Thursday, March 6, 2014

February, March 2014

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8th Feb, Shabbat, first Almond blossom seen open!  Valley trees, the smaller one on other side of waterway had much more flowers than the large one.

 Temps getting into early 20s early afternoon and hot enough to cause mild sunburn out all day..

the early small headed purple thistle we see by roadside most years is absent but a bunch seen closer to Pisgat Zeev

increasing amounts of esp asphodel and also gorgeous specimens of red anemone about first seen a week or so ago but now more and more.

12th Feb for first time this season : fumitory (Fumaria densiflora?) by road usual place, a white catchfly same regular area but no sign of any henbit deadnettle usual now.

Thurs 13 Feb  seen for first time .. spare ground by our (edge of neighbourhood ) road this season .. Egyptian alkanet

Gagea commutata.. already everywhere now about a week,  Gagea chlorantha.. small numbers just a few days ago. wild mustard also spotted this week.. White speedwell from beginning of this week,

Chaffinches still about, chukars heard, robins heard.. in Pisgat Zeev a few days back heard song of sounded like blackcap.. also chiffchaff.. some other, could be Sardinian warbler as their calls, as heard in Malkishua , heard in area.. in parks.  Calls, a little song and glimpses of European robin. 

Today (13th) calls great tit.. song several times in last couple of weeks. Sunbird song .. also now this week greenfinches have started to twitter and chaw and collared doves coo.  today by east watercourse ring neck parakeet calls, reached crescendo.. either dramatic territorial encounter or mating ?

 March 1 

Akiva found dead diadem snake by valley road, possibly killed by someone taking it for a viper.
great tit song, chaffinches still about, hoodies, jackdaws, syrian woodpeckers, ring neck parakeets more active and vocal lately, as are stone curlew which we heard at dusk on our trudge back up to the neighbourhood. Sardinian warbler calls heard.

plants: found the odd bee orchid, several of them,  up from the picnic site at the north east bend of valley road.. shrubby rest harrow blooming again and buckler mustard noticed. Lots of spurge cushions nice and yellow, at least four kinds of vetchlings in bloom now, purple, white, yellow and peach (the ciliate), more funitory, ramping? white and purple/crimson.

before today in last week or so: a little more greenfinch and collared dove activity, first orchid of the season noticed about a week ago, carmel orchid down from valley road, also now lots of Roman squill and the pines are starting to flower.

March 3rd.. mad dusty, levels exceeded 650 micrograms per cubic metre.  stone curlew activity heard in evening, 10.30 ish.

March 4th .. C & P bulletin from my Mir Forest facebook page:

 early afternoon and a little cooler than yesterday but MUCH less dusty, just in the 200s now.. had a little walk cross country from the big acacia on valley road down to the north watercourse dirt road and back up, checking stuff along the way and listening. The usual house sparrows, feral pigeons, laughing doves, jackdaws and hoodies in and at the edge of the neighbourhood.. getting into the woods quite a few great tit calls, some song, chaws from greenfinch, a brief burst of chiffchaff song and then the strident call of a great spotted cuckoo! So they're back.. brood parasites.. here to trick the hooded crows into raising their young. Gorgeous bird though.

the flowers!  And orange tip butterflies! I don't recall ever seeing them on the patch before.. certainly haven't photographed them.. and I didn't take the camera! A pair fluttering about each other and more and some other Pierid I'm not sure if I can ID yet.  Turned out to be female orange tip.  Meanwhile.. back to those flowers... Green orchid! Ophrys lutea.. Finally, have expected to see those for a bit.. North east facing slope there.. came across a nice little stand of buttercups in shallow soil on a big boulder.. and then on the softer earth a whole spread of blue pimpernel, so many it was suddenly difficult to find a place to stand without treading on any.. and of course, still lots of asphodel and red anemone.

March 5  - Eurasian jays calling in the trees, greats tits, some chaffinches, hooded crows and jackdaws about.
Soon spotted a buck gazelle across north watercourse, gazing back at us.. Starbuck *longed* to chase him but we wouldn't let her. Another gazelle a little farther along to the east running by the bat cave. Hyraxes scampering by valley road and slopes below, and heard their complex territorial barking song as the light fell. You can just hear it at the end of the video but hard to make out, the pickup wasn't that good. Heart pod hoarcress is blooming again and I found a nice stand of yellow pheasant's eyes as well as many of the usual red.
  Checkered beetle : Cleridae, Trichodes (nobilis ? ) on head of small sp of Apiaceae near north watercourse dirt road, shaft area.

March 6th
 late afternoon cool/mild, slight north westerly breeze. Headed up north watercourse a little way today. Pink butterfly orchid blooming by north watercourse, various storksbills, Bulbous cranesbill, Geranium tuberosum. will post pics, still some cyclamen and the large arum Arum palaestinum is finally blooming its weird dark hood and spathe. Some hyrax alarm barks, calls from great spotted cuckoos I hope the flip mino has recorded decently this time. Acanthus and wood sorrel blooming. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

December 2013,Jan 2014

10th Dec

Lots of black kites, a few white storks,  cattle egrets and jackdaws on the landfill,  Lesser grey shrike on line near road turn off to Tirzah , where we saw the lg bee-eaters last time, larks, prob crested, and spur winged plovers on open flat ground by that road,

Spur winged plovers in fields on approach, a wheatear, yes even this time of year, hoopoe glimpsed by Akiva

7th Jan

Sede Terumot
later in the afternoon, between 3 and 4 . New birds there:  two teal drakes on the water,  a wader across the water on bank, preening, can't be sure but matches best greenshank.  Also, for first time there circling about and over, sometimes high over water, sometimes low  but not seen landing, a lone adult  gull of herring or LBB size but back intermediate in greyness. Couldn't see leg colour. Several pied kingfishers about, active and vocal, in tree, on banks and flying about, one caught fish and flew up to tree branch to eat it. A white breasted kingfisher perched across the water inactive. Several little egrets about, most in tree.  A few spur winged plovers by edge of water. No cormorants or great whites today.

that 1000 plus strong starling flock had moved on but did see some smaller flocks in a couple of locations along Jordan valley. scores of jackdaws and cattle egrets on the landfill. Several white storks, at least a dozen perched near the landfill, inactive or preening. A bunch of laughing doves in trees,  Several swallows hunting flying insects quite low over road

Kestrel hunting observed by Moshe, hover and a dive,  Sardinian warbler calls,  also calls of ring neck parakeets, and bulbuls and laughing doves about but nothing from robins.

Local area:  recently relatively and unusually quiet
Hoodies and jackdaws regularly seen or heard.  Around gardens: occasional sunbird, survived the snow but mostly house sparrows, ring neck parakeets heard regularly.
Woods: occasional chiffchaffs piping in canopies, chink sounds of chaffinches some days, Syrian woodpeckers fairly reliably heard, great tits some days.
Lots of hyrax activity especially late morning and even youngsters.. occasional gazelle sightings.

Winter crocuses out , more and more of them as we head into January, started blooming some time in Decunfortunately lost track of exactly when, but about two weeks later than last year..  and still some autumn crocuses here and there.

First red anemone AND Roman storskbill spotted 31st Jan by Akiva, , got me picks with his Samsung

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


6th October 

Two or more night herons about around sunset, calling and flying over cistern area and Pistacio area.  One mobbed by a number of falcons (kestrels?)  flying about that area.

Lately.. masked shrike about, heard, seen.  A few days ago over acacia north east valley road bend, edge neighbourhood two alpine swifts circling about hawking, quite high ,  then noticed swallows hawking lower, closer to the acacia and a few bee-eaters joined in.. we've been hearing and seeing them last few days ,  could not see the insects they were getting but must have been quite a few.

about half a dozen gazelle in Pistacias a couple of days ago, Akiva noticed some minor sparring amongst sub adults.  Hyrax activity varies, some days not one to be seen, others veritable mass family outings.

Hoodies, jackdaws active generally, house sparrows heard about gardens and some sunbird activity,  Syrian woodpeckers still quite vocal but less so than in previous month,  quite a bit of jay noise today. Blackbird settling to roost calls heard a couple of days ago, hadn't heard those in a while either.

15th Oct

Sdei Terumot pool .. late morning,   at least 5 pied kingfishers in group on near fence, noisy, interacting, grey heron edge across water, little egret hunting across, several spur winged plovers.. a number of storks soaring a little to north.  On way back landfill near Tirzah reservoir an egret, a number of white storks landed, a few black kites about.  bee-eaters heard, 

16 th Oct

Akiva noticed a couple of white wagtails in town, noticed significent side diffs between them. Haven't seen or heard any in neighbourhood yet.   bats noticed in forest and edge lately, just singles


12th November

Trip to Malkishua .. lots of robins there, singing and foraging.  Sardinian warblers (?) glimpsed here and there.. spotted flycatcher on diagonal wire going in..

Sede Trumot.. lots of cormorants in bare tree cafe side of water.. several large, dark adult great, lower down in tree lots much smaller.. pygmy? seemed about half size of greats.. wouldn't have thought immatures that much smaller.. 20 plus in all.. at least half a dozen grey herons mostly on higher branches or flying about , edge of pool near the outlet two little egrets  , further over a great white. spur winged plovers about. black kite flying about above.. calls of graceful warbler.

Bird of day, lifer in fact.. on wire by beginning of dirt road heading  towards Tirzah reservoir 3 little green bee-eaters , further along, murmuration of starlings.. 1000 plus many settled on wires.. many looked immature.. great white egrets by landfill , also collared doves, laughing doves, stonechat, and spur winged plovers about.

Mifgash HaBikah,, sparrows, spur winged plovers, white wagtails.

two dogs near there.. interesting breed.. grey, as large as german shepherds but broader headed, magnificent , black edged ears even slightly tufted, one more so than other looked partly wild but not wolves or jackals.. wolf blood in them?

Moshe reported.. lots of young vipers seen about Malkishua lately.. described animal as like cross betw cat and fox stealing egg from duck enclosure.. colour and build suggested mongoose. We also noticed red admiral by there.

Akiva noticed first autumn crocus near Montefiore's windmill , in watered lawn last week, none in our neighbourhood yet.  and lots more white wagtails in town appeared to be signif larger race than those seen in Neve Yaakov with more extensive white on them.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Hoof of gazelle leg found by top of shepherd's trail this afternoon 22nd Sept.Views side, underside, top and side

 Above.. flowers of spiny asparagus noticed by east watercourse dirt road 21st Sept. photographed 22 nd September.

Also noticed Sharp Varthemia in bloom 22 Sept, just a few flowers yet on plant in the open just up from top of shepherd's trail, lower north west slopes windsurfer hill

2nd Sept  

Sdei Trumot 

1 pied kingfisher perched on low flat post above water still, temp about 40 early aft.  Several terrapins swimming about in water, saw head up, then down again, at least two pairs of spur winged plovers round banks, one over by right across, other near bank under eucs took off. dragonflies

white storks Tirzah.. about a dozen.

7 Sept

harsh calls around look out corner area.. could be shrikes again.. also discovered from Malkishua Sardinian warblers can sound like that.
Lots of Hyrax activity by valley road including mother with kits.
Gazelle in lower east field and Pistacias, at least half a dozen in former area running about.
Lots of Syrian woodpecker activity, calls jackdaws, hoodies. covey of chukar east field slopes just up from shepherd trail.
Akiva saw grey bird of prey like bird,  said thursday very similar, mat dark grey above but not as dark as hobby, lighter below.. on thursday clearly saw white rump but that only on a male hen harrier? rather early in season for that 
Sunbirds heard singing in last week in Bauhinia and a couple of other places

8 Sept

Tristramit heard from garden.  Akiva has also heard lately occasionally.  Ring neck parakeets seen and heard in neighbourhood by ourselves and neighbours in last week, when I saw, pair flying about over gardens .. also between our neighbourhood and Pisgat Zeev

12 Sept Thurs

Neglected to record.. about a week ago several large dark birds.. size, outline honey buzzard I'd say, settling down into trees behind look out corner, coming down to roost for night.. spooked out a collared dove.

Back to present..  last few days Masked shrike heard regularly near look out corner/Pistacias and along north watercourse, a couple glimpsed amongst acacias, eucs, lower branches , or flitting from ground to trees.  Syrian woodpeckers active and vocal. Kestrels about, hunting over valley as well as sides, more bold because hobbies left, and coming into their territory?  Some great tits heard but not every day. Jackdaws and hooded crows heard regularly. Occasional graceful warbler calls but their activity down too, and collared doves and blackbirds very low profile.

At least three hoopoes in look-out corner, hoopoe stretch area yesterday. 

In gardens laughing doves cooing every day, feral pigeons on roofs, between buildings, sparrows active, vocal, flocking somewhat, on the move between gardens looking for opportunities, some bulbuls also like that in pairs or small groups, also sometimes heard in watercourse trees.

Several kestrel sightings lately over valley, covey of chukars north west lower slopes windsurfer hill, calls of masked shrikes heard, Syrian woodpeckers very vocal and active lately,  Jays occasionally, hooded crows and jackdaws regularly, noted flock of hoodies returning from foraging to north. 

First rain .. light with no thunder or lightning on 21st Sept. late afternoon.  Much cumulus/cumulonimbus about.. had noted some nice altocumulus day before and cirrus

24 th September 

Sdei Terumot.. temp 30 degrees C there..  several pied kingfishers about,mostly perching on opposite bank, one on post about 3 feet out of water , 2 little egrets,  not together, some dozens of metres apart across water 1 grey heron,  1 white breasted kingfisher just above water outlet, 1 common kingfisher on branch bit by water on my side, flew across with call and hunted from row veg sticking out of water on other side,  so saw all three local species of kingfisher within about five minutes.. that's a first !  a few pairs of spur winged plovers about.

Did not see white storks up above Tirzah but westerlies moving lots of cumulus along and wind conditions against thermals in that area.

Monday, September 2, 2013

July, August

 Syrian Demoiselle.. taken by Moshe,  mid August , nr Cfar Blum, upper Jordan

Sdei Trumot 23rd July

several pairs/groups spur winged plovers about the pool, very active and vocal
1 pair pied kingfishers seen heading low over water from near to far bank.
egret heading off, prob little.

otherwise, about, graceful warblers,  some UI with clear repeated sibillant whistle by waterside but no time to investigate.


Tristram's pair noted a couple of times, 1 call repeated, not the usual three tone but sharp.

generally quiet,  flock hillslopes north west on ground, mixed jackdaw, hoodie foraging.

various sizes bee-eater flock, today several dozen together over hillslopes to north east , brief upset as raptor tried for them from below a few times..  falcon, couldn't make out well, in some views resembled sparrowhawk.. the female kestrel in that area?  Not hobby. (25th July)

Some hobby sightings recently still. Blackbirds, jays noted foraging but quiet.

general activity low, even graceful warblers less vocal,  some calls stone curlew late afternoon dusk and after.  greenfinch twitterings down last couple of weeks

Hyrax variety calls chitters around sunset. 

bulbuls quite vocal edge neighbourhood. Have heard ring necked parakeets about the gardens lately. Occasional sunbird calls but not as much as were earlier in the season.  HOuse sparrows as usual, feral pigeons and laughing dove activity. 

Main flowers out: thin safflower, carline thistle, some capers.

13 August Route 90 

Just north of Mifgash HaBikah  SCORES of white storks flying about over Tirzah reservoir.. couldn't count exact number and not time to go over there regrettably..

At Sdei Trumot spur winged plovers about, one in parking lot, very vocal.  pied kingfishers  over water. no herons or egrets seen.  

End August New thistle seen and photographed by north watercourse, don't recall seeing it before.  IDd  by Sarah Gold's site as Cirsium phylocephalum.  
Height . tall ones on one side just over 5 feet, those on watercourse side much shorter, not more than two feet

Thursday, July 25, 2013

June 2nd Half

20  June 
Gazelles: female with right horn only seen with two kids in small olive grove.. a week or two ago we'd seen her on hill slopes to north east near fence, also with two kids.  She browsed from olive tree (fruits? young leaves?)  standing on hind legs to do so

.. another female with a young one also under olives, the young one went to join the (assumed) twins.  Yet another female and young noticed in field between olive grove and windsurfer hill and yet another with female and subadult noticed in shepherd's trail area making 5 young of this year.

Record number of 11 hoopoes counted by Akiva in ''hoopoe stretch'' .. north watercourse dirt road between shaft and where it joins central trail near look out corner.  In the last week we can usually see several to half a dozen in that area dustbathing on road, poking for invertebrates by side of road or in bald patch of new wood where trees taken down a couple of years back, also in rock flats by southern turn of road .

Today (20th) interestingly we noted a pair of blackbirds which had been foraging on ground under pines south of road shortly before southward turn of road , each chasing away hoopoes which tried to alight and poke ground in that area.. Competition there.

Juvenile wheatears.. up to half a dozen individuals about (thursday) . didn't see the male but have seen typical local race of black eared wheatear male not far from there, on sapling poles closer to watercourse.

some flight calls of collared doves still heard, one male displaying to female in cistern pine. usual coos.  Turtle dove coos but not every day, they seem to prefer sunny conditions and stop sooner before dusk than the collareds. 

Syrian woodpeckers active and vocal , seen perching on lines briefly a couple of times when much drama seemed to be happening in trees it was flying in and out of .. speaking of drama.. couple of days ago pair of hobbies repeatedly dive bombing a tall cypress on ridge between north watercourse and hidden watercourse. Pair took it in turns to climb and dive at tree..owl in there? couldn't see.

Jays active and vocal, great tits about, calls, juveniles well feathered now, occasional calls of ring neck parakeet.. not every day, but particularly by eucs by east watercourse, Whole covey of chukars 9,10 plus, noticed on rocks to left of central trail (as it emerges into open leading to watercourse crossing and look out corner area)

Bugs on capers seen middle of month. Stenozygum coloratum. 

Lots of hyrax activity, vocalization, numbers of young seen, female nursing young on rock couple of days ago, at least three in that litter. 

June 21st  Bulbul first heard 5.05 am.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

June 1st Half

Eumenes wasp on Eryngium 2nd week of June, near pumping station. 

Temps variable, mild, some days up to about 24,25 degrees C, a few up to early 30s , a very few into mid and upper 30s 

by 17th June Thin safflower already seen in bloom and caper bugs infesting some of the caper plants.

collared doves still cooing, displaying at females. Turtle doves cooing particularly on more sunny days.

Black eared wheatears seen.. male at and around bunker rubble by look-out corner,  another not far from shaft near north watercourse in the open.  Heard but not seen in east field. first year male seen on rocks by north watercourse dirt road

Mourning or Hooded, prob latter seen briefly by north watercourse, acacia area.. too briefly to be 100% sure and didn't reappear. 

Hyrax.. plenty activity along valley road including by path down by shul from across road to valley road.. young seen.

Gazelle.. at least two, prob three or four young seen between east watercourse and small olive grove , at least one in company of female with the one right horn.

Bee-eaters regular over Pistacia orchard and gazelle field lately.. up to 40 or so birds but usually half or less than that seen.

Greenfinches active, vocal, singing various parts of east watercourse woods and esp around look out corner.  Also seen coming down to feed on thistles in look out corner area.
Jays, jackdaws, hooded crows. graceful warblers
stone curlews more vocal middle June. Calls of  great tits, blackbird (some song) ,
Kestrel heard from trees up from bat cave but no hobby sightings lately.. call and sight of bird more like sparrowhawk. Near pumping station remains of dark winged medium size passerine could have been killed by hobby or sparrowhawk.

11 June trip north

Maaleh Adumim.. dozens of Tristram's grackles in large Tipuana near bird andarta. Also by there on grass two Indian mynahs. 

At Sdei Trumot pool: little egret hunting not far from outflow,  spur winged plovers about, pied kingfishers on large pipe over pool.

Malkishua.. warblers spotted.. had heard Sylvia type warblers in bushes all about for some time but not got glimpse.. harsh calls almost like masked shrikes.. then saw bird near ground.. photo. Amir Balaban said looked like young Sardinian warbler