Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Flowers, snails and other delights

Savyon (Senecio vernalis) now blooms in many places by the edge of valley road, in and about the stream bed. 13 petals on this one! (plus a very small insect which is probably a thrip)

Not sure what this is yet.. one of the very delicate purple flowers growing in mats of serrated leaved ground hugging vegetation. One of the geraniums? Each flower had five petals. The leaves of the round leaf geranium are becoming plentiful now as are those of monkswort.

Toadstools grow amongst young milk thistle and clover, grasses and other foliage. Caps about 4,5 cm in diameter. Akiva. Under pine cover just north of sapling field.

The flourishing of green vegetation in this season is always a delight to me. In this tiny window on sapling field ground cover a nice handful of species can be seen. Serrated pinnate leaves on the left are those of the purple flower.

Nice size snail found in the garden by the boys. It's alive, has just retreated into its shell for now, boy's finger for scale, perhaps hibernating at least temporarily. Right off I'd say it's a Roman snail (or close relative ) Helix pomatia which are used in Mediterranean cuisine though not in Israel as far as I know. (neither Muslims nor Jews eat them)

Wednesday 23rd December: Fox seen pretty much exactly same place as last week, north west lower corner of mid windsurfer hill slopes by treeline, this time heading in direction of Pistacio grove and cistern.
No gazelle today but two yesterday between north watercourse and bat cave stretch of rocks.. adult buck chasing another with shorter horns.. I got impression from sharp facial markings that it wasn't a female but a young male.

Blackbirds heard twice in song, one in gardens near house , another beyond pumping station.

First Asphodel! I don't remember seeing one in bloom so early last year. This was not far from the east valley watercourse in shade of pines just north of sapling field.

Saturday 26 Dec: sunbird singing in Bauhinia outside window early afternoon. laughing dove soft coos, house sparrow chirps.

White spectacled bulbuls just down from valley road as it was becoming dark , musical calls answered by more musical calls in trees down by watercourse, echo effect. Also some harsh social noises. Calls of chiffchaffs many parts of the wood(? ) calls of Chaffinches by shadiker colony. Pine just down from there brown/red leaves all over.. fire, or poisoned by stuff drained down hill? Acacia right next to it looks healthy though.

Jackdaws and hooded crows active as usual. We looked for hyrax all along valley road at the usual time but none about at all. Temps today ~9.5 -17 degrees C (just over 49 -~62.5 degrees F)

Sunday 27th December: Fox seen again. We left the loop where valley road becomes a dirt road and crosses the bridge, and crossed the watercourse where it descends the hillside there. From there we picked our way between the limestone, sprouting asphodel and other vegetation now really growing in. Thorny burnets and thyme filling out with leaves. The fox was down by the dirt road to our left and made its way up the hill ahead of us and up to our right. He looked like the fox we have seen a lot lately but not going on his usual path, south of the pumping station for a change.. he could have been spooked from that by a neighbour moving along the dirt road below, or, of course, his daily route could be complex and variable- or it could be another individual but the colouring was pretty much the same.

What do you call a group of Jackdaws? I'd coin the term "Snicker". A snicker of jackdaws - because that's what they seem to do when they all vocalize at once. Whether it's the correct collective term or not doesn't really matter.. we heard a flock snickering up on the hillside to the north. We also heard Syrian woodpecker, saw a pair of collared doves on a line near the pumping station, male with his thick neck and looking hopeful, heard graceful warblers vocalizing here and there, a group of rather tuneful small birds that may have been linnets but didn't get a good look at them, still, sounded like them, and hooded crows and feral pigeons were also about. Stone curlew heard from east field as it was getting dark and we were heading back up the hill home.

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