Tuesday, April 1, 2008

White storks

I found this nice aerial shot in creative commons, taken by Raffa over Ethiopia.

8 -15 degrees C today, Time we were out, humidity ~70% and rising, winds westerly and about 9 kt
Sky mostly clear, some cumulus coming in towards dusk.

White storks about an hour or so before sunset. Amazing good fortune and very happy since I thought we'd missed our chance this season, I'd noticed flock of feral pigeons coming over north ridge flying south, was following them with binoculars when they flew right in front of a stork flock, what a sweet stroke of luck, you can imagine my eyes widening! They were just over/beyond north ridge, I'd probably have missed them with the naked eye, it was so far and high but birds clear in binoculars, black and strong white, crisscrossing.
We both took turns looking. Due to distance and the way they crisscrossed it was hard to estimate numbers but between 100 and 150 birds. I was surprised to see them apparently using a thermal so late in the day but no doubt they just had time, and were in perfect position, to glide into a roost somewhere in the Jordan valley for the night.

Adult buck gazelle just beyond dry stone wall in east field, just a little south of the olive grove. I'd already scanned north field and hillside a few times but found none.
Passed by the hyrax colonies but none out today
Group of bee-eaters, heard periodically on our walk (as yesterday), didn't see more than 6 or so together
White spectacled bulbul, a number of locations on our walk
Collared dove, coos, some flight calls, plenty activity
Eurasian sparrowhawk - (Cap'n Jack) approaching sunset, over valley road heading south heading toward neighbourhood centre.
Chukar partridges, chuckling up on the hillside to east near the pumping station
Blackbirds, song about an hour before sunset
Great tits, activity near where the stream bed approaches the security fence, I'd have thought the scrub a touch low for them but apparently enough cover for possible breeding there soon.
Black eared wheatear, male, hunting same area as above, and some melodious calls.
Lark song, somewhere up on the northern hillside, couldn't actually see it. Crested larks Galerida cristata common in Israel (I've seen them many times) but could be one of the others.
Greenfinches, 'chaw' calls and twitters about sunset
Hooded crows, activity and calls
Eurasian jays, activity
Syrian woodpeckers, activity and some calls
Graceful warbler, calls, Swift calls about sunset
Laughing dove and house sparrows in the garden, cooing and noisemaking respectively, as usual, many sunbird and white spectacled bulbul calls esp as it started to grow dark.

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