Thursday, December 25, 2008

Signs of snow

Flower of castor oil plant in the rain. A. Atwood, taken this afternoon in Talpiot. Click on pic to fill more of screen and get a better view of this peculiar spike of blue flowers.

It has been raining on and off a lot today, and in the morning and also again in the evening we glimpsed white in the rain, sleet or snow. It's certainly cold up in the clouds! Ground temps a bit warmer: Range: 5.5 - 7.7 degrees C.

Even so, I noticed quite a few garden flowers in bloom across the city including geraniums, rosemary, lavender, bougainvillea, blue phlox and others. The more interesting flower belonged to a native.. a stand of castor oil trees growing in the middle of Talpiot.

Birds noticed lately: Today, plenty town pigeons across the city, hooded crow in Talpiot, jackdaw flock vocal over buildings, house sparrows, laughing doves, several pairs just after midday at 'crumb corner' near the skip. Also calls of white wagtail, blackbird in the garden. Great tit heard in cover in town.

In the valley yesterday, *three* Eurasian sparrowhawks noticed over east end of north valley, stonechat at the bunker rubble but no black redstart though may be around. Eurasian jays about. Chiffchaff and graceful warblers about, Syrian woodpecker.

Some hyrax activity, one gazelle noticed yesterday running up by the bat cave. More clearing up of another large old barbecue site, we could tell the litter was old because of the condition of the plastic and in some cases it had actually been pulled underground. Earthworms will pull small stuff underground but these items seemed a bit large for them to manage and I wonder if the mole rats had been attempting to pull them under. This is one of the reasons we had not noticed this particular mess before.. the other, that at that place on the trail we are usually looking out over the north end of gazelle field and not back over that corner of wood. Still, we have our work cut out for us! We found a useful compromise between watching and cleaning up. Husband gathers recyclables usually plastic bottles. That takes only a few seconds to fill a bag, freeing him up for watching for wildlife while I spend a bit longer gathering the smaller items such as nosh packets, plates, cups etc. This way we miss minimum action.

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