Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Early borage and Balancing pheasant

Podonosma syriaca

Jerusalem, Israel

Temp. range 2-7 degrees C

There seemed to be a convention of house sparrows in our garden this afternoon but this is not unusual lately. Hooded crows, white spectacled bulbuls, a sunbird and a blackbird also heard.

Laughing doves and feral pigeons seen on top edges of nearby apartment buildings (generally 3 storeys our side of the street)

~4.45 p.m. ~7 degrees C, humidity 85%, wind 3.5 kt N
Plenty tracks of gazelle and feral dogs on the various paths in the forest but no mammals spotted today. Hooded crow about and graceful warblers heard. Nice male stonechat out on the scrub in the forepart of gazelle field, visible from quite a distance. Black redstart and European robin calls heard not far from the rubble but neither made an appearance.
Blackbird song and alarm calls, Distant white wagtail calls and probable chiffchaff but still no sign of swifts.

The main scrub bushes all over the fields around the woods and any spot within the woods that is open enough, are in full leaf, tiny double rows of leaves amongst an intricate lacework of spines. The leaves when crushed smell of oregano quite powerfully. They bear blue flowers later in the season, typical flower type of mint family (photographed in an earlier entry)

On the way down to valley road I found a handsome large and unusual plant in full flower against a wall, a hairy borage type plant with rows of small blue tubular bell type flowers with yellow tips. Looking it up after we found it was Podonosma syriaca, a plant which is not supposed to bloom till March but given this plant's very sheltered location by a footpath between wall and building it was able to bloom early.

S.W. England
The feeders were super busy early afternoon with greenfinches, chaffinches, some house sparrows, plenty great tit, some bluetits and brief visits by coal tits and marsh tits, also a male great spotted woodpecker visited for a while. Nuthatch and robin also visited and a male pheasant strolled behind but the star of today's show was a hen pheasant, as follows:
I posted the following note to the site's comment board.
Here's something I've never seen at the feeder before. Pheasants often stroll behind but today at about 2.18 p.m. a female pheasant was perched on TOP of the middle feeder at camera 1, perched precariously and turning around very carefully,like a competitor in the immune challenge on 'Survivor', and leaning over to take seeds from the feeder. It was hilarious to watch.. she seemed quite successful.
We're talking about a bird over two feet long perched on top of a feeder no more than two inches or so in diameter.

Meanwhile at James' reserve in California: a few degrees colder, and damper than Israel today.
It was about 8.30 a.m. in the morning over there when I tuned in. Purple finches and a mourning dove were using the feeder, soon the usual mountain chickadees and pygmy nuthatches arrived and a little later, oregon juncoes and a steller's jay which surprisingly did not intimidate a mourning dove into leaving. If anything else shows up I'll report it tomorrow.

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