Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thurs: Tribute to successful species

One of the most wildly successful members of the pea family, the humble but wonderfully fragrant clover, this now starting to bloom by the sapling field. This is probably a variant of white or Dutch clover Trifolium repens, possibly the inspiration for the shamrock emblem. How timely!
my pic for a change.

Aleppo Pine, Pinus halepensis. I think these are the male pollen producing cones. This is the dominant tree of the Mir forest and of other forests around Jerusalem, Yaar Biriah and other parts of the country. It is found all around the Mediterranean and is also doing quite well in Southern California and Australia. Resin from this pine is used the flavour the Greek wine, Retsina and its seeds are also edible in season. (Y.T.)

An umbelliferous plant blooming quite happily for the last week or so in concentrated stands in the open along the east watercourse up to look out corner. I.D. as yet uncertain but not quite like the carrot related umbellifers, some of which are just starting to bloom near sapling field. (Akiva)

Milk thistle foliage seems to have doubled in height over the last week or so and are just now starting to bloom. These are abundant along the bank by valley road, along with wild mustard and viper's bugloss now also blooming.

Delicate pink tinted Silene is blooming by the roadside in many places. This is a campion of the Caryophyllaceae family. I took these first for S. vulgaris but now I'm thinking its S. dichotoma, the forked catchfly.

A member of a very well known genus, Ranunculus (marginatus?), otherwise known as buttercups, now blooming in many places especially in the more open northerly parts of the area. We have a joke that the area has all the elements of the fire swamp from 'Princess Bride' : Rodents of unusual size (the mole rats), 'lightning sand' (the thick mud at the north east end of gazelle field, though not so deep as to be really dangerous), the spontaneous fires and now Princess Buttercup herself! 'Of course we can survive, you're just saying that just because nobody ever has!'

Today Akiva and I walked along valley road to the pumping station, looking out for hyrax, but none active. Could be the recent rain has kept them indoors, it's been drizzling on and off all day.

We (Akiva and I) cut through the sapling field, walked along the rough trail just west of the watercourse to look out corner, scanned for gazelle but found none, then headed back to valley road along central trail.

Birds however, have been active. A sunbird was heard calling in our garden much of the day and foraging in the Bauhinia and other foliage. Several pairs of laughing doves were at crumb corner, hooded crows were about and noisy around the middle of east valley, one making repeated woodpecker drum like call. Husband glimpsed a Buteo hawk through the trees up there, no doubt the cause of all the crow noise.

Collared doves
cooing, blackbird in song in the garden and in the woods on and off all day, white spectacled bulbuls foraging and calling, graceful warblers also active, house sparrows active along the street as usual. Just after sunset as we reached the crossroads I heard a couple of distinct calls of European cuckoo from back up the trail to the ruins- headed up there a way and listened but didn't call again.

New contributor today, Aharon, my eldest, found this on windsurfer hill earlier today, snapped it with his cell phone. Can you see what this is? Click on it to see it much larger size, that should tell you :)

Temp range today: 6-15 degrees C though crickets already singing in the evening. Temp about 12 degrees when we headed out at about 5 p.m. humidity ~50%, winds WNW and light.

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