Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Olive Grove

I discovered a few almond trees behind the olives, between them and the fence. The nuts are ripening inside their green cases. That and a hawthorn.

Today Akiva wanted to go to the olive grove since we haven't checked out that area in a while. We ascended the shepherd's trail from the east valley watercourse to emerge on the lower slopes of windsurfer hill and made our way through thorny burnet and rough rocky trails towards the grove. We stopped to watch a young gazelle ahead of us coming down from the lower slopes, passing in front of the olives then pausing as it reached the top of a stone wall. It paused, clearly understanding 'look before you leap' as it figured out its route, then, with a decisive tail wiggle it jumped to the lower level and went on its way.

We also found a whole family of graceful warblers emerging from the dense scrub in what clearly used to be a water channel between the fields. I really will have to post a view of this area as seen from the slopes of windsurfer hill so that you can see that as with gazelle field much of east field between the olive grove and the Pistacio orchard used to be an arrangement of little fields divided from each other by dry stone walls.

We followed the route of the gazelle pretty much after having found no new vegetation in the grove and came across a spread of these little plants in the lower part of the old fields, some kind of sage like herb.. it had no noticeable aroma when squeezed but it was all rather dry and yellowing, very few had any green in them .. yet still bravely trying to grow as it had in the past probably when it was being tended. It is probably a culinary herb.

We also found a magnificent mullein in the lower fields, blooming yellow five petal delicate flowers and the old dry stalks of last season packed along their length with seedpods. Also plenty globe thistle.

Some time along this walk we heard many bee-eater calls and saw to our wonder a beautiful flock crossing between north valley and the neighbourhood - I lost count at 60, there could have been a score more.. there were waves upon waves of them rippling and undulating and yet keeping a set distance from each other it seemed, not a tremendously tight formation but definitely a formation and always a delight to behold with their graceful delta wing shape and rainbow colours. Largest gathering this season yet though normal compared to last two seasons.

Grasses abound, these delicate tassels towering over the ubiquitous oats, by valley road.

Hyrax also noticed down from valley road and I forgot to mention the fox husband glimpsed between the pines between central trail and north valley trail yesterday afternoon.

Other birds: a pair of syrian woodpeckers in the eucalyptus by east field, looked out for more which would indicate a family but didn't see. Calls also heard.

Sunset greenfinch chorus around look-out corner was very lively today, plenty twittering, singing, chawing, all the local males getting in the act from the sound of it. That, together with a distant blackbird song, the cries of a stone curlew somewhere in gazelle field and singing from four different mosques on nearby hilltops was all quite surreal.

Garden: house sparrows, white spectacled bulbul and laughing doves, I didn't notice sunbirds today, they were quiet or I slept right through them but husband did notice one zip between window and Bauhinia. I also heard jackdaw calls early afternoon and as usual hooded crows were ubiquitous, a flock returning today from Hizmeh area towards sunset, heading back over lower slopes of windsurfer hill towards their roost in east valley. Feral pigeons about building tops as usual.

Weather: We left at ~6.50 p.m. temp then was 22.8 degrees C, humidity 63% wind WNW 0.9 kt. Range today was 17-26 degrees C. For a change I remembered to get the figures from the weather station just before leaving rather than read it off the line graphs at the end of the day as I usually do... then forgot the notebook to jot down obs in the field! No doubt I'll remember something I forgot to mention later, and I still have more burrs to pick out before tomorrow's expedition! I was amused to read that the invention of velcro was inspired by a man's observations of the burrs that stuck to his dog's fur. Those ''caterpillar" burrs definitely work just like that.

1 comment:

Susan said...

I have been seeing a lot of bee-eaters on my side of the valley in the last couple of days. Am wondering, is this a seasonal bird? I haven't seen them in a while, and now they are here in number.