Thursday, May 22, 2008

The land's answer to vandals

Fresh milk thistle foliage rises from the ashes of the fire of May 6th (yesterday by east watercourse)

I noticed another plant springing up there freshly today- looked like Alcea (a mallow) but not 100% sure

Temp range: 19-26.7 degrees C. Temp at about 6.20 p.m. : just under 23 degrees C , 48% humidity, winds westerly 11-15 kt. Sky clear.

Garden: white spectacled bulbuls, house sparrows, sunbirds, laughing doves.

Today: A dismaying sight. This will be called the fire of May 22nd and we'll also be documenting the land's recovery, we hope. A new fire (nothing to do with Lag BeOmer which was this evening, after the damage) had destroyed ground cover from the small fire we put out a couple of days ago, north of central trail to owl glade and back around all the way to gazelle field. The centre of gazelle field (that part partially enclosed by the old stone walls) and the north east grazing ground were all charred. The forepart of the field and the north grazing grounds were still thankfully untouched. The fire service had come and done what they could to limit the spread but the fresh westerlies had carried the flames quickly. We saw the alpha male gazelle in his once favourite patch in the north east, picking his way over the ashes, apparently nuzzling the ground as if there was still some grazing left. What a sad sight. There is still plenty grazing for him but this was a blow to his territory. We reckon well over 10,000 square metres of ground cover lost, hard to tell, perhaps much more. The pines and almonds were fine, too moist to burn apart from the far acacia in gazelle field- might have sustained a little damage. The hawthorns and pomegranates also seemed fine. I posted a bulletin about it in our neighbourhood e mail list. A number of scattered hooded crows and a small group of jackdaws were busy foraging over the burnt ground, possibly picking out some roast mole crickets or other barbecued goodies.

Bee-eaters over the pistaccio orchard, eucalyptus grove and gazelle field, at least twenty. Stone curlew
active and vocal, heard and seen wheeling between east field and north gazelle field. Greenfinches swung into chorus at about five to seven, much twittering and chawing but another little song was really intriguing me from somewhere in the eucalyptus grove. It sounded like a chaffinch! Chaffinches are normally winterers here, The Lebanon and Israel are just south of their breeding range but the last couple of days I've been hearing this song, one I've heard many times in the past, and becoming more sure it's a chaffinch, though we didn't manage to get a sighting. We'll be on the look-out!

Syrian woodpeckers were also vocal and active, a hoopoe was seen flying south quite low over gazelle field. Collared dove and turtle dove active and cooing. Feral pigeon flock on the wing over east valley.

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