Tuesday, May 6, 2008

First Anniversary!

Landscape view from 'north ridge' looking south: The dark area is the east valley of Mir forest, our neighbourhood on the right (west). Part of the city of Jerusalem in the distance.

Wow, today is the first anniversary of this blog. How the year has flown! The year has come full circle. This time last year I was commenting about the heat opening the pine cones and a flock of bee-eaters over the garden.

Temps ranged from 11.5 -20 degrees C, about 17 degrees on our walk. Winds westerly, 9-12 kt and humidity betw. 60-70 %

Today some observations are similar, others different. We've noticed that the pine flowers have spent most of their pollen and new green growth has sprouted from the same sprigs apparently.

Other news in the pine woods is not so good. Another fire was started in east woods near the crossroads. The firetruck came and took action, also issuing smoke masks and beaters to a bunch of local youths that were eager to help, including our sons.. who came home stinking of charcoal yet again. I'm proud of them, though! Thanks to all their efforts the fire did not spread far. Sadly,they also found a scorched clutch of chukar partridge eggs that had been caught in fire, at least ten eggs. These birds are prolific, they'll no doubt lay another clutch elsewhere, hopefully safer. My son told me the police had taken a few suspects back to the station.
I also wonder about the fate of nests in trees above the smoking ground.. all the collared doves, great tits, blackbirds and others trying to breed.. would they abandon? Seems likely.

Still, turtle doves were cooing in their regular eucalyptus nest site by the orchard and collared doves quite active. Many Eurasian jays about, foraging and some calling. Stone curlews heard about sunset in surrounding fields, both east and north. Nice surprise, a Tristram's grackle whistle heard from somewhere along the Ramallah bipass road. Come to think of it, that road with its (probably) artificially cut 'cliff' in the hillside immediately east of it is like a wadi for them.. the road is like a dry watercourse, no surprise we've heard them along that stretch so many times.

What else? A group of bee-eaters heard and partially seen over the Pistaccio orchard, a raptor seen briefly flying south.. didn't get a good view of it. Larger than falcon or sparrowhawk.. smallish Buteo type. Jackdaws and Hooded crows active today. Syrian woodpeckers and graceful warblers heard as well as blackbirds and greenfinches in song.

White spectacled bulbuls, sunbirds, house sparrows, laughing doves active in the gardens as usual. At the moment plants in bloom include myrtle, bougainvillea as well as Bauhinia, common honeysuckle and morning glory.

Chukar partridge eggs that got caught in the fire. A. Atwood.

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