Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The 'Hamsin has broken

Clouds on the brisk westerlies at sunset.

Yesterday's high temperatures broke, today's peak was over 10 degrees C lower. 'Hamsin is Arabic for 50 because it is said there are about 50 such days of heat and easterly winds spread over the summer. In Hebrew we call it a Sharav though the term 'Hamsin is well known and popular. In Jerusalem we get them in quite a mild form since we're up in the hills but peaks in lower altitude parts of the country can be up to 10 degrees higher than yesterday's peak.

Today's range: ~16 -23 degrees C. Humidity 63% (over 90% before midnight), winds westerly veering wsw. By sunset some cumulus was rolling in from the west. A hamsin in the fall is often followed by a thunderstorm but the cumulus at this time of year seldom release their load.

The Bauhinia in the garden is already in 'bean mode' and those beans starting to pop, a sound that sounds like someone cracking a twig or a sunflower seed.

Quite a few plastic blags had been blown down to into the woods and fields. I filled a medium sized plastic bag with them as well as some other litter. A few plastic pop bottles we tossed in the cage for recycling.

Gazelle noticed on the skyline to the north and a nice pile of fresh dung at the north end of gazelle field just beyond the pylon line and short of the lower slopes, probably left by the alpha male guarding the area.

At least two dozen bee-eaters over look-out corner area hawking just above canopy level, possibly also after flying ants. We also saw one perched on the dry stone wall near the large cistern pine, and another actually on the ground in the charred area just beyond the cistern, probably after emerging ants on the ground.

Plenty stone curlew vocal on the slower slopes and one spotted on the ground (it was walking, otherwise I wouldn't have seen it). 'Chee' call of greenfinches in eucalyptus of look-out corner, turtle dove coos, collared dove coos and on the wing here and there, syrian woodpecker calls. Blackbirds about as well as Eurasian jays, graceful warblers and white spectacled bulbuls. Chukar partridges heard down in north valley.

The squirting cucumber is still pretty much in bud and there is another amazing xerophytic plant along valley road, so we're anticipating their opening. There are several species of mint about and the Israeli thyme is still in gorgeous and fragrant bloom. I'm reminded I should look for cinnabar moth caterpillars on the ragwort. These I raised in the U.K. and have seen the larvae here too. The adult moth is crimson and dark grey, not large but striking, and the caterpillars are striped like tigers. Black millipedes are very plentiful right now, gliding along like pieces of animated thick black boot-lace.

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