Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New green amongst the greys and browns.

This is one of the Heteropteran plant bugs found on some composite by valley road late this afternoon. Not sure of the species, or even the genus. It resembles bugs in Lygaeus and also Spilostethus but unfortunately my pic of the back was too blurred to post, (though would be good enough for I.D. if I had found a match) The side view was lucky, that plant was waving in the wind vigorously most of the time and almost impossible to get any focus.

Back featured a grey cross on orange background with a number of regularly placed black dots, rump section black white a large white dot.

This green growth was my favourite find of the day. Found amongst the pines between central trail and the north watercourse dirt road and near the base of a cypress, from the leaf configuration it looks like a young carob tree, Ceratonia siliqua less than a metre high! The leaves are wonderfully shiny and green protected from the dryness by a waxy layer and growing nicely , I do hope this tree flourishes. There are many carobs in other parts of Jerusalem but this is the first I've seen in the Mir Forest. I am a huge fan of the sweet chewy bean pods which have sustained me on walks on many occasions. I have never seen it as a chocolate substitute but as a delicious food in its own right and now I am wondering if I am the cause of this tree since I may have spit out the very seed that grew this sapling on some walk a while back...

The hard round seeds themselves are also pretty neat because as well as being commercially useful in their own right they are the origin of the carat weight.

I don't know if any of you wanted to see the head of the hoopoe we found, which is rather sad, bony and gruesome for many, though quite interesting to a zoologist like myself, but here I share with you a few feather of the wings and tail. I noticed that the black stripes on the wings have a brownish hue whereas those of the tail are shiny bluish black like a crow.

Below: more seedpods, a regular feature of the forest now as well as swaths of dried oats, deep blue and spiny eryngium, thorny burnet, the berries dried brown by now, the occasional glorious burst of golden thistle and now many cushions of thyme blooming a range of hues from deep purple to lighter lavender or bluish purple. These are buzzing with honey bees, wasps and others but sadly my honey bee on thyme pics were too blurred.. no doubt I'll get more opportunities this season.

Gazelle: No luck today.
Hyrax: A couple seen at the colony down from Shadiker and alarm calls from there later, I think because of children playing nearby.
Mole rats are already excavating the burnt patch by the path down from valley road to north valley dirt road, their brown mounds humped all over the charred area. These are not moles but true rodents, by the way. Spalax sp.

Reptiles: gecko heard outside window last night.
Bee-eaters: heard incessantly late afternoon to sunset.. a dozen or so seen flying up over north valley towards ridge and later as we returned to neighbourhood a flight of nearly 30 wheeling around over neighbourhood edge, lovely sight if anyone on the streets was paying attention!

Hobbies: shrill call from pines where east and north valleys meet. Also another call heard from Roscoe highrise buildings, from sound of it, a kestrel. Those buildings are frequent haunts, I think kestrels manage to breed there every year as well as the high rises in the centre of the neighbourhood by Petri gardens.

Swifts, chukars: not noticed at all today.
Turtle doves: coos in various parts of the pine woods.
Blackbirds: Song heard. Collared doves: coos and generally active in many parts of the pinewoods.
Eurasian Jays: very vocal in many parts of the woods.

Feral pigeons: tops of buildings and in flight between as usual, and one flying to nest in handy eave like location UNDER a building on pillars.
Graceful warblers: active and vocal, seen foraging. Great tits: calls in trees to south of north valley dirtroad.
Greenfinches: Heard in the pines, twittering and chawing.
Jackdaws: not noticed for sure today.. and I actually remembered a little notepad and pencil today to jot things down.
Hooded crows. A number seen as well as calls over various parts of the valley, they seem to patrol the area.
House sparrows:Gardens and edges of habitation as usual, foraging for grass seed or anything else edible
Laughing doves: Cooing in the gardens and several pairs at crumb corner.
Stone curlews: Heard in north part of gazelle field.
Sunbirds: Heard calling musically outside window in the garden since before dawn
Syrian woodpeckers: occasional calls in the pines
White spectacled Bulbuls: Calls in the garden since before first light ~4.30 a.m. as well as calls amongst the acacias by north valley watercourse.

Also a mysterious unfamiliar bird down there about sunset, such a tease because we had to get back home and not time to investigate but carrying clear ''tzeee suuuuuu! " call, repeated every at least ten seconds. Hope we find it again!
Husband also saw a large bird land in a tree up by the ridge, thought one of the
Buteos but landed out of sight and the crows that arrived there a little later did not get it to fly up.

Weather: range today 16.5 to just over 26 degrees C (steadily dropping over last three days as you see), Time of walk: not long before 7 p.m. ~23 degrees C. humidity 66%, wind W/NW 6-9 kts.

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