Friday, February 10, 2012

Armchair Ornithologist

Shalom, chaverim! While Elul and I have been very busy not only settling in, but also now with Ulpan, we've also had time to just sit together and gaze out the window. As I've mentioned before, it's been fascinating to watch the cast of characters in our neighborhood go about their daily business. We're pretty sure now, for example, that the "blondini" (blonde) who lurks on the sidewalk in the early morning hours is, sadly, a druggie. On the other hand, we have fun watching the daily "What Not To Wear" transformation of "Camo Lady Dogwalker," who wears a camouflage bathrobe to walk her dog, then changes clothes and looks every bit the sharp-dressed woman when we see her later, leaving for work.

Aside from people watching, we also enjoy paying close attention to the feathered residents of our neighborhood. Here's a little beauty I saw a few days ago while walking to the "Super Hof Ha'Dekel" (literally "Super Beach The Dekel") supermarket, "Dekel" being the name of the family who owns the store.

Not a great shot, but it gives you an idea of how fast its wings are moving.
By the way, here's a shot of the plant from which that hummingbird was sucking out nectar. I've scientifically dubbed it "Nahariyus Plantus Weirdus."

Every time I pass this plant, I expect to spot one of those creepy egg-like things from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"!

Leaving disturbing sci-fi imagery behind, this is a shot of a hummingbird taken by Yoav Perlman. Yoav is a real ornithologist in Israel, and has a fantastic English-language blog at,  which I highly recommend if you are actually interested in birds, rather than in my random and uninformed observations. Yoav's brightly-colored hummingbird is, presumably, the opposite gender to "my" hummingbird, but I've seen them both--they are gorgeous!
These hummingbirds are larger than what we used to see in Nevada. Israeli hummingbirds are only slightly smaller than a swallow. African or European swallow? I don't know! Arghhh....!
Here's a shot of a boring old pigeon I saw in the parking lot  As an avid pigeon lover, I'm sure boxing champ Mike Tyson would disagree and find this bird fascinating, but me? Not so much.

This pigeon is so boring that I can't even think of an amusing caption!

Another type of bird, called the "petronia," is featured in Yoav's picture below. However, this bird is very rare and not found in this part of Israel at all. I put the picture in, though, because it looks very similar to the sparrow-type birds we see flying around our building. Our little birds are just a bit browner, and not so pretty.  They particularly like to go into a hole in the wall left when our neighbors had their external air-conditioning unit removed!

"Hey! Turn your fricking radio down, I can't hear myself cheep!"
It's very entertaining to watch the local crows. They are quite good at gathering together and sounding the alarm when a person, a dog, or a cat comes near their territory, and make quite a racket until the interloper clears off. They also are very good at gathering things like bread, twigs, and nuts in  their beaks and flying around with them, sometimes appearing to deliberately taunt other birds with their loot. The grey feathers on their backs make them look like they've draped grungy hoodie sweatshirts over their shoulders to keep warm, which is what we've been doing as well this winter. I can just see the headline now in "Women's Wear Daily": "Fashion Look 2013: Crow Chic Flies on Runway!"

One of the Crow family. Maybe it's Russell, Sheryl, or Vel (geddit?!).

Finally, the best for last. We also have frequent visits by Israel's national bird, the "hoopoe." The hoopoe looks like Woody Woodpecker when his Mohican hairdo flips up, but he's as tough as an Israeli Clint Eastwood! (Thanks to for this image.)

Dirty Hoopoe: "C'mon, punk...make my Shabbat shalom!"

Lift Update: Our lift is still stuck on a ship in Haifa. We are now on day three of a national general strike, which means the all the banks, post offices, trains, ports, libraries, and municipal offices around the country, are all closed. And of course, then there will be another one or two days of closure because of Shabbat, which starts today.

There is literally no one at the port to unload the ship, much less transfer our payment to the shipping agent (because the banks are closed), so we are in a holding pattern. The shipping agent in Haifa told us it would take seven to fourteen business days to have our stuff delivered, but of course that timetable only begins when the strike ends. So we have a few more weeks of monotonous wardrobe and cooking choices ahead of us!

Shabbat shalom, chaverim! And as usual, if you can't see the images mentioned in this blog post, go directly to the website at .

P.S. I promised Yoav Perlman that I would send him the link to this post. I'm sure he will make corrections to what I am sure will be my numerous errors in identifying these birds!

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