Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shiny leaf and predawn songster mysteries solved

Remember that shiny leafed plant with the purplish buds we found on the trail down to the north watercourse dirt road? Today we found another one, on the mid northern slopes of windsurfer hill. Note in both cases on northern slopes and pretty much in the open, though partially surrounded by boulders, thorny burnet and other vegetation. This one, however, had a fruit and this I recognised from a walk years ago with herbalist Miriam Asheri. I had not remembered the leaves well but that fruit looked just like that round fruit Miriam showed me back then. At home I looked it up for confirmation and it was .. mandrake! Mandragora officinarum. This looked a lot I thought that was pretty cool, this is a very interesting plant.

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The other plant of the day was a sun's eye tulip found on the western slopes of windsurfer hill (again, western slopes as we had found last season - pls check pics from last year or but a different location) Tulipa agenensis. I had checked the inside of a petal to see that it was indeed sun's eye.. there is a striking yellow edged black long petal shaped mark at the base of each vivid red petal.

Below: Spider found running on the east watercourse dirt road.

Wednesday: 24 Feb: Other wildlife today included 'family group' of gazelle on upper north east slopes of windsurfer hill.. adult male, female and quite well grown young.

We've been busy lately and we've also had a LOT of rain, hail, thunder so several days walks were almost rained out.

Monday 1st March: Husband saw Tristram's starling on top of a 6 storey block of apartment buildings up the hill, up on top of a solar boiler. I've seen them up there before on occasion, one time over 15 years ago a flock of over 20 whistling on a tall tv aerial , the most I've EVER seen in our neighbourhood.

Garden last days.. almost every morning sunbird calls just as it was getting light and just before that the beautiful lark/thrush song but have never managed to see the bird. either too dark (usually) or hidden from sight. Checked bird songs at and found it matched garden warbler, Sylvia borin, a common passage migrant all over the country at this time of year. Really pleased to have that I.D.d as it's been mystifying me this season and last .. and it's a first I.D. for our patch too!

Heard it again and listened a little more critically . comparing it with the recording.. there are some phrases with a rising and falling trill not heard in the garden warbler but more like those of a close relative, the Orphean warbler-S. hortensis, not unlikely.. it is also a common passage migrant and populations also stay to breed. As far as I'm concerned this is not closed. I want to find more related bird songs before I settle but I think we're warm.

Other birds seen or heard in last few days: greenfinches starting up in the pines, Eurasian jays, hooded crows, jackdaws, feral pigeons, blackbirds (much song on and off), graceful warblers,

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