Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Bird for the Patch

Common Snipe (Wikipedia)

Heard from the house: house sparrows, Jackdaws, white spectacled bulbuls.
Feral pigeons on the roof rails as per usual.

Range today 4-13 degrees C, about 4.20 p.m. 7.8 degrees C, humidity 19% , wind SE 1.7 kt
high altitude wispy long clouds today and yesterday. View over the Jordan valley quite clear today and yesterday due to general low humidity.

While walking down central trail husband pointed out an interesting shape under the pines a little over fifty feet from the path.

At first it just appeared to be a reddish brown and white rock though this one looked a lot softer and fluffier than the average rock and, incongruously, had a very long slender bill. My first impression was 'snipe!' (Gallinago sp) It was so fluffed against the cold I could not make out any barring or striping at all, it stood quite still, front facing us. As I inched towards it presently it got up and walked away quite hastily behind the little ridge it had been standing on and seconds after husband saw a bird in flight from there which had quite narrow swept back wings.. much more like a snipe than a woodcock. Frustrating I could not make out more fine detail.

It did seem about as large as a woodcock and the crown was somewhat peaked like one but there was really nothing close to it to get a good sense of size so I could be wrong. Woodcocks (Scolopax rusticola) are quite likely to occur here, especially alone in such a habitat whereas I might have expected snipes to be in company and more in the open. Both commonly winter in Israel. I have seen snipes in winter here before, a few on the hillsides of Bayit Vegan in South Jerusalem years ago. However the wing shape husband noticed was much more snipe than woodcock. At any rate, one of the Scolopacidae, that much was easy to decide!

It's amazing how often pine-cones and leaves and rocks turn out to be birds and vice versa! I don't mind a hundred false alarms on suspicious rocks if a few of them turn out to be something like this. Either bird is a new one for our patch, though I would like to be sure!

'Blackjack' (male Black redstart) was busy flicking and hunting on the far rebars of the bunker ruins again. Shortly after we had a beautiful view of Cap'n Jack (Eurasian Sparrowhawk) sweeping through the eucalyptus grove and landing in an upper eucalyptus branch by look-out corner.

Blackbirds chacking at one another from both sides of the southward turn in valley road towards dusk

No show on gazelles today.

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