Monday, April 28, 2008

Hawks rule the skies today

This beautiful shot by Ferran Pestana conveys the majesty of an old world Buteo in flight.

Centaurea procurrens, a common bright yellow thistle type flower

The cooling westerlies continue. Range today was 10-20 degrees C, almost 16 degrees C when we headed out for our walk just after 6 p.m. Humidity was 62% and rising, winds NNW just over 6 kt. Skies clear.

When we went out for our evening walk at about 10 p.m. we saw intermittent sheet lightning high in clouds way east over the rift valley, perhaps even as far as Jordan.

Several hawks (Buteo) were soaring high over the east valley and gazelle field, at least half a dozen though we saw different individuals at different times.. they were drifting south with the wind. A hooded crow flew high up to harass one of them but the larger bird dodged its attempts quite easily. The Buteos weren't together but seemed to be prospecting as individuals. Long legged buzzards? (Buteo rufinus ) one of most likely. I'm not great at IDing these as they are very self similar esp. at high altitude.. there are quite a few variations between different ages, the more immature birds having more brown in their plumage, the more mature birds generally lighter. Later we noticed one try to settle on top of a cypress just south east of the orchard. Another hoodie had a nesting territory there and chased it off, it barely had a chance to settle, continued toward the south. Then the hoodie stood on the tallest cypress, on guard.

Around the buildings: White spectacled bulbuls very vocal, laughing doves cooing, house sparrows noisy, feral pigeons moving about in small flocks, jackdaws very vocal.

In the valley greenfinches vocal and active, collared doves cooing and active.. we noticed a male coming on to a female on a line over the new pines, east end of north valley.. she flew off into the pines. Syrian woodpecker calls, quite a bit of jay activity and some calls, blackbird song, quite a bit of great tit noise in the new pines, probably busy with a family/families in there. Turtle doves heard by the orchard. Nice chase between two falcons over gazelle valley, hobbies from the look of them. Stone curlews heard towards sunset and after dark.

As we came up valley road toward sunset a group of 14 or so bee-eaters came down north valley from the direction of the quarry, flying quite high over the south bank and the houses at the end of the neighbourhood there, and then headed down toward gazelle valley, calling.

Still no sightings of gazelle, cuckoos also quiet but there has been quite a bit of activity in the valley lately due to vacation which has probably caused the gazelle to keep their distance.

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