Sunday, March 9, 2008

Chamomile tea ,anyone?

Chamomile daisies

Temperatures in Jerusalem, Israel, have experienced yet another rise. Range today has been 20-28 degrees C. (~82.5 F). Sky overcast, air again heavy with particulates (tough on people with allergies.. I can taste the air and I'm sneezing a bit more than usual though not so uncomfortable) though humidity between 12% and 24 % throughout the day. Winds SE varying 0-8 kt

Sunbird in the garden started the day even earlier today, he was chiming away at about 7 minutes before 5 a.m. I noticed the cape honeysuckle blooms are pretty much gone but there's a lovely ornamental tree in the garden on the other side with large peach coloured bell shaped flowers and we watched a male take nectar from those for a while.

When we went out not long before 5 p.m., temp was ~25 degrees C. White spectacled bulbuls, house sparrows and laughing doves were soon vocal and later at about 6.20 a.m. a definite song pattern of a chiffchaff from somewhere in our or a neighbouring garden. This confirms my suspicion I heard them also sing a few days ago though at that time only brief snatches almost drowned out by the local sparrows. In past years I've heard them sing this time of year before they head north again.

Syrian woodpeckers active and vocal today, graceful warblers heard, small greenfinch bands about foraging but no chaw sound. Collared dove perched up on a line but no cooing heard today. Hooded crows about, still some flocking on windsurfer hill lately but they're dispersing to various parts of the wood to breed and are spotted on many tall trees. Eurasian jays spotted flying between trees though mostly quiet. Blackbird calls heard and some song just after sunset. Stone curlew calls heard north gazelle field about five to 6 p.m.

No gazelle show today though harsh alarm chitters of rock hyrax were heard down on forest side of cypress slum colony shortly after sunset.

Gazelle field today became a wild flower treasure hunt. I spotted several unfamiliar species blooming amongst now rather bedgraggled red anemone, shepherd's purse turning to seeds and lots of bellevalia and alkanets. Tall asphodel were everywhere the pines gave a little shade but not out in the open. The almond trees were a little out of phase with each other.. the largest more advanced, already about half the petals shed and leaves half grown. The smallest almond trees were at peak flower and just budding leaves. A couple of hawthorns in the field were heading towards full leaf, and there were small purple dead nettle blooming in many sheltered spots. The most familiar and beloved new flower out were the chamomile daisies now sprouting in many places in gazelle field in the open.

One in particular caught my interest nestled by the boulders in the north west corner of gazelle field, not far from the pines - a particularly beautiful brilliant yellow flower with spots, one of the labiates, and leaves like small succulent needles, found most similar to a plant in Azaria Alon's guide as Ajuga chia. It has no common name but is being researched for its medicinal properties especially in wound healing. The flower we found didn't look quite like the one in the guide but no doubt a cousin.

We also found a large kind of yellow buttercup in the shade of the pines and one of the local white catchflies, a campion with five almost totally divided petals as well as a curious red growth, almost like seaweed on the limestone rocks.

Ajuga type.

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