Monday, February 18, 2008

Before the next storm. Mir and James.

Today, heard from the house- house sparrows, blackbird in song in the garden and some alarm calls, white wagtail from the street, some white spectacled bulbul calls, hooded crow from farther off, some low laughing dove coos, great tit from farther off? briefly.
We stepped out about in front of the house between 4 pm and 4.30 p.m. ,the wind was gusting and greyish cumulus sweeping in from the west and south west at speed, at least 20 kt up there bringing cold rain, temperatures falling rapidly from about 7 degrees C.

Birds were busy and active finding last minute forage and moving towards shelter, the house sparrows seemed excited, quite a few birds on the move including small groups of finches, some definitely greenfinches moving from cypress in our neighbour's garden and the east forest pines. Husband spotted a flock of ~50 european starlings doing its amoeba act over the buildings to the west. A flock of feral pigeons settled on their favourite roof rail nearby and a few jackdaws passed around over the buildings as well as the odd hooded crow. Plaintive black redstart call from direction of the bank by valley road.

We were on the look- out for swifts, (Apus apus) as these tend to arrive this time of year, betw 15 and 20 Feb pretty reliably and Alen Cacal at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory has already spotted a small group across town. No luck with those though this time though we constantly scanned the skies and listened for their screams.

As a post-script I shall now add my daily little list at the two webcams I regularly visit though my window of observation is small due to time constraints.
this gives a choice of sights but I've found Denbury farm the best and busiest for birds.

I generally check out Denbury farm, Somerset, UK for half an hour or so about noon and James Reserve California on and off throughout their day (PST).

Denbury farm: (mixed habitat, fields, deciduous trees, hedgerows, nearby river)
Today: robin, blue tits, great tits, greenfinch flock, marsh tit, house sparrow, chaffinch.

James Reserve: (pine forest, in many ways a New World parallel of what we have here in the Mir Forest, similar latitude and habitat and probably altitude too, fairly similar climate though James seems a touch cooler and damper) Yaar Biriah in the Galilee may be a closer analog.
Yesterday: American crow, mountain chickadees, purple finches, Steller's jays, mourning dove, pygmy nuthatch.
Today so far, it's still morning there yet, purple finches, white breasted nuthatch, oregon junco (western race of dark eyed junco), mountain chickadees.
They only seem to replace the fat block once a week and the jays finish it in short order.. pity because a pair of brown creepers were using it just within the past few weeks and now they are discouraged:(

It's easy to see the birds that fill similar niches in Mir forest and James' reserve, for example
Israel: middle eastern race of Eurasian Jay, Calif: Steller's Jay
Israel: collared dove Calif: Mourning dove
Israel: great tit Calif: mountain chickadee
Israel: greenfinch Calif: purple finch
Israel: Syrian woodpecker Calif: white headed woodpecker
Israel: Hooded crow Calif: American crow
Israel: orange tufted sunbirds Calif: Anna's hummingbird
There are other examples particularly amongst the softbills that don't come to the feeders but these are the most obvious parallels.

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