Monday, April 7, 2008

The quarry

Amazing how much the quarry mimics their favourite desert canyon habitat, they'd feel right at home here! perhaps they'll attempt to breed. Taken today, April 7th, ~6.30 p.m. by A. Atwood.

Today we headed up north valley as far as a stone quarry that was abandoned about ten years ago, partly to explore and partly to check out gazelle activity as per Amir Balaban's recommendation. We didn't see any gazelle at all but did find a fresh mound of dung close to the quarry.. the kind of pile that's usually made by a territorial male. (and seems to me perhaps too far away from the male holding court at gazelle field and east field, but that can only be determined by spotting lone adult males and noting any subtle differences between them.

On the way we passed plenty acacia wattles and hawthorns in bloom as well as a lot of Ainsworthia,

The old quarry buildings were almost eerie and desolate, could have made a great movie set. The quarry area was inhabited by chukar partridges (to my amusement I saw a couple scamper into the buildings, at second storey level, there was a ramp of dirt or concrete outside on the roof of a lower level), a number of feral pigeons, house sparrows and graceful warblers. We were particularly rewarded by quite close views of two Tristram's grackle/starling flying around between rocks, rebars and a large roll of barbed wire, and whistling at each other. They seemed to be a pair (the female has a greyer head) They're nice sized birds, (24-27 cm long) like small crows, allowing approach of 15-20 feet. We enjoyed watching them for quite some minutes.

Along the way we also saw and heard swifts, Syrian woodpeckers, a small group of bee-eaters, some blackbirds. Husband believes he glimpsed a sparrowhawk

At the house we heard sunbirds, senegal doves, white spectacled bulbuls. Bauhinias are starting to bloom again, providing more nectar food for sunbirds.

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