Saturday, March 29, 2008

Return of the Bee-eaters

The beautiful bee-eater, courtesy of Ruthie Schueler. The Jerusalem Bird Observatory rings such birds, weighs and measures them, guaging state of health, and releases them back to the wild.

Pleasant spring day, altocumulus coming in late afternoon. Early afternoon winds veered from southerlies to westerly, 6-12 kt.

In the garden this morning, laughing doves, white spectacled bulbuls, sunbird.
Also, early, about 6 a.m. a distinct 'oop oop oop' that persisted some time, typical of a hoopoe, sounded very close, our garden, next door's garden or on the building itself. Soundly vaguely doving or owlish.

Highlight of the day was the appearance of a group of European bee-eaters, Merops apiaster first of the season! We heard their pleasant contact calls before we saw them as we approached from the south along the stream trail. There were 12 hunting as a group the whole time we were down there. They shifted around from over the eucalyptus grove, the orchard, part of lower gazelle field, look-out corner. Though they constantly changed positions within the group they moved as a group, no bird straying more than a few dozen feet from the others at most.

I found three gazelle grazing in a grassy spot on the hillside way north of us, in line with the top of the pylons. There were probably more in the vicinity that I was unable to see due to the distance and the camouflage effect. Couldn't even be sure if it had horns.

Other birds around, Hooded crows, Eurasian jays, Syrian woodpeckers, greenfinches, collared doves, latter cooing and flight calling. Blackbird calls and some song about sunset, on a small tree just above the drain outlet by the north section of valley road.
Chukar partridges heard down in north valley.

Acacias in glorious flower, thickly covered rows of little yellow 'pompoms'

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