Monday, February 25, 2008

Rained out

Jerusalem, Israel. Despite being rained out today there's still enough to report.
Temps were ~6 degrees C to ~12.5 degrees C, winds fluctuating and westerly, averaging about 7 kt with intermittent thunder and quite heavy rain to drizzle most of the day.

Tragedy today at Eyn Geddi, a canyon system draining into the Dead Sea from the Judean Desert about 70 km south of here. (subject of a couple of entries in this blog last August) Na'hal David flash-flooded and a tourist was killed. His girlfriend survived and was found some time later after a search. About 30 other visitors had to be rescued. I wonder what Eyn Geddi could do to upgrade flood warning systems- they had not expected it otherwise they'd have closed the park, but several hikers were killed there last summer too.

The local birds have finally found our bird table (located between the willow and Bauhinia tree) and today during a brief dry period it was practically mobbed by the local house sparrow convention and a pair of laughing doves peck-pecking away and barely tolerating the sparrows. I now want to rig some hanging feeders suitable for the local greenfinches and great tits etc.

Laughing doves also heard cooing a little, sunbird's squeaky call heard as well as blackbird 'tzeeet' and 'chak chak', white spectacled bulbuls, and also jackdaw flock and white wagtail from farther off. Saw some hooded crows winging home south after forage. Rosemary beds in the public gardens are in full bloom and smelling lovely after the rain, and blackbird singing toward dusk.

Somerset, England: Shortly before noon our usual crowd was working the feeders. Multiple great tits and greenfinches, several blue tits, chaffinches, brief visits by coal tit and robin. A great spotted woodpecker pair appeared.. the male briefly perched on the squirrel box then left, the female (which lacks red on the head) stayed to work at the right feeder.

Meanwhile at James Reserve, California temperatures below freezing for first half of the morning but bright and sunny though humidity high. When I first looked in - 6.39 a.m. local time, mountain chickadees were already at work, a gang of 4 steller's jays showed up and soon after that two pairs of mourning doves, visiting feeders, ground under feeders and the water dish (always a good place to look if you have the time, especially over the hot summer months, because this also gets species that don't come to grain feeders. Camera used to be on a nice stone water dish.. this has lately been changed to a metal dish attached to the side of a pine about two feet above the ground.
Soon oregon junco and purple finches arrived for breakfast followed some time later by American crow, white breasted nuthatch (8.38 a.m) and pygmy nuthatch.
The best surprise early afternoon yesterday was a nice white headed woodpecker on the pine below the fat block (which is of course entirely consumed now)
The other main woodpecker on the reserve is the acorn woodpecker but so far I've only seen this visit the water bowl.
I tend to keep James in another window when I'm messing around on the P.C. and check back there every so often to see what's happening. I'm sure that way I miss some stuff but catch the most frequent flyers so to speak. Today I went in earlier due to weather conditions here.
Here's a screen shot I just took of a pair of pygmy nuthatches.

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