Sunday, February 24, 2008

Blooming almonds and others

Large pic: almond blossom
Small blue flower: alkanet type
4 petalled flower: Malcolmia
White spike: Bellevalia

Sky is covered with cloud ripples like white coral sand on the shore, high altocumulus.
10-16 degrees C, 13 degrees C at about 4.30 p.m. humidity ~60% fluctuating, wind W 3-8 kt

House sparrows, laughing dove cooing softly in the gardens, we watched female or immature sunbird forage in some garden creeper. Into the woods and Eurasian jays active and vocal, much high pitched peeping from elusive softbills, probably black redstarts. There were quite a few chaffinches around, calling their distinctive 'pink!' contact call from the tops of cypress trees. Brief greenfinch twitter and a high pitched call from the pine grove over beyond the cistern which I believe is another goldcrest. Graceful warblers, great tits,white spectacled bulbuls and blackbirds also quite vocal today. Hooded crows around as usual, some heading north to roost.
Due to a loud barbecue in progress near the bunker ruins there was no use checking out the usual residents so we swung north into gazelle field.

We found some new and interesting flora which we photographed. My prime objective was to get shots of the largest almond tree which just started to bloom within the last couple of days but on the open field were other little gems of life. Comparison of our shots at home with Azaria Alon's guide easily identified two of the commonest, a white four petalled flower turned out to be Malcolmia crenulata (one of the crucifers) and a white spiked flower found in quantities was Bellevalia flexuosa, a member of the onion family. I also found a charming small blue 5 petalled flower up against a rock which seems to be one of the alkanets, part of the borage family, but haven't yet narrowed it down beyond that.

Still plenty red anemones around, I found a nice katydid on one of them.. (also known as bush cricket) and there were also a number of hairy brown caterpillars feeding and getting quite large, likely their eggs had overwintered.

Two gazelle grazing north end of the field, one had short thin horns. Some 'sproinging' up the slope.

Brief visit to South West England.. Denbury farm just before noon local time:

A whole little gang of greenfinches, several chaffinches and the 'tit tag team' , i.e. great tits, blue tits, briefly coal tits and marsh tit. Robin also visited. I signed off when a couple of people decided to hang around right there.

The U.K. is only 2000 miles west of Israel and so many species are found in both places where habitats are suitable, at the western and eastern edges of their range respectively. As you see we 'share' great tits, greenfinches, house sparrows and blackbirds as well as chaffinches and robins seasonally. Listening to recordings of UK blackbirds I notice subtle differences in 'dialect'. The UK birds tend to have more long lower pitched tones and the Israeli birds more shorter higher pitched embellishments but both are recognizably blackbirds.

Meanwhile in Southern Calfornia: Over at James reserve the air was misty, snow still on more open ground and temperature just 42 degrees F at 8 a.m. Mountain tits and purple finches already visiting the feeder as well as oregon juncos and a white breasted nuthatch. A Steller's Jay has just arrived and of course he's making for the fat block... a second jay, and they're also using the grain and seed food from the feeders and the plate beneath. Visibility is awful right now in the main feeder cam so I flick from that to the side view of feeders and seed block and the view further back which also includes the ground below. Two more jays have arrived, one down below foraging for dropped seed. Pair of pygmy nuthatches

This camera has a refresh every five seconds which is helpful because each bird is frozen for a short while to enable easy IDs. The Denbury farm cam is continuous, almost like a movie, which makes gives better appreciation of movement but requires a quicker eye for IDs.

1 comment:

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