Wednesday, March 23, 2011

23 March > 9 April

Happily Nurit/ Persian (or Turban) buttercup are back! We didn't see any last year but this year they are blooming in many places.

Wednesday 23 March

First corn poppies seen! three on woods side just past pumping station, amongst wild wheat, mustard and other vegetation, a bunch more on the verge of east valley dirt road, in usual place near sapling field but notably double or triple numbers in any previous season as far as I've noticed. Other usual site for them is by bunker rubble but didn't check there today.

Adult male gazelle seen just south of olive grove moving towards it, long horn one. Shortly after saw adult male heading into pines and cypress at very north end of east field though uncertain if same one or if it was the 'losing' male that has haunted that stretch in past.. Could have been switch over in olive grove region, light already getting dim.

As we passed look out corner I said ''look out for foxy!'' as we had seen one in that area passing by at dusk. Akiva expressed his doubt we'd see one in the failing light then seconds later pointed as a fox crossed the east watercourse dirt road and headed into the Pistacia orchard a few yards ahead of us! Second time this week that has happened.

Bats over valley road, a few spotted in last week.

As we came down from the hill I heard a European cuckoo call from direction of east watercourse and as we passed look out corner, several more calls from direction of owl glade/shaft. Also heard yesterday.

More calls of stone curlews after dusk today and yesterday and jackdaws, hooded crows making big noise over larger trees along east watercourse as usual these days. Collared doves some coos.

Also heard, great tits, Syrian woodpecker (yesterday) , blackbird song and graceful warbler calls by valley road both days.

Garden: melodious sunbird calls around dawn, house sparrow chirps before dawn from about 4.30 a.m. when still v dark. Laughing dove coos.

Saturday 26th March

Gazelles: 5 in the field beyond the almond row, (which , like most of the forepart of gazelle field is now a yellow riot of wild mustard of at least two different species. ) 3 more gazelle in east field just south of the small olive grove. All females and well grown young, no adult males visible.

Birds: garden, house sparrows, sunbirds, laughing doves, bulbuls, linnet call?

Forest: blackbird song, European cuckoo calling at the corner of the bank, near where the bee orchid grows (must check on that plant)

Now more clover about.

Monday 28th March

21 (+) mountain gazelle: Bachelor herd 16 grazing by north watercourse in eucalyptus grove near bat cave, varying ages from fully mature males to a younger males, horns only about a quarter the size. A little farther east more out in the open a group of at least 5 females and well grown young.

While viewing the females picked up sight of a fox which was making its way along the banks of the north watercourse, then headed across the field in the direction of the shaft.

Birds: greenfinches chaw, cooing collared doves, chatter of great spotted cuckoos every now and again, a Buteo overhead..

Sunday 3rd April

Several more Buteo seen, generally very dark body.

Today, 5 gazelle, north hillslopes, an adult female, an adult male, both by skyline though not together, then group of three we spooked, headed down hill.

Fox, yesterday heading down hill a little north of shepherd's trail under trees, brown/red body, paler face.

Crested larks on hillside, a few individuals seen, calling from rocks, flitting about, flying low. Collared doves, greenfinches about and vocalizing, Jackdaws , hooded crows foraging on ground on hill near top, Graceful warbler calls. Pair of great spotted cuckoos flew over hill, may have been scouting olive grove or other trees to north for suitable nests.
Stone curlew vocalizations after dark.

Vegetation: Persian buttercups (Nurit) (most not great condition compared with two years ago but blooming many places) , pink (hairy) and yellow flax on hill, Alcea various places, full variety of clovers over hill esp. star clover. Gundelia starting to open. Most of rest, wild grains and grasses.

yesterday: that nice specimen bee orchid found near old machneh up from corner picnic site same place third season now, several more on trail across valley road from there and down slope, but much shorter individuals. Also near there: toothed orchid and Ajuga.

Sat. 9 April.

Bee-eaters! First time we saw this season and first time I heard though Akiva thought he had been hearing them a few times over the past week. First about 12 over valley road and neighbourhood shortly after we went out and later about two dozen over neighbhourhood and pumping station closer to sunset.

Blackbird song in two places on the bank, one atop a cypress, another in an acacia farther toward the pumping station.

Also graceful warblers about, jackdaws and hooded crows as usual. Pair of kestrels flying over neighbourhood up from pumping station, circling over/about buildings.

Gazelle: 2 bucks in view near bat cave grazing in open. Those two bucks we've seen before in association or were there others of bachelor herd out of view? Aggravated sounding hyrax barking from atop a boulder up from pumping station. Could be just territorial, no fox or cat in view.

Garden: consistent over last few days: Bulbul heard melodious shortly before 6 a.m. sunbird soon after, house sparrows early, from around 5.30 , laughing dove later, around sunrise. Listening for the Orphean warbler we heard last year but not heard.

Haven't been out much over past week due to fall on hillside, smashed knee on rock, decided better to rest it till worst pain gone.

Vegetation blooming now: milk thistle, purple and white , more viper's bugloss, yellow milfoil

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

15 -21 st March

Micromeria type, (?) what I call ''minimint'' since the flowers are so tiny, barely 2mm across.

Borage family species found in middle of forepart of gazelle field, level with the bunker rubble.. Anchusa or related but could not find a satisfactory match on Sarah Gold's site so far.

These gorgeous little yellow jobs flourishing more than I've ever seen before around the edges of gazelle field, looks like member of Ranunculaceae , striking butterfly flower shape. In contrast the one Egyptian campion plant had very imperfect flowers this season. Neither seen last year due to the ploughing but this year all other vegetation doing very nicely, at least double the height of two and three years ago. Common mustard species, buckler's mustard, pheasant's eye, and now the chamomile daisies are starting to bloom, and a variety of Geranium and Erodium.

Tuesday 15 March

weather dryer, slightly warmer ~16 degrees C

: 1 alpha male treed slopes lower windsurfer. Then saw three subadults in field, ran off down towards olive grove where we saw 7 individuals, females and well grown young, but not sure how much overlap of the three and the seven. One or two probably counted twice- so 9-10 individuals

fox ran into Pistacia grove dusk by look out corner.

Row of mandrakes just off upper shepherd's trail about three quarters way up, hadn't seen them previous years, half a dozen.. All now have green berries.

Birds: hooded crows, jackdaws, swifts, blackbird song, collared dove coo,

Sunday 20 March

European cuckoo heard 4 x direction of Pistacia grove/east watercourse as heard from valley road dusk yesterday, also today from direction of shaft as heard from look out corner.

White breasted kingfisher? Heard several times in the last week along east valley watercourse, today up the hill to the east a little.

Two gazelle: up slopes shepherd's trail

Several blackbirds in song, great tit calls, jackdaw calls, also more stone curlew calls heard from the perimeters lately.

The firecrackers of Purim season seem to get louder every year, I really hope it does not cause significant nest desertions.

Monday 21st March

Well, the firecrackers don't seem to have disturbed the blackbirds who regularly sing so beautifully in the late afternoon in various parts of the woods and bank. Great tits and Graceful warblers also heard. Near the cistern, in the pine grove/eucalyptus grove area collared dove flight call heard for the first time this season. Jackdaws, Jays, hooded crows also seen.

About a week ago neighbours Dumas and Broide noticed flock of large white birds heading over. Dumas reported clear vocalizations so from that they'd be common cranes. Seems a bit early for storks. I need a number estimate yet.

Two gazelle seen grazing in field near security road, between small olive grove and windsurfer north slopes. Akiva caught glimpse of probable fox on ramp back up from valley road to back of houses, very brief but he thought he saw white tail tip. A few fox sightings lately but only very brief glimpses and when already dark or getting dark.

Meanwhile, plant growth continues to grow luxuriantly everywhere. I noticed many grape hyacinths popping up wild in front gardens, Palestine vetch festooning roadsides and many of a tiny mint, probably veined Savory, Micromeria nervosa, by valley road as well as mustard, chamomile, that long season common short yellow flowered legume flowering yet again. (above)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March : first two weeks

View by sapling field, looking roughly north along east watercourse Sunday 13th afternoon.

Bulbous Cranesbill, Geranium tuberosum

Above: member of cress/cabbage family blooming near shepherd's trail

Above: one of the vetches found on thorny burnet. One of Lathyrus or closely related? Other similar species blooming now are off white or salmon in colour.

Wednesday 2nd March

Gazelle: 1 seen near north watercourse, near bat cave. couldn't see if horns. Second was adult male in Pistacia grove.

porcupine: some scat found on trail from valley road north corner to dirt road. They tend to make scat on sloping trails like that.

Lots of flowering Euphorbia now, also a flowering broom by north watercourse in open, only broom seen yet, no foliage.. not spiky broom though. White broom is also in bloom now.
Stone curlew, jackdaws, graceful warbler, Tristram's starling, Syrian woodpecker
Have been hearing faint swift screams over the last few days, nothing definite, but this morning, thursday 3 March, Akiva saw one on his way out to work, just 1 over entrance to our street.

Thursday 3rd March

Saw my first swift of season definite! Flying over valley road. Also about, jackdaws, hooded crows, first cooing collared dove near pumping station. graceful warblers.

Searching for wild tulip western windsurfer slopes above treeline. Did find those single stem lilies as well as a very nice stand of Ophrys lutea and some pink butterfly orchids and patches of the blue purple cress. These four first seen of season. Still lots of asphodel and anemone. Every red flower was approached in hope of tulip but no luck today.. will try again! Most vetches now are the salmon coloured and pale but today found a nice deep purple one.. prob one of Lathyrus.

Saturday 5th March

gazlle? ch

First noticed Carmel bee orchids (by shepherd's trail) , small iris (on hillside above shepherd's trail)

noticed blooming over past week: pheasant eye

swifts heard, syrian woodpeckers, hooded crows and jackdaws about. Laughing doves and collared doves cooing.

Wednesday 9 March

Last few days was a mild chamsin. This broke this morning with cool, blustery winds, later also some hail. At time of our walk temps were down between 6 and 7 degrees C. winds about 6 knots, westerly/north westerly.

5 gazelle on hillslope under trees just south of shepherd's trail, females, well grown young including a subadult male, horns growing nicely, stopped and marked the place with scat..

Jays, jackdaws heard. No hyraxes out, we didn't expect them to be out in this damp and cold.

the small purple flowered Figwort, Scrophularia peyronii growing by side of valley road. I had seen those on hillside to north but first time I've seen it down nearer to home. Also noticed lately, in last week or two, a white Silene growing by our street.

Sunday 13 th March

Bulbuls again heard regularly in the garden esp. around dawn. Sunbird melodious calls, house sparrows chirps, laughing dove coos and foraging on the ground. Still hearing linnets in early mornings but not as much as before.

In the woods: Eurasian jays, Syrian woodpecker calls occasional, jackdaws and hooded crows esp. around dusk, blackbird song, graceful warblers in usual habitats,

3 adult male gazelle seen just west of bat cave, woods across from north watercourse, including one male with particularly long magnificent horns, larger than any I recall seeing, including the east field alpha male.

Bulbous cranesbill photographed today (above), various other Geraniums and Erodium blooming. Now wood sorrel and Palestine vetch now blooming. Cyclamen, asphodel, anemone, shepherd's purse, roman squill continue.