Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Headbutting Adolescent gazelles

Jerusalem, Israel

Tuesday March 4
~8 degrees C-~17 degrees C. At about 5 p.m. ~15 degrees. Humidity 66%, wind light and SE
sky totally clear.

From the house: House sparrows, a vocal white spectacled bulbul, distant hooded crows. As we headed out a sunbird called from one of the gardens along the front of the terrace, a party of sparrows erupted in terrific clamour from the cape honeysuckle, a laughing dove cooed from another garden close by and the usual feral pigeons were perched up on the building tops. Hooded crows winged home singly as the afternoon progressed.

Heading down shortcut to valley road spotted a new flower out, a largeish vetch, dark salmon coloured and veined, growing by the rocks on the bank. Plenty yellow savyon and wild mustard, red anemone and shepherd's purse still blooming there.

Heading into the woods chiffchaff calls, great tits, small groups of finches, probably greenfinches, perhaps also chaffinches but didn't get clear view. Piping calls probably black redstarts but didn't get good views. I'm not sure when they leave but probably within a month which is why I'm trying to get in the last sighting of the season soon. Still no more swifts in the neighbourhood but since breeding season not in full swing yet there's time. Plenty Eurasian jays foraging about. Blackbirds and graceful warblers heard though no blackbird song today. (Yesterday pretty much the same assortment but with addition of white wagtail from the street)

Sitting on a dry stone wall under the pines near look-out corner watching the rubble for black redstarts. None appeared, could they have moved off already?
Heard plenty active great tits, Syrian woodpecker call from north valley pines.

Then I noticed adult buck gazelle grazing by himself in the north east corner of gazelle field a hundred feet or so beyond the cistern.

Soon after, husband noticed a small group way off in the north west corner of the field, on the lower slopes. Four individuals, two, undoubtedly young males, involved in a lively head butting contest. They were really going at it, sproinging, tackling one another, leaping backwards, and engaging again. Every few minutes they'd take a break, have a leisurely graze, then go in for another tackle. These are probably just practice spars, 'play' as their hormones ready them for the serious jousting they'll do when their horns are much more developed.

I looked into Denbury Farm, Somerset, England in the early afternoon. The feeder was as usual super busy with great tits, blue tits, greenfinches, chaffinches, house sparrows, a European nuthatch, a coal tit, long tailed tit, female great spotted woodpecker and two hen pheasants. One flew up on top of the squirrel feeder again, then realized she couldn't reach anything from up there and had to gingerly hop down to the ledge in front of the feeder. This was rather precarious and awkward for her (relatively) enormous frame so she soon hopped down to the ground and settled on hunting up seed and grain that had fallen. Grey squirrel and wild rabbit also came into view.

Yesterday at James Reserve, Calfornia were mountain chickadees, a couple of steller's jay (no surprise, one of the fat blocks had been replaced), pygmy nuthatch, 3 mourning dove, a white breasted nuthatch, an American crow and oregon junco about sunset.

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