Tuesday, July 31, 2007

30th, 31st July

30th July
Humidity lower than yesterday, conditions back to pretty much normal for time period. Bird life seemed more normal too, not so quiet
Husband saw a male sunbird repeatedly fly into the top of our entryway just outside the front door and pick at the cobwebs, then he'd go back to a branch and wipe his bill. He could be after spiders themselves, after the spider's victims or after the webs they use in nest construction together with grass fibres and such. though it's a little late in the season for that, still husband definitely saw webs trailing from its bill. Nice to know they're not quitting! We let the spiders build webs freely up there to catch mosquitoes though the latter are quite good at evading capture.
Gazelles, dogs, reptiles: no show
hyrax quite a bit of activity around the cypress slum colony
Bee-eaters: 20 seen perched on wire just south of Pumping station.
Over gazelle field and east end of north valley, and perched on wire over there and in flight, 100 at least, wonderful to see. A falcon of some kind flew amongst them for a few minutes though did not seem to be making any attempt to catch one, that would have been very challenging. The bee-eaters are very adept flyers. The falcon then turned south and flew over us. Looked dark, head rufous, could be the late afternoon light, hard to tell, never got a good look at its back. Wing feathers poor condition, needed a good moult.
Wheatears: Juvenile at the bunker, perched on rebar
Great spotted cuckoos - moved on we think
Hoopoe - briefly glimpsed in flight near orchard
House sparrows, Senegal doves: around houses and street as usual.
Hooded crows: Around valley and hills as usual
Jackdaws: some calls from direction of hill and field to east
Jays: Foraging in woods and fields as usual,
Feral pigeons: buildings and over valley as usual
Greenfinches: in good tune, some lovely song in pine by bunker.
Collared doves: Visited cistern
Graceful warblers: calls
Syrian woodpeckers: Plenty calls and foraging on trunks.
Bulbuls: calls in gardens and along valley road
We'd taken a bin bag with us and picked up after some long gone picnickers, mostly disposable plates and bottles.. the latter we dropped into a cage for recycling on our way back. My love of a clean neat environment is greater than my distaste for picking up after people who don't care. Thankfully they seem to be in the minority.
Turtle doves, cuckoos, blackbirds, chukars, stone curlew, great tit: none seen or heard today
6 p.m. 27.4 degrees C, 55 % humidity and rising, Wind WNW 22.6 knots. I forgot to get the weather yesterday, sleep deprivation, but it was pretty much like today, perhaps wind a little lower.
Gazelles: 2! Happy to see them.. looked like a mother and well grown young, neither any sign of horns. She also looked a touch heavy in the abdomen which hints another one on the way? A little closer than usual, our side of the last dry stone wall so very nice views.
Bee-eaters: At least approaching 20 on the wire just south of the pumping station again, vocal. Over gazelle field at least 80, flying a few score feet up, then later skimming the places where the gazelle graze, sometimes alighting.
Wheatear: an immature (black-eared, probably a Bill Jr) perched on a rebar of the bunker ruins not far from yesterday's similar sighting.
House sparrows, Senegal doves: gardens and street as usual
Hooded crows: A few over valley and around hill as usual, and foraging over on gazelle field
Jackdaws: flock of fifty or so birds over on east fields where the goats were. One very vocal flying from our neighbourhood buildings to valley
Jays: Plenty scattered foraging on fields especially around where gazelle
Feral pigeons: Buildings and flying over valley as usual
Greenfinches: Small groups flitting about pines by bunker as usual. No full song, chee calls or use of thistles though.
Sunbirds: call from Bauhinia, also calls from pumping station area. We know there's a territory there.
Syrian woodpeckers: Many active and vocal, chipping calls and feeding on pine trunks.
Bulbuls: harsh calls along valley road. Gardens. It's just after 7.30 p.m. now and I'm hearing some melodious pre-roost bulbul calls. Many birds get quite vocal before roosting.
No turtle dove coos still, not sure if I saw any fly over the field. No cuckoos, probably moved on. No hoopoes seen today but they'll still be around. Blackbirds silent, probably gone into moult. Chukars also keeping a low profile. Stone curlews quieter than usual. Graceful warblers quiet. Great tits not heard or seen today

Sunday, July 29, 2007

July 26, 29th Warm weather walks,

July 26th 6-7 plus.. 31.9, 40% W wind 10.4 kt - Heat wave days.. midday last few days was in mid thirties degrees C. It's still a few degrees below temperatures at low altitudes.. at this latitude (about the same as Los Angeles) it's pleasant to be 800 metres elevation. One has to be very careful of heat exhaustion and dehydration at this time of year in these climates

Gazelles - 5: 1 (possibly 2) near trees usual area, 4 more ranged along side of hill
hyrax didn't go by cypress slum today. Dogs, reptiles none noticed

We left clean water, seed and chickfood by the cistern but nothing came to it while we were there.

Bee-eaters: 40 or so swarming over 50 ft high over gazelle fore field and orchard, shifting from place to place, probably following flying insect concentrations
Wheatears: several juveniles on thistles and rebars around the bunker ruins

House sparrows, Senegal doves, Feral pigeons: around street, buildings
Hooded crows, Jackdaws: flock of over 70 over in gazelle grazing area picking at ground. After some time the crow flocks, almost merged, flew over us to south, jackdaws vocal, hoodies silent
Jays: many scattered busy foraging in woods and field, quite vocal
Feral pigeons: buildings and over as usual
Greenfinches: small flocks in cypresses, eucalyptus and weeds between bunker and cistern
Collared doves: many active, vocal, coos around pomegranate trees, cistern area but none actually visited cistern
Stone curlews: some calls to north
Graceful warblers: some vocal
Syrian woodpeckers: busy foraging and vocal in all parts of woods
Bulbuls: vocal in garden

Great spotted cuckoos, turtle doves, blackbirds, hoopoes, great tits, sunbirds, chukars, blackbirds silent or absent

July 29th

sunbird and bulbul first birds heard today in the Bauhinia tree not long after 5 a.m.

6-7 p.m.ish 25.9 degrees C and falling, humidity 81% and rising, wind WSW 10.2 kt and falling -

The air had a strange quality today, sky almost white with moisture though easily penetrated by the falling sun. The moist warm wind was quite pleasant. Headed off east from trail path to the porcupine den though I don't know if it still used, I'm sure something could make use of the vegetable peels we left. We headed up 'windsurfer hill' and then down to the north to approach the cistern between the orchard and the eucalyptus grove.

Gazelle, 1 running across our path from the east field down to the orchard
hyraxes- plenty young and adult active around 'cypress slum', scampering across the road to their dens on the forest side of the road
dogs and reptiles - none noticed

Bee-eaters: 20 or so flyhunting over the pine forest where the trees of north valley merge with those of east valley
House sparrows: calls from garden and street
Senegal doves: active along street
Hooded crows: several individuals and small groups on and around 'Windsurfer' hill
Jackdaws: flock of about 70 foraging on the ground on northern slopes of windsurfer hill. We walked towards them so they'd move on and we could check the ground to see what they were eating. There was very little goat dung there but there was an abundance of tiny berries of the Heath like little bushes that grow all over the hill. There didn't appear to be anything else edible there to attract them so much.
Jays: Plenty active, vocal and foraging
Feral pigeons: active around buildings, on street and flying in small groups and pairs over the valley as usual
Syrian woodpeckers, active, quite a few calls heard

Wheatears, Great spotted cuckoos, turtle doves, Hoopoes, blackbirds, chukars, collared doves, stone curlews, great tits silent or absent, partly due to the oppressive weather I'm sure and also the growing number of picnickers using the woods and cistern area at this time of year cause some birds to keep a slightly lower profile.
Greenfinches: none seen or heard though we weren't there quite late enough for canary chorus, still we would have normally heard many social calls and some twittering. Nothing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

22nd 25th July

No photos of whinchats available in creative commons as far as I looked so here's the illustration from wikipedia. I do recommend viewing photographs online because they're gorgeous on film

July 22nd. ~6-7 p.m. 28 degrees C and falling, 36% humidity and rising, wind WSW 1.7 kt
Some sunbird calls in the garden, more bulbul vocalisations, the usual 'wurbly bee?' variations and series of harsh chaks often heard lately, probably family business.
Nice sighting of two stone curlews on the ground immediately to east of the orchard, on a trail leading to the hill to the south. They didn't do much, just stood there, one looking slightly more fluffed up, and neck down, possibly a younger bird not yet out of all his downy feathers though it could also be a sign of illness. After some minutes they took off pretty much at the same time and flew a great loop around the western edge of the gazelle field, arcing east again to rocky slopes below Adam.
Other birds seen and heard: Feral pigeons, graceful warblers, senegal doves, eurasian jays, syrian woodpeckers, bee-eaters (30 or so), collared doves, greenfinches, great tits, jackdaws, hooded crows and also a falcon over gazelle field, most likely a hobby, very dark on top, hard to make out any more details.
1 gazelle grazing in her favourite spot north gazelle field
July 25th
~6-7 pm 32 degreec C and falling, 45% humidity and rising, wind NNW 2-6kt though hardly felt at all in the bottom of the valley
1 gazelle grazing in her usual field, north west gazelle field near the foot of the hill.
Plenty hyrax activity round 'cypress slum' today, hyraxes all ages up in the cypress trees like squirrels nibbling at those cones, plenty squeaking and chittering.
Bee-eaters, about 20 swarming about high over the orchard catching flying insects, probably more about, working the grove just north of the orchard.
I filled a disposable plate with good clean water and put it next to the cistern to see if the visiting birds would recognize it for what it was. Nope.. as is usual in life, you don't see what you don't expect... I saw collared doves and turtle doves hop right over that fresh water and fly right by it, then hop gingerly down the rebars to get the to filthy rancid water three feet below. Ah well, perhaps some smart jay or house sparrow will discover it later. Next time I plan to lace it with bread and bird seed to make it more attractive. It takes a little time to discover goodies but when they do, my little supply will become significant.
The greenfinches were working those thistles again and stone curlews started to call at about ten after 7 p.m. The greenfinch 'canary chorus' was underway. Collared doves were cooing and flight calling and an occasional turtle dove also cooed. Senegal doves heard cooing earlier. Each has its own distinct coo which makes it nice and easy for us birdwatchers and listeners to know what's around.
Syrian woodpeckers seen and heard, busy and active, Jackdaws calling and two noticed flying from our neighbourhood across the valley to the goat pastures. Interesting to see them visiting their old haunts, I was sure I heard them from the house earlier, perhaps they're trickling back.
Another interesting bird on a thistlehead near the bunker . At first I thought an immature wheatear but the stance seemed wrong, and more orange on the belly than you'd expect .. I believe it was actually a whinchat but sadly I lost sight of it soon after.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


July 20 As the season progresses singing activity falls and flocking increases, larger flocks seen as birds assemble after breeding. This we are seeing most in the bee-eaters, hooded crows and jackdaws.

Blackbird song and turtle dove coos hardly at all in last few days though bulbuls now getting more vocal. Seems the wheatears and cuckoos have moved on mostly and swifts long gone, no more sightings. Cicadas and graceful warblers seem to be getting more active in the heat. Time for butterflies now past but more grasshoppers around and plenty black millipedes, ants and numerous red and black plant bugs which look a little creepy but are harmless.

5-6 p.m. 30.9 degrees C, humidity 25% and rising, wind NW 14.8 kt (wind recording taken west Jerusalem but felt considerably lower where we are)
Gazelles - 3 looked like the east field group.. mom, well grown young and individual with thin horns. Grazing near pomegranate tree by cistern, then moved back to meadow nw gazelle field. Horned individual stayed to graze there, mom headed north west up goat track up hill, young one following some way behind. Tracks found in sandy dust path near pumping station. (far south end of their range as far as we know)
hyrax, some out , some activity
Turtle doves: again, no coos, 1 on ground by cistern, nice to see they're still around
Bee-eaters: some calls
House sparrows: gardens, pumping station, by bridge over dry creek
Senegal doves: street as usual
Hooded crows: calls and individuals around and over valley
Jackdaws: calls from east
Jays: some calls, foraging in woods and on field
Feral pigeons: on buildings, overhead
Greenfinches: twittering, family groups busy in pines near bunker
Blackbirds: alarm heard east up slopes creek path
Chukars: calls from north valley
Collared doves: in flight over gazelle field
Sunbirds: garden, creek path
Graceful warblers: many active, foraging, calling, singing, most active birds seen and heard today
Syrian woodpeckers: calls, active, foraging in woods
Bulbuls: active, calling, foraging along valley road
July 21:
Lazy Senegal dove! They are always picking at the sidewalk looking for any crumbs, usually in pairs, some singly. If you approach they seldom fly away.. at most they walk a little faster. One we watched today stepped down into the road at our approach and simply walked a semi circle till he was back on the sidewalk behind us.

I'm British so I'm used to calling a sidewalk a pavement. Husband (American) pointed out that our local sidewalks aren't made from paving stones but bricks laid out in a herringbone pattern. What is it then, a brickment? I'll call it a sidewalk then for the American readers;)

Turtle doves
and collared doves at the cistern. They do seem to be the thirstiest birds and need the cistern most. Jays next probably. Many local birds we've yet to see drink at all. Degree of adaptation to arid climate.. also diet makes a difference. If you eat insects you get more moisture than if you eat grass seeds and doves usually eat the latter. Brief turtle dove cooing about 7.45 p.m. all we heard in last few days. Bee-eater flock in excess of 70 birds.
No gazelle. Foraging great tits in small scrubby trees central forest, some hoopoes foraging on dirt trails, stone curlew calls. Again, no blackbird song but still plenty greenfinch song and family activity. Syrian woodpeckers, graceful warblers, jays, hooded crows, senegal doves all active, foraging and vocal.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

July 17,18 Late afternoon walks

July 17 6-7 p.m.: 24.9 degrees C, 60% 9.6 kt wnw
Gazelles: 6 altogether today:) - 1 in meadow foot of slopes nr trees and pylon as usual, 5 ranged higher on slope probably along a goat trail
hyrax some activity
Bee-eaters: much activity, about 20 on ground nr cistern, some on ground nr orchard, busy all over groves, orchard and cistern area. 40 or so swarming over east end of north valley.. in total 50-60
Hoopoes several foraging on dirt trails , by creek and central trail
House sparrows: street, gardens, Senegal doves: valley road, street, gardens
Hooded crows: two distinct flocks at least 50 each, some territorial rivalry on windsurfer hill ? Went back to small group windsurfing on western upper slopes as usual
Jackdaws: some calls, one heard from here, other from east hill
Jays: activity and calls in woods and fields as usual
Feral pigeons: overhead and on buildings as usual
Greenfinches: activity high in eucalyptus and pines as usual, twittering again toward dusk, many juveniles
Blackbirds: some song off middle valley road in east valley
Collared doves: some cooing, flight calls
Stone curlews: some calls north valley hill slopes
Sunbirds: woods some calls, garden as usual
Graceful warblers: calls
Syrian woodpeckers: plenty calls and alarm calls in pines
Bulbuls: quite vocal esp along valley road, foraging
Great tits: some calls
July 18th 6-7 p.m. 27.3 degrees C and falling, humidity 51% and rising, wind WNW 5.2 kt
Gazelles, 2 on lower slopes of hill to north of gazelle field, one with short thin horns, one without
hyrax, some activity
Turtle doves: none heard
Bee-eaters: all over orchard, groves and gazelle field but perched and staying low, little flying, many vocalisations.
Hoopoe- 1 flying over corner of valley road toward north valley
House sparrows, Senegal doves: street
Hooded crows: much flocking activity on hill east of east valley, some windsurfing, some play 'dive bombing' of other crows. Several score crows up there, hard to tell, many on ground between rocks and vegetation at any time.
Jackdaws: calls coming from flock on hillslopes east of east valley.
Jays: Much foraging activity on gazelle field and in pine woods, some vocal
Feral pigeons: cooing from buildings, comings and goings over valley and street as usual
Greenfinches: Lots of 'chee' calls coming from pines near cistern and grove, movements of family groups between trees.
Blackbirds: Some alarm calls, no song at all today.
Collared doves: Some cooing and flight calls, activity around cistern and over fields.
Stone curlews: calls from across north valley
Sunbirds: calls in garden as usual, also calls from grove near the bunker ruins.
Graceful warblers: calls and family group near beginning of bunker road.
Syrian woodpeckers: Plenty calls all over woods and groves, activity
Bulbuls: Very vocal today in garden, along valley road, street, foraging.
Great tits: Some calls in the pines.

Monday, July 16, 2007

July 15th, 16th summer birds

July 15th 28.3 falling, 68% rising, SW 4.3kt

This time of summer is pleasant, warm and not exactly packed with action.. young birds maturing, nothing migrating, the birds start to moult and take it easy.. relatively speaking. I expect rather repetitive observations for next couple of months but we shall see, anything could turn up;)
Gazelles - 1 without horns grazing over betw trees by pylon, usual spot.
hyrax - shrill alarm barks, almost sounding almost like kestrel. Probably cats around.. hillside just west of pumping station.
Turtle doves: plenty coos and one by cistern
Bee-eaters: lots around, hard to estimate, all over east part of field, eucalyptus grove.. half a dozen sat in the dirt road near the cistern, pecking at ground and dustbathing in a disultory fashion, or just sitting there. We checked out the place.. part of where they'd been had line of busy ants, rest was just red dusty ground.
Hoopoes pair sitting right on ground, on trail that heads alongside dry creek of northern valley, just west of look-out point.
Nice falcon over hill to east of east valley where the cave is.. this is where the crows do their windsurfing. Grey back, probably a hobby.
House sparrows: around houses
Senegal doves: coos and quite active around street
Hooded crows: all over valley as usual, small group on hilltop east of the east valley, a little disturbed by presence of a falcon.
Jackdaws: one calling and flying over valley road to the south
Jays: quite a number busy througout wood and gazelle field as usual
Feral pigeons: around street
Greenfinches: at least two families busy in pines above bunker ruins.. many social calls, became pleasant twittering song more toward dusk
Collared doves: some cooing and pair by cistern
Sunbirds: bauhinia as usual
Syrian woodpeckers: busy in woods, vocal
Bulbuls: calls in garden
Great tits, Blackbirds, chukars, graceful warblers, stone curlews all quiet today
July 17th
6-7 p.m. ish 24.4 degrees C, 62% humidity, wind WSW ~ 11 knots
Gazelles: none today
hyrax making kestrel type calls by pumping station again, whole families out, some alarm sent them into their dens.
Turtle doves: quiet
Bee-eaters: half dozen sitting together on ground by orchard, probably at least twenty around from cistern to orchard. Seems they use the pine grove south east of gazelle field as roost these days, moving towards it in small groups toward dusk.
Wheatear: 1 middle of wood, on central trail, quite dark, well developed immature
House sparrows: around houses, one male in orchard
Senegal doves: cooing, valley road, street
Hooded crows: 40 or so windsurfing and hanging out on hill to east of east valley, all scared in air by gunshots or something, boiled up from the hill and flew over valley to west but within a minute making their way back in singles and pairs back to their favourite hill.
Jackdaws: calls of flock from hillsides to east
Jays: active and calls, foraging ground around fields
Feral pigeons: on buildings and overhead
Greenfinches: active around bunker, cistern, look out corner, canary chorus
Blackbirds: some song, some calls, alarm calls
Collared doves: some coos. Turtle doves silent today.
Sunbirds: bauhinia bird, creek trail birds, orchard, from calls and activity seems like family
Graceful warblers: some calls
Syrian woodpeckers: calls, activity
Bulbuls: calls, activity , foraging in cypress and gardens
Great tits: some calls? Now young more mature moved higher up into tree canopies and harder to find

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Jackdaw mystery solved

July 12th
Just after 6 p.m. 26.7 falling, 38% rising, WNW 14.8 kt rising
Gazelles 2 no horns near pylon far north field
Turtle doves: coos
Bee-eaters: flock 20 plus swarming over east end of north valley pines
House sparrows: garden
Senegal doves: some coos, garden.
Hooded crows: about a score wind surfing and dipping over w side of hill to east of east valley
Jackdaws: flock 50 plus amongst goats in the east field. So that's why and where they'd all gone! After the chicks had fledged they no longer needed our neighbourhood, (they make nests on our flat rooftops seldom disturbed unless someone needs to repair a solar boiler), and all the jackdaw families moved out to the country and became goat herd followers! Many bugs make use of goat droppings and herd animals can provide other benefits. The jackdaws were following the goats much the way cattle egrets follow wild game.

(btw We have only ever seen one cattle egret in our neighbourhood, an immature bird picking the slopes of the north valley though a large flock breeds in south Jerusalem, they're more common amongst livestock at lower altitudes)

When we'd seen the jackdaws on the slopes below the small town of Hizmeh we didn't make the association but when we saw them amongst the goats in the east field today we remembered that goat herds use the same hillslopes where we'd seen them over the last week or so the penny dropped. Now the goatherders had started to use pastures near and within our haunts again the jackdaws came with them, particularly when they use open ground though we haven't seen them follow the goats all the way to the creek meadow or gazelle field. They prefer to keep to the east field and the hill around Hizmeh. Perhaps they will in time, we shall keep eyes and ears open.

: wood and esp fields, by cistern
Feral pigeons: as usual
Greenfinches: in the pines, cypress, eucalyptus, vocal
Blackbirds: some song
Chukars: calls to east near creek trail not far from pumping station
Collared doves: coos near cistern
Stone curlews: call and brief glimpse to east of orchard and grove
Sunbirds: in our garden bauhinia as usual
Syrian woodpeckers: active and vocal in forest
Brief glimpse of a mottled brownish raptor flying south over the creek.
Feral cat up a tree and then in the creek by the dry creek trail.

July 14th For about an hour before dusk at the cistern
Nice bee-eater turn out- hard to estimate, I saw at least 30-40, husband estimated 50+.. they were wheeling about behind the giant pine over the east end of gazelle field and finally settled in the pine grove just to the east of the cistern (where that hooded crow pair were bringing up the cuckoos)
Greenfinches twittering pleasantly in the pine above me towards dusk and jays and collared doves still quite active. Hoopoe near cistern.
Some hyrax about but no gazelle today.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

10th, 11th July, Gazelles, stone curlews

10th July: 6 pm 28 C falling, 25% rising, 10.4 kt WNW,
Gazelle 1 - usual place nr pylon and trees nw corner of north field
Turtle doves: much cooing
Bee-eaters: flock two dozen east end of north valley
Hoopoes: burnt glade just west of creek foraging on ground
Falcon.. over north end east field, wheeling, gliding quite high and right over us.. hard to make out colouring due to reflection, silhouette and sun shining through but suggested hobby
Stone curlews: calls then three seen flying in formation a few dozen feet above slopes just south of Adam, flew together east over road, wheeled back and settled on rocky slopes.
House sparrows: around buildings; Senegal doves: some cooing
Hooded crows: some calling, a few individuals around valley, often use tops of buildings edge of valley as lookouts
Jackdaws: flock on sides of hill to east, further south than before, several dozen, calls
Jays: many, vocal, foraging all over forest, some on fields
Feral pigeons: three foraging on valley road, over in singles, small groups as usual
Greenfinches: some twittering in trees, less singing than usual
Blackbirds: song from several territories in woods
Collared doves: perching on high line, active around fields, flight calls, coos
Sunbirds: bauhinia, one in centre forest tops pine and cypress centre east valley woods
Graceful warblers: some calls
Syrian woodpeckers: plenty calls and some seen in woods
Bulbuls: quite vocal.. in bauhinia 5 am..and calls from garden early afternoon
Great tits: calls young pine grove on the way to the bunker
July 11 about an hour starting 6.15 p.m. ish
28.2 degrees C falling, 6 kt NW falling, humidity 24% falling (relatively unusual, usually rising this time of day)
Gazelles 3
On approach down the central trail to the bunker, scanned the area in advance with binocs to see if wheatears etc there and noticed a pair of gazelle grazing right by the bunker! They matched the group of three we'd noticed before in the east field, (I'm calling them Prongless, Prongs and little Prongs) no doubt moved down out of that area because of a large herd of goats. We were careful not to spook them but we were slightly upwind.. still, they weren't anxious, they looked in our direction but grazed and moved unhurriedly in the direction of the cistern. One stood by the cistern and looked in, poor thing, most water has evaporated and the rancid remainder was about three feet down and out of reach. Little Prongs made his way to the creek bed running through the gazelle field by himself and grazed around, sometimes dipping down out of sight. He's quite well grown but his horns were teensy.. hence the name. Prongs has a longer pair, but thin, not like an adult buck. Prongs and Prongless made their way further north at a very gentle pace, stopping to graze by the pomegranate trees.
Turtle doves: many coos. Bee-eaters: small flock hunting east end of north valley woods. Hoopoe, foraging on trail near cistern
House sparrows: houses and street. Senegal doves: street and gardens, Hooded crows: apparently same three hanging out on valley road as yesterday, other activity as usual. Jackdaws: flock not seen today, Jays: busy on field
Feral pigeons: as usual, Greenfinches: Nice 'canary chorus' toward dusk.. good to hear they're all still in good song.
Blackbirds: some song
Collared doves: some activity though down, coos
Stone curlews: some calls
Sunbirds: In Bauhinia as usual
Graceful warblers: some calls and song
Syrian woodpeckers: very vocal in forest and busy foraging on pine trees, several seen

Monday, July 9, 2007

July 8th : 25 degrees C and falling, wind: 6 kt -10kt WNW, 53% humidity and rising. walk from 6 pm -7pm

shoe tip.. sole of my old tennis shoe came loose along way.. fixed it temporarily with soft resin oozing out of pine trees, held sole in place till I got home.
Gazelles, feral dogs, reptiles no show
hyrax some activity
Turtle doves: some cooing
Bee-eaters: at least a dozen spread out all over gazelle field, orchard and grove
Hoopoes 3, pair path nr cistern, by grove
House sparrows: as usual.. activity on gazelle field dropped substantially
Senegal doves: some cooing
Hooded crows: calls, singles, pairs
Eurasian Jays: many active in forest and field foraging, some quite vocal
Feral pigeons: overhead, singles, pairs, small flocks as usual
Greenfinches: twittering and back to taking thistleseed from around bunker again
Blackbirds: some song usual territories and foraging
Collared doves: pair near cistern,about, cooing,
Stone curlews: nice loud clear calls north edge north valley
Sunbirds: call orchard, some song, much calling on and off throughout day in Bauhinia
Syrian woodpeckers: several seen, heard around forest
Bulbuls: calls, quite vocal today
Graceful warblers, great tits, chukars, ,jackdaws, wheatears, cuckoos none noticed
27.3 degrees C, 12.2 NW, 33% 6 p.m. -7 p.m.
Gazelles - Four today :) .. three ranged out in the north field not far from the trees and pylon there.. the fourth coming down from the east field, by the small stand of olive trees by the fence and then on down behind the pine grove and on into the north east meadow of the gazelle field, had thin horns.. lovely bounding leaping run.
hyrax - some activity on west slopes by valley road
Turtle doves: coos
Bee-eaters: calls and hunting over gazelle field, east end of north valley, eucalyptus grove
Black-eared Wheatear: Immature (Bill jr?) perched in orchard, growing well, getting nice peach flush on his pale underparts.
House sparrows: Round houses, none noticed in gazelle field today. I'm hearing parents feed chicks now in Bauhinia at 7.30 p.m.
Senegal doves: coos, active, (one in Bauhinia now cooing 7.45 p.m. ed)
Hooded crows: calls, active around valley mostly as singles
Jackdaws: Nice flock low slopes of hill to east, betw 50-100 individuals. Some vocalisations and flights, mostly sitting low.
Jays: Active over fields as usual
Feral pigeons: several flying over in singles, small groups
Greenfinches: twittering song in trees cistern area
Blackbirds: some song
Collared doves: relatively quiet today.
Sunbirds: It's 7.30 p.m and 'his sapphireness' the male is in Bauhinia, vocalising just a foot from my window. He was there at dawn again as usual.
Syrian woodpeckers: Busy foraging here and there, orchard and on a pomegranate tree trunk near the cistern
Chukars, graceful warblers, stone curlews, great tits, hoopoes not noticed:

5th- 7th July

6-7 pm ish - W 10 kt, humidity 40-50% and rising temp 26 -25 deg C and falling
Gazelles - 7! 5 north gaz field spread across from pylon to eastern meadow, moms and well grown young, 2 , look like mom and well grown young again olive grove nr sec fence east field. Apparently all females and well grown young.. maybe one or two w small slender horns, hard to tell this distance.
Turtle doves: coos
Bee-eaters: approx half doz to and fro we to east and back over gaz field , some unusual vocalisations in pine grove, social calls, family groups?
Great spotted cuckoos, 1 or 2 nw corner gaz field by north valley trees, 1 foraging on ground then flying into trees other stayed n ground? hard to see
Hoopoes 3 edge of trees east field, three, 1 flew to branch from east, other joined it, 3rd landed between , crest rose, seemed made group uncomfortable to stay, all flew off into trees toward orchard
House sparrows: as usual, Senegal doves: some foraging, on lines, no coos; Hooded crows: foraging , 3 in group on valley road, over in 1s and 2s, field and around
Jackdaws: small flock just beyond fence , foot of hill to east, PA territory. Jays: quite vocal, all over, fields foraging, visit cistern
Feral pigeons: over singles, pairs small gps, buildings as usual; Greenfinches: seems thistle heads done, but busy in trees, chees and twittering as usual
Blackbirds: song esp from the one corner north valley nr valley road
Collared doves: coos, busy foraging on field over, around cistern
Stone curlews: chukars, great tits, bulbuls, graceful warblers no show today
Sunbirds: some calls from Bauhinia various times of day
Syrian woodpeckers: quite vocal here and there, working on eucalyptus trunk
Shabbat, 7th July - late afternoon.
Gazelles - no show
Turtle doves: cooing.
Bee-eaters: Hard to tell.. seems flock was dispersed and hunting over different parts of orchard, grove and field. Could have been whole flock.
Wheatears: juvenile foraging on ground other side of path from orchard, hopping up to twigs and then dropping back to ground to search some more .
Hoopoes: Seen around. Also several feathers found by the bunker that looked like a hoopoe, too many to have been moulted suddenly but no sign of a body nearby.. still does suggest one of the hoopoes may have become a casualty. Possibly a hobby, they sometimes go for hoopoes.
House sparrows: as usual, Senegal doves: some cooing; Hooded crows: activity as normal and ironically as I speak, at 5 a.m. in the morning I just heard a hooded crow call; Jackdaws: Heard to east beyond the fence as we've been hearing them past few days.
Jays: Very active foraging on the field, Feral pigeons: some seen in flight over the valley. Greenfinches: calls, twitters, some seen on other thistles more middle of gazelle field; Blackbirds: picnic corner individual foraging, some song from the individual in north valley down from valley road.
Chukars: none; Collared doves: active in valley, around cistern, in pomegranate trees, one went down into cistern, looked like the male of the pair. A pair arrived there, apparently intimidating a jay that was looking very wary.. I got the impression he was a rather young jay. He was plucking up the courage to hop down into the cistern but flew away when the collared dove pair arrived.
Stone curlews: Very vocal over the far end of the gazelle field but we didn't manage to catch sight of one.. as soon as they land they become pretty much invisible.
Sunbirds: Vocal in garden, a call also from the eucalyptus grove.. bird of the look out corner territory or another territory? Hard to tell unless we see a male fly between.
Graceful warblers, bulbuls, great tits : quiet. Some bulbul calls in garden area earlier.
Syrian woodpeckers: some calls, alarm calls.

It's 5.20 a.m. sunday morning and 'his sapphireness', our garden sunbird, has been calling right outside my window, for last five minutes quite stridently. Now the house sparrows have just started up.
Most puzzling bird earlier was a dark greyish bird which flew from valley road.. body that immediately reminded me of a falcon but flying more erratic, more like a swift, which suggsted nightjar.. however, colouring too smooth dark grey rather than camouflaged brown. I had an idea, showed husband.. European colour, right shape pretty much and husband thought right colouring.. I don't know if they fly like that though. For comparison I showed him the falcons. He thought the head had the orange of a red footed falcon female! He'd commented on that orange colour at the time but I didn't know what to make of it. Now that would be very cool but the least likely, they do pass through in appreciable numbers in migration season but this time of summer not likely. We put it on the shelf for now. We saw it very late afternoon. Was this the bird we saw on two other occasions in the same area.. but then after dark? Then I thought it was a nightjar. Could be a dark greyish colour morph?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

2nd - 4th July 2007

2nd July, Just after 6 p.m. Wind W , 7kt, humidity 56%, temp 24.3 deg C
Gazelles - 2 in eastern field beyond the orchard, seemed to be a mom and quite well grown young. amongst maze of dry stone walls , not far from security fence. They ran a little to the south, Young ran further, mom stayed under small stand of olive trees, both grazed a while, she looking out. till the youngster decided to rejoin her.. presently he sproinged back to join her.

Turtle doves: Some cooing
Bee-eaters: prob same flock as yesterday, at least two dozen over path to bunker, over young pine grove.. perched on lines, shifted to the older growth at far east of north valley.

Great spotted cuckoo, calling and being fed top of pine in the pine and cypress grove to east of gaz field. (now will be called north gaz field as opposed to east gaz field
Hoopoes , one flying over part of gazelle field, two foraging on path by orchard
HOBBY! Great to see again, I thought they'd all moved on. Gliding approx over cistern and tree, or a little further east. Head 'hood' clearly visible, back wings lighter grey than adult.
House sparrows, Senegal doves, Hooded crows: Eurasian Jays, Feral pigeons as usual
Jackdaws: small flock on lowest slopes of hill other side of fence to west- heard over street at 7. 30 p.m. ish. are they back? Not seen after that. Would be almost ironic if they 'migrate' just across the valley.

Greenfinches: family group in pines by bunker, Blackbirds: foraging various locations throughout woods
Chukars: none; Collared doves: much activity, foraging , over fore part of n gaz field, pomegranate trees, flight calls,
Stone curlews: some calls, Sunbirds: vocal in our Bauhinia as usual, especially dawn and dusk but other visits.
Graceful warblers: foraging in grasses and pines, We usually see them because they're as quick as wrens, but when we get them in bino view they are just so cute! Stripey heads and perky long graduated tail. Syrian woodpeckers: calls, alarm calls, quite vocal, some drumming in pine w malfoy

I skipped 3rd July because I was feeling blah.
4th July: 26.9 and falling, 39% and rising, W 10.4 kt
Gazelle- just after 7 p.m. 1 female or well grown young, without horns but with clear markings, v nice.. about 100ft behind cistern in eastern end of gazelle field, probably came down from behind the pine grove.. saw it lick its flank back left flank a few times but no obvious site of injury. About an hour checking both fields found no sign of others.
Turtle doves: plenty coos
Bee-eaters: several hunting over gazelle fore field, lots of prrps to west.
House sparrows: Senegal doves:Hooded crows:Feral pigeons: pretty much as usual
Jackdaws: small flock at foot of hill to east again, just beyond the security fence.
Jays: Busy as usual on field and dry stone walls both fields, Collared doves, coos, active over north field especially around the cistern.
Greenfinches: plenty twittering and cheeing, not on thistles today.
Blackbirds: song and foraging in usual territories. There's a regular songster in the north valley just down from the houses and another regular in a pine stand picnic area where the valley road turns south
Stone curlews: vocal and nice view of one flying over slopes of hill to north between north field and the village of Adam. Always great to actually see them.
Sunbirds: Vocally active today in Bauhinia, in centre of wood along trail between valley road and cistern and along valley road.. I'd estimate maybe five territories between the bunker and the pumping station. We saw one today foraging in the top of a cypress, probably for insects. Along our street at least as many territories given they can use many ornamental plants for nesting and feeding. Despite the fact that our local 'sapphireness' was lovey dovey with his mate all summer so far, nothing to show for it.. well at least he's had a good time and no responsibilities, but sad no success, probably the cats the neighbours encourage kept them from breeding this year. Seems they managed last year.
Graceful warblers: calls
Syrian woodpeckers: quite active today.. plenty calls and alarm calls and some noticed in flight
Bulbuls: Quite vocal today
Great tits, wheatears, chukars: none noticed.

Monday, July 2, 2007

feral dogs

28 June- 1 July

31 degrees C, 12.2 kt W, 28%
2 Gazelles in east field, spooked by pack of dogs, took off west across field for cover of pines A larger and smaller, probably a mom with well grown young.
(Range estimate for this herd (maximum seen at one time, 10, two main family groups) .. at least 2 km by several hundred metres for field range.. about the same again for trees plus at least an extra couple hundred metres wide for some parts of the two valleys. At any time any of the gazelles can be in the fields or under the trees. We don't know if they ever go south of the pumping station but that could add at least a kilometre or so to their range that direction if they do.
hyrax - some activity)
Feral dogs pack of eight.. led by handsome red- brown individual. (using pretty much the same range AND definitely also using the valley south of pumping station. These would be definitely serious predators of injured or young gazelle. The main predators of the herd of gazelle in the south of Jerusalem is a pack of jackals, but I have seen no jackals up here, only canids being just foxes (which prey on smaller game) and these feral dogs. ) Yes, these really do resemble dingoes and dholes a lot in build certainly and in colouring in the case of most. These continued down, checked out the gazelle field, all in neat single file and headed south into the woods by the dry creek. One brown and white individual remained there for some minutes.
reptiles several lined lizards about, gecko calling "tuk tuk" in ruins
Turtle doves: coos
Bee-eaters: several heard
Great spotted cuckoos heard in pine grove to east of cistern
House sparrows, Senegal doves,Hooded crows, Eurasian Jays, Feral pigeons: as usual, our garden sunbird as usual
Greenfinches: still foraging on thistle heads, many juvenile birds about.
Blackbirds: some song
Chukars: family on bunker ruins picking about, at least half a dozen chicks. 1 dustbathing on trail up to east field
Collared doves: flight calls, foraging, active as usual, Stone curlews: very vocal after 6.30 pm, Graceful warblers: foraging grasses start of valley road
Syrian woodpeckers: calls, alarm calls
Unfortunately when we were in the east field I sustained a slight foot injury and decided to rest my foot all of friday. It's still painful but I'm taking care of it and taking it easy. Went down to the bunker today (30th June) before sunset. The heatwave has definitely abated, temps were in mid 20s degrees C, wind was nice breezy west veering south west 15 kt, humidity over 50% and rising.
Bird activity similar to above.. lots of greenfinches busy by the bunker, active foraging for thistle seeds, many juveniles/immatures amongst them. About half a dozen bee-eaters foraging in the airspace between the pines at eastern end of north valley again, a few venturing out to hunt over gazelle field as far as over the giant pine behind the cistern. The cistern itself was visited by Eurasian jays, collared doves and turtle doves as usual. Several hoopoes seen within a few hundred yards of the bunker, I'd guess at least half a dozen regular along paths to bunker and in groves. They seem to love to forage actually on the paths, you think the ground would be harder packed but probably quite a few surface insects to get. An immature wheatear spotted by the path in the middle of the woods, interestingly, first time we've noticed one so far under the trees but still plenty rocky- wheatear friendly little glades they can use. We wondered if he was a 'bob junior' or from another family. Stone curlews quite vocal north valley direction approaching sunset. Usually their calls come from the more open ground at north edges and over where the gazelles graze and beyond though sometimes they sound much closer and as in our observation a couple of weeks ago, they probably also come under the pines toward the bottom of the valley.