Sunday, December 23, 2007

Long Eared Owl

Sat: Garden: House sparrows, white spectacled bulbul, laughing dove coos, also around betw garden and valley: graceful warblers, black redstarts, stonechats.

Most dramatic incident today was the sight of a Eurasian sparrowhawk flying from the east woods toward the pine plantation just east of the cistern, with a sizeable bird in its talons, almost two thirds its own size it seemed and quite heavy as the hawk was barely clearing the ground by ten, fifteen feet carrying it on its way. From feathers we found on the ground near the edge of gazelle field and a few more under the pines at the plantation it was difficult to tell what the prey had been.. they seemed to be breast feathers. They were white at the base, grey in the middle and soft dark brown in the upper third. Hen blackbird at a guess.

Gazelle hoof tracks on the central trail.

Sunday update:

range 7-13 degrees C, 4.30 p.m. 9 degrees C, humidity 55% and rising, wind SE, light

4 gazelle north fields about sunset, by the foot of the pylon and just beyond the last wall. They moved as a group toward the shade of the pines of north valley

Most exciting sighting of the day was a plausible though brief long eared owl sighting toward dusk, flying between pines. We first heard an excited male blackbird put up an alarm. Then the much larger brown/grey bird flew silently to the middle of a young pine toward the edge of a glade by central path. This is not the first time we'd had glimpses of an owl like bird in this region but always so brief. The light was so dim at this point we could not make it out well in the pine tree. As we approached the bird departed and flew to another pine, clattering against branches a little on its departure but otherwise flight was silent We tried to follow decided we didn't want to molest the bird and light was almost gone.

The valley is perfect habitat for long eared owls here and I'd long suspected there had to be some in there somewhere but we have yet to get a decent sighting.

Also s
een and/or heard, Hooded crows (fly by of 25 returning from foraging north of here to windsurfer hill), house sparrows, white spectacled bulbuls, senegal doves, black redstarts, graceful warblers, stonechats, jackdaws.

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