Tuesday, February 24, 2009

First chamomile and other delights

Shepherd's purse Capsella bursa-pastoris developing its characteristic heart shaped seedpods. These are used in herbal teas to stop/slow heavy bleeding and are traditionally used by women after childbirth.

Five (or 6) gazelle, a group of three making their way up the east end of the hillside westward from gazelle field, two females (or a female and well grown young) followed by an adult male. A little later two more gazelle along the same track, also not adult males. Not long after an adult male was spotted on the skyline, which may have been the first adult male if he changed course and ran a way, or may have been a different individual.

I heard chukar partridge chuckles from the direction of the north valley woods, blackbird alarm calls (at sunset), great tit in song, collared dove high on a wire over north part of gazelle field. Several pairs of laughing dove were feeding at crumb corner.. husband also noticed a pair of ornamental doves there too which may or may not have been already feral. He also noticed white spectacled bulbul by one of the snake paths earlier.

Large flock of jackdaws swarming in the sky like starlings almost, over Hizmeh towards sunset, going on 200 individuals. Hooded crows about as usual as well as the usual piping calls in the pines which I think are chiffchaff contact calls though they're so hard to spot amongst the needles. Lark briefly heard north end of north gazelle field, hill slope area.

We started along central trail then at owl glade cut across country to check out the foliage. All this area was burnt in the fires but there was no sign of that now and plenty asphodel, roman squill, pale Nonea and red anemone growing.

Gazelle field has a heavier, damper soil and a wider range of vegetation though it too was burnt last summer. Evidently a great deal survived somehow in the ground as too much growing now to account for seeding from elsewhere. Totally amazing how seeds and other plant parts survived the temperatures they had to endure but they evidently did.

I noticed the numerous little white flower heads were developing seed pods and we decided to get a pic but it was only when we examined the pic at home that I realized what I was seeing. Young shepherd's purse seedpods! I'd used this stuff to make tea many times after births. I had thought the flowers were Nasturtium officinale based on the ID of a pic of a flower head Moshe took in the woods in the first week of February. Certainly the flowers are quite similar, and they are the same family, (Brassicaceae) but the leaves are very different. I want to check the flower heads again tomorrow in the field to see how they compare with Moshe's pic. I also hunted again for pheasant's eye but found none. Lots of another relative, Buckler mustard, everywhere, roadside verges especially but also many parts of gazelle field (as well as some either white or common mustard). First chamomile Anthemis spotted! This pretty daisy like plant is another favourite for teas and grew last year in profusion in the field. They're not supposed to start blooming till March but this one didn't want to wait!

At the north end of gazelle field is a wide but quite low (you'd have to bend over to walk through) natural arch in the rock which I checked out for vegetation. Some old Inula, golden drop and then a few clusters of maidenhair fern Adiantum capillus-veneris on each side, close to the ground. This is the second place I've seen this plant in the whole area, the first being the bat cave.

Moshe having fun on the rocks by the hidden watercourse.. taken last week, added here just for fun:)

Tues: range 8-13 degrees C, at about 4.40 p.m. when we headed out it was 11.6 degrees C, humidity ~60%, winds NW1.7 kt, sky totally clear in contrast to the cumulus we've been having last few days.

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