Saturday, November 7, 2009

Crocus season

Crocuses everywhere and the usual shade, pale lilac. Where they bloom there are usually also lots of tiny autumn squill, like amethyst studs. I was trying to be careful not to step on any!

Asphodel foliage already surges up in a clump.. I noticed elsewhere where the earth had eroded that they sprout from an underground mass of branched rhyzomes, very much like those of ginger. You can also see evidence of the charring of last summer's fires but that has clearly not damaged them.

Crocus of a deeper shade found just off central trail. There was an area just to the west of the owl glade under the shade of the pines over which spring squill and crocuses were popping up in profusion. Another similar area was found by the trail between east watercourse dirt road and valley road, just north of the sapling field. Most other areas had no crocuses at all, occurrence was notably patchy. Colour range too- this above has one of the deeper shades found but most have a much paler lilac hue.

New flush of green by the east valley watercourse.

Saturday 8 Nov: First crocus of the autumn, one of the pale purple jobs just off central trail. Several autumn squill growing round about. Pleasing discovery. I'd checked this time last year in the blog and was looking out for them.

Graceful warblers active and vocal, blackbird alarm chaks, melodious white spectacled bulbul calls, No luck with black redstart at the rubble but I think we got there a little late.. already sunset and may have retired for the day if there. Stonechats also silent this time.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk seen flying over.

The water that had been flooding over central trail late last week had already pretty much dried up and was passable even in sandles.. not even much significant mud. Earthy mud is more common along the east valley dirt road at this time of year mainly because of the passage of vehicles and we walk along the stubbly edges to keep from getting our shoes clogged up with it.

Sunday 9 Nov: Today I was determined to get a sighting of a black redstart before he retires for the evening. Next year we really have to get that first sighting in early because I'm sure we missed when he came, last year he was already here by the end of October. I say 'he' as if it's the same individual. Possible, but of course, we can't be sure. We got there just before 4.40 p.m. when there was still some late afternoon sun (with very scattered altocumulus type clouds.)

He was there! :) To my delight, there was 'Blackie', perched on top of a rebar near one of the larger blocks of concrete. As we approached he flitted off into the eucalyptus grove for a little while but as we stayed under the pines, keeping still he returned to another rebar, flicking and bobbing and looking sharp.

We scanned both north and east fields for gazelle as well as the hillslopes for as far as I could see but no luck on gazelles today.

Greenfinches heard twittering briefly, Syrian woodpecker calls, blackbird alarm calls and quite a few graceful warbler calls. Stonechats also called from the fields at about sunset.

As we left neighbourhood we noticed feral pigeon flock swirling over the buildings looking agitated. Husband spotted a raptor that had probably upset them, from his description, a sparrowhawk. Laughing dove soft coos heard again, house sparrows and melodious white spectacled bulbul calls. Don't recall last time I heard a sunbird outside, not lately but we did see a bat at dusk and crickets still calling. Also slight increase in black millipedes lately.

Monday 9 Nov: Many autumn squill and crocuses by north valley watercourse, either side of the dirt road, between road and watercourse itself and the north facing hillslopes. Great tit scolding in an acacia, Syrian woodpecker calls, also Eurasian jay and graceful warbler, flock of ~50 jackdaws returning to roost, house sparrows gathering in the date palms as usual. White spectacled bulbul calling melodiously in the garden this morning when still dark. Husband noticed hooded crow flock mobbing something over by the cistern earlier today but didn't see what. Some large raptors passing through lately, could be one of those. Some Leaf warbler calls from pines, probably chiffchaff.

Again, no luck on gazelle but bat seen at dusk over valley road.

Tuesday 10 Nov: Unaccompanied by husband today: Walked down path from corner valley road, heard hyraxes skittering away.. many autumn squill and crocuses studded the new green like amethysts. Calls of jackdaws, hooded crows, Eurasian jays, bulbuls, Syrian woodpeckers, great tits, white wagtails, greenfinch.. latter two in flight over.. quite a bit of bird activity now in the valley, pre roost foraging and socializing. Continued round to look-out corner.. stopped by the flood slope to clean up some litter washed down from the road.. it's that time of year again, saw eldest son Aharon down there with a friend, doing stretches after athletic training.. he mentioned seeing many hyraxes out. No black redstart there as I arrived but I sat on a rock by the eucalytpus grove to wait a little and soon he appeared on rebar very close to where he was the other day. Shortly after heard stonechats in the fields beyond.

'Ticking' call before dawn today outside my window.. European robin again? I'd like to hear one sing here to be certain, as too dark at that time for any sighting! I've heard them sing in other parts of Jerusalem in winter (notably in the grounds of Mount Scopus hospital just before my son Moshe was born), and in the olives in the valley by Mount Zion. They are very territory conscious and will stake out a claim over winter and sing to protect it but I've yet to hear that on my patch. Leaf warblers about from calls I heard, no luck on gazelle.

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