the fall morning. 

This Anabasis doesn't look like much as  one strolls by it, but a lingering glance reveals  bits of yellow peaking out of the gray-green plant, and upon a much closer look one notices minute yellow flowers growing from the joints of the branches.

Anabasis sp.

These  Chenopods reminded me a bit of the underwater scenery around the coral reefs in Aqaba.

Another Anabasis (I think)

This Halothamnus also had minute flowers embedded at the joints of its branches; it is the membranous five winged fruits which resemble flowers.

 I imagined this small plant as a perfect fall bridal bouquet for meadow fairies.

Halothamnus sp.

I loved this view of many Halothamnus bushes, aglow with morning sunshine pouring through their translucent fruit/membranes.

A couple closer shots and the fruits resemble tiny hollyhock like flowers. Nearly all of the Halothamnus shrubs had white fruits, but this bush had pink"wings".

Halothamnus sp.

I'm pretty sure this Chenopod is Orache, or Atriplex sylosa Viv. The plant has small grey-green leaves with toothed margins, and spreads out close to the ground. The fruits are very small, fleshy, and red, and are best seen when the sun is shining through them. Up close, they look like teeny tiny lights. Beautiful.