Thursday, April 2, 2009

Before, after, surprise visitor

This photo by friend Ruthie Schueler. I was thrilled and delighted to see a single White stork Ciconia ciconia foraging in the far north west end of gazelle field. We looked around for other flock members (perhaps others were over the hill in the Jerusalem sage vale) but we didn't see any. They will be passing through on migration now, on their way to their breeding grounds in Europe and Asia.

I have watched migrating flocks fly over Jerusalem many times but this is the first time I've seen a touch-down in the Jerusalem area.. and on our patch! Lovely! As we approached, looking for other flock members as we went, the bird took off and flew over the trees, spreading magnificent snow white and black wings - good to know not injured. It would prey on grasshoppers, small amphibians and reptiles it could find in the area.

I spotted another Buteo perched on a boulder a little farther to the north. Not long after the stork took off it too headed up for the trees.

White spectacled bulbul and sunbird were active in our Bauhinia tree this morning, no doubt the blossoming is bringing more insect life to the tree. Swifts, collared doves, hooded crows, jackdaws, laughing doves and greenfinches also active today. Bat seen near look out corner shortly after sunset.

Below.. the recovery of gazelle field, below.. as it was on 13 July last summer.. today, 2nd April...

The tree in yellow bloom in front of the pines is an wattle acacia, as is the far tree a little way to the right of the pines. The larger tree on the right is an almond, now in full leaf and immediately to the right of that a hawthorn, then another almond farther back. We noticed one hawthorn rooted quite low down in one of channels was in full leaf but the one on the east side was too damaged by the fire to bud on its main body. It was far from dead however as many twigs bearing leaves were already sprouting up from ground level. The larger pomegranate tree was also budding nicely, not sure about the smaller one yet.

Below, a nice patch of Nurit, Turban/Persian buttercup, and below that, detail of their leaves.

compare with the leaves below which are calanit (Anemone coronaria ) base leaves.

the most obvious way to tell them apart though are the triangular orange/red sepals under the petals of the nurit but completely absent on the calanit.

Yesterday's solution: The dark body at the bottom of the pic is the Dead Sea, into which the Jordan river flows. The dark town to the left of the river is Jericho, or called Yericho in Hebrew, an ancient town and still inhabited. It's a significant oasis town down there as a number of freshwater springs arrive there from the mountains including Wadi Qelt, which flows down from Jerusalem. Yericho itself comes from a Hebrew word meaning 'fragrance' , probably because flowers could grow there in an otherwise desert environment.

Mystery pic of the day:

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