Monday, April 27, 2009

Sages, Thistles and the Windurfer Watercourse

This image of a yellow Phlomis (P. viscosa) flower was taken by Avremi. We found a whole stand of these half way up the watercourse that runs from the south saddle of windsurfer hill towards east valley. Also known as Viscid Jerusalem Sage and related to the purple Phlomis in 'sage valley' and more distantly to (true) Jerusalem sage, Salvia hieroscolymitana

Hope you're taking notes there will be a quiz about sorting out the sages! Just kidding. There is yet another sort of Jerusalem sage but we call them rabbis:)

I loved this one for its purple florets mingled with the yellow. Do click on it for better appreciation. There was another variety on the hillside that was all pure yellow but this one caught my eye first. It's blooming by the roadside now all around the neighbourhood. I thought it might belong to the genus Centaurea but I have not found a satisfactory match. Definitely one of the thistle related clan. Gila

This one is all over the place now, in valley and on hill. As you see the purple head is generally quite small and sometimes occurs in irregular 'nodules' around the main stalk, and always with those outlandish purple spines. I I.D.d it as Syrian thistle, Notobasis syriacus as nothing else I've found comes close. Avremi

Here's a cameo appearance of our two young photographers and adventurers, Avremi (left) and Moshe (right) sitting in the watercourse.. after heavy rain they'd be sitting in a pool with a little waterfall coming down behind them but now they're just pretending they're relaxing in a jacuzzi. Even though the watercourse is dry it is still the richest part of the hillside in terms of foliage and therefore always worth investigating.

Hyrax seen amongst the rocks at the corner of sapling field near the pumping station, skittered under the boulders at our approach. Nice buck gazelle in north west lower part of east field, ran across and entered the woods.

White Storks are indeed still around. We saw one wheel around over the look out corner area and I made out at least four in tops of various trees around. I might have been able to pick out four if my eyes weren't so tired! Are they steadily moving on and therefore losing numbers or have they simply spread out more?

I was also happy to hear, finally, after weeks of silence, several calls of a Syrian woodpecker coming from the east valley trees down from valley road. Many jackdaws active foraging in a flock up on windsurfer hill. Hooded crows also about. Watched and admired hobby pair fly high together over east valley for a while. Chukar partridges, swifts, great tits, graceful warblers heard. Probably also greenfinch and collared dove not sure, but definitely no turtle doves heard today. They seem to prefer to coo on warmer days.

Around buildings: sunbirds, laughing doves cooing, foraging at crumb corner, on the street and around. House sparrows, white spectacled bulbuls, feral pigeons.

Temp at time of walk: 17.6 degrees C, 68% humidity, wind NW 9.6 kt. Today's range 10.5-22 degrees C

I'm giving you another day to tease you with those red blobs. Admittedly not an easy one! I have posted a pic of it way back and mentioned it recently, that's all I'll say. It's not pomegranate or thorny burnet berries.

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