Thursday, March 13, 2008

The lovely White Broom.

White broom, taken by husband today.

By the way, my husband grants 'creative commons' permission on all his pictures. I ask that if you choose to use his photos that you would just pls add 'A. Atwood' to give him credit.

Raining part of the early afternoon, temp range 8-~15 degrees C.

Stone curlews heard from the valley late evening.

We're on white stork alert- this is their migration season, they're coming up from Africa to Europe and many pass over Israel. I received an e mail from a birding friend last night that a nice flock has been seen already. Husband hopped out a few times around the middle of the day but no luck yet.

From the house: sunbird, hooded crows, bulbuls, laughing dove coos, house sparrows.

About 5 p.m. ~10.6 degrees C, humidity 79%, winds westerly ~17 kt. Towering 'mash potato' cumulus over much of the western sky, dark undersides.

On the way husband took some shots of a beautiful small tree we'd noticed yesterday on the steep (north facing) incline down into north valley. Each bloom was barely 1 cm in length and the flowers were profuse and lovely. After some research (between Nogah HaReuveni's 'Tree and Shrub in our Biblical heritage' and a beautiful blog called 'flowers in Israel' I discovered it was white broom. Retama raetum

There's also plenty of the more common yellow (Spanish/Rush) broom (Spartium junceum) around especially by the roadside along the same stretch.

Heading into valley, there were kids around the bunker so we took the path into north valley, glad we did! We surprised a group of gazelle by the new pine grove between the valleys, just south of the north valley course (which is sadly almost always dry). They sprang up from the stream bed and into the field. For a while they watched us, then soon returned to grazing and playing. One of them clearly wanted to play at 'jousting', he butted at the head of one of the others even though he had no noticeable horns at all. He looked like a dog that wanted to play, nudging, then springing back a whole body length, springing forward and nudging with his head again. The other had no interest in the game so soon they were all back grazing again. He tried again a short while later but got the same apathetic response.

We heard a clamorous chatter of something way off in the cypress at the eastern end of the slopes on the northern side of north valley. All we could see was a hooded crow perched near the top of one of the cypress and this call was definitely not from that. We surprised a pair of
chukar partridge from the stream course itself, they flew off over gazelle field. We didn't find the noisy bird but I wondered if it was a great spotted cuckoo returned to parasitize the hoodies. We'd seen some cuckoo activity in that stand of cypress last year (though our best observations of them were in the pine grove just east of the cistern) No luck, we didn't find them but we did come across a small cave on our way up the hill and I was delighted to notice a bat in it! It flew a circuit of its cave and then out into the predusk air. I ducked in there and spent a few minutes checking the cave roof for any others but no luck.

Other birds heard and seen: great tits, blackbirds, jackdaws, feral pigeons, graceful warbler and small finch bands, and a cooing collared dove.

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