Saturday, March 8, 2008

collared dove courtship season underway

Jerusalem, Israel. Weather was rather overcast and 'muggy' today. Temp range: ~19-~26 degrees C. ~4 kt SSE, humidity actually lower than it feels, only 22% max and falling throughout the day, probably particles in the air, fine dust and pollen, feels heavy.

Around the gardens, the predictable laughing dove coos, house sparrow chatter and some sunbird calls.

Plenty white spectacled bulbul vocalisations as well as graceful warbler calls and blackbirds. Jackdaws heard, hooded crows seen and heard. Quite a number of Eurasian jays active in the pines though quiet today.

Most noteworthy observation today was the renewal of the collared dove Streptopelia decaocto breeding season down in east valley.. a number of doves much more conspicuous today.. individuals following others giving the coarse flight call, and coos heard from various quarters. No actual obvious display flights noticed.

At the same time greenfinch vocalizations have returned.. the 'chaww' call heard and some twittering. Chaffinches also about, top of cypress again, very predictable position for them, and heard their sharp 'chink' call.. similar to that of a sparrow but more 'chipped' . Several finch bands about, probably both chaffinches and greenfinches.

Waited for a while at look-out corner for black redstarts and others. None appeared on the bunker rubble though it was getting rather late. We did hear the rather urgent piping of one somewhere nearby. Earlier we had seen chiffchaffs about foraging up in the trees and heard their contact call which is a touch shorter and lacks a slight upward inflexion at the end, but similar pitch and just as carrying as the BRS alarm call. The CC alarm call itself is quite different, a little coarser and more like 'weeit'

Loud cricket in the orchard already calling about 5.35 p.m.

From look-out corner just about sunset, (muezzins calling maghrib) far north west end of gazelle field/lower slopes, again two sparring young male gazelles, locking tiny horns and sproinging backwards and forwards. I handed husband the binoculars so he could see the 'dance' but they must have run off behind the trees to the north west because he missed them, they weren't there a minute or two later when I had the next chance to view. Nice though, to see them.

Other mammals about were a nice adult hyrax grazing and staring at us at 'cypress slum' colony and another calling harsh alarm bark from pump station colony shortly after sunset.

Just after 6 p.m. repeated stone curlew calls from northern fields and slopes of north valley. Husband noticed an answering call from the direction of windsurfer hill. I'm sure they breed on all the open ground to east and north of the forested valleys.

Visiting Denbury Farm, Somerset, England, briefly at about 5 p.m. local time, several blue tits, and chaffinches as well as repeated great tit, robin, coal tit and marsh tits. Then the camera was turned to the badger feeding area. Can be entertaining to watch the badgers come out to eat peanut butter and bread put out for them. Sometimes a red fox sneaks in to grab a piece or two.
It's about 7.30 p.m. local time right now.. no badgers around but it seems to be raining quite heavily. However, a few mice are running around the feeding area.

Meanwhile it's about 11.30 a.m. at James Reserve California, bright and sunny, temps already about 60 degrees F. and there's a fresh fat block in place. Based on a delayed image a band tailed pigeon and some mountain chickadee were there a short while ago and a nice big glossy American crow has arrived at the feeder. Now there's a pygmy nuthatch upside down on the fat block feeder, a female Carpodacus finch and a mountain chickadee. A short while ago a male finch was on the feeder. Carpodacus finches can be tricky to tell apart.. purple and (the very variable) house finches can look quite similar though purple finches generally have a more 'mulberry' hue and are abundant on the reserve but the male I just saw looked very similar in colour to many House finch males I've seen in the bay area. Could just be the bright sunshine on it. There are now three nice plump band tailed pigeons on the feeder. Chickadee at the fat block.

Still no badgers. Signing off for now.

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