Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Year of the Trees

Tu BiShvat, (15th of the Hebrew month of Shvat) New Year of the Trees is this week, (Tuesday) and the beginning of spring in Israel. We celebrate by eating a variety of fruits on that day, in particular fruits of the region such as dried figs, dates and raisins. Days are getting longer, birds are singing, sap stirs in the trees. Today I really felt it, the air was wonderfully pleasant.
Almond trees not yet in bloom here, any day now, we're watching out for them.

Temperature range was 3-11 degrees C, 9 degrees C at about 4 p.m. Humidity 68% and rising, wind SSE 4.3 kt.

Not far from the stream in east valley we found an asphodel (Asphodelus microcarpus) starting to bloom. This is a common member of the lily family, and their bunches of long leaves are all over the forest now. Their flowers are streaked lilac and white and borne on tall spikes. We want to wait till we find nicer specimens for a photograph.. they'll be blooming from now till April.

From the house I heard house sparrows, hooded crows and laughing doves cooing. From about 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. I visited with my friend and neighbour Shoshanna who lives pretty much around the corner and has a very nicely planted private garden. She reported a sunbird nest in one of the trees and there were plenty house sparrows and laughing doves around, as well as feral pigeons up high on nearby buildings, some males busy bowing, pacing and cooing. Several flocks of feral pigeons passed overhead, jackdaws heard briefly and great tit singing not far off. The family has a great interest in the local fauna so we happily discussed sightings of blackbirds and hoopoes and other birds for a while.

Heard white spectacled bulbul on the way home. Headed down to the valley a little after 4 p.m. with husband as usual - male black redstart on the bunker rubble. Graceful warblers heard calling, some greenfinch twittering, blackbird chakking alarm and presently just around dusk a blackbird sang in one of the acacias on the bank between valley road and the buildings.

Tracks of gazelle on the trail just to the west of the stream through the middle of east valley pines where plenty asphodel growing. Looked towards the olive grove and there was an adult male gazelle standing and gazing back at us. Presently he turned and alternated walking and light running towards the olives.

No comments: