Saturday, January 9, 2010

A new bird for the patch and other delights.

Male hawfinch.. this gorgeous image was captured by Ruthie Schueler. This was the bird of the day! First time I've ever seen it on my patch! Three of them. Always worth checking the tops of trees at this season. Usually I see chaffinches (as today) , occasionally linnets but these, wonderful! Easy to recognise from some distance with the black around the relatively massive bill and the clear white stripe slashing across the wing.

Below, thorny burnet in bloom in many places, red tufts are female flowers above, and stamens of male flowers further down. Many stalks were like this.

Below, first golden drop of the season. (Podonosma orientalis, one of the Boraginaceae) This one was growing by a wall just down from the street across the road, near the apartment buildings. There are quite a few clumps along that stretch.

Saturday 9th Jan:

About houses: sunbird (squeaks from dawn) , hooded crows and jackdaws heard, laughing dove coos, feral pigeons and house sparrows about the houses as usual.

In the forest.. great tits.. various calls and some song. Graceful warblers, various calls. Chaffinch calls. Large bird over middle of east woods.. from shape and flight I'd guess long eared owl though we didn't get a good view of its head. Stone curlew calling in the evening from direction of east field.

Buckler's mustard is starting to flower by valley road and many more flowers noticed on thorny burnet.. male and female on same stalks in many cases, must get pic. Another anemone in the middle of fore part of gazelle field, near dry stone wall.

Sunday 10th Jan: Boys accompanied me on the walk for a change since husband had a business meeting. On the way along valley road saw a few adult hyraxes down on the boulders.
Birds pretty much as yesterday.. lots of activity from sunbird now that the honeysuckle is back in bloom, squeaks from dawn and other calls throughout the day.

There was lots of tidying up to do by the bunker rubble due to careless weekend picnickers and I totally lost sight of the boys.. I know they'd made their way towards the cistern but now they were gone. I was baffled, the fields were empty.

I realized to find them I had to think like a boy.

I walked under the cistern pine and looked up.. they were WAY up in there, at least 40 feet or more. The foliage is so broad and dense I could not see them from farther off. A mother's terror! Climbing up is always so much easier than climbing down so I encouraged them to take their time and not take any chances on the descent. The branches were conveniently spirally arranged, they'd just ascended as if it were a spiral staircase and fortunately the descent was about as easy. They told me there was sort of a crow's nest arrangement up there which would be ideal for a zip line.. all they needed was some cable. Where could they get cable? I had no idea but this is one of Moshe's pet fantasy projects that he's always wanted to set up.

The cisterns were still pretty much at the highest level they could be, buckler's mustard was flowering by the roadside and I spotted yet more red anemones growing just up the bank on the east side as well as a fine white sprinkle of cymbalaria speedwell blooms along the opposite verge. Increasing lush growth of all sorts and a breakthrough for me as I have finally I.D.d that purple flowered plant with the fern like leaves as Erodium acaule.. no English name I could find but a kind of storksbill, which I had guessed. (one of the geraniums).

Blackbirds and bulbuls calling in east valley pines as we made our way back up central trail home.

Monday 12 Jan:

Most exciting thing today, well, for me, was the sight of three hawfinches in the top of some cypress by the tree line. Two at the top of two different trees, the other a foot or so farther down from the first. Akiva tried to approach to get a pic but they took fright and flew off toward the north/east. I've seen hawfinches a few times at the JBO (south of here a few miles) but never on my patch till today so I was quite thrilled!

We headed south after the bridge for a change, then turned east up the hill, along the watercourse that comes down from the saddle between windsurfer hill and villa hill. This had the natural jacuzzi I mentioned. A couple of hundred jackdaws and hooded crows rose, fell, swarmed, flocked around the top of the hill.

Coming down we encountered yet another cistern that we don't recall noticing before. Hazardous if you are walking there in the dark, one could easily fall in and injure an ankle, but quite easy to climb down into and out of without ropes or any assistance. I checked all around inside and noticed the walls were again daubed with some kind of stone like mortar , the inside was pretty round and flask like though not as deep as those with boulders on top, no side passages.. I was careful to watch out for snakes and scorpions but saw no living thing. There weren't even any clumps of maidenhair fern anywhere around.

Birds included: garden: the usual as above.. woods: Syrian woodpecker, a kestrel on an eruv pole by the saddle watercourse, great tits , one in loud song, White spectacled bulbuls, blackbirds, (two tzeeting at each other on a line, amongst others) , graceful warblers, stone curlew later as it was getting dark and again not long before dawn.. their vocalizations are definitely picking up as the day length steadily increases.

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