Monday, May 19, 2008

The sunbird nest and other sightings.

View from the north east, you can see the nest hanging down just below the white flowers.

Nest of orange tufted sunbird, Nectarinia osea, a suspended dome woven of many fine materials. The entrance (invisible from this angle) faces the fence to the south.

Today we headed out quite a bit later, it was 6.43 p.m. though still plenty light left. Today, temperature range 14-26 degrees C. , about 22.5 degrees C when we set out. 57% humidity, winds westerly, just over 11 knots. (late morning, early afternoon again turned easterly and dropped, as did humidity)

Heading down one of our shortcuts from the buildings to valley road we heard a parakeet call, then watched a very nice ring necked parakeet in flight over east valley, heading into the largest pines and eucalyptus.

I could not ignore the flames and smoke up the road to the north. We called services then helped some local boys put out another fire by valley road, (on the east side this time and endangering the ground cover of a large stretch). By the time the firemen came we'd already won!

Very little ground cover was lost. Another stretch of bank was lost we noticed, about equal to the earlier patch. Growing season is apparently NOT over and it seems the fires may stimulate the growth of some plants. Much green is sprouting on burnt patches over two or three weeks old and new plants in their season growing up in other places too. Each in its own season.

Then we headed down to the cistern, which still holds some toads and innumerable water boatmen. Collared doves, turtle doves, house sparrows, hooded crows, Eurasian jays have all been noticed visiting it lately. They can't sip from the edges, they fly down and stand on any of the partially submerged car tires inside. Boys no doubt rolled them in for fun but it works out well because they help the birds! Collared doves, laughing doves and turtle doves all cooing today and there's probably also a turtle dove nest in the large pine by the cistern. Greenfinch and blackbird song heard. At least a dozen bee-eaters hunting for bugs over the field and a few swifts. It's a simple pleasure just to follow the bee-eaters in my sights, watch them swoop and turn expertly. Stone curlews heard. Thursday we saw one land over in the north of gazelle field, was in plain sight till I blinked.. when I looked again it had already scuttled to camouflage!

I did not record thursday or saturday's walks separately as they were not so remarkable, (friday we were too busy) and decided to mention any relevant sightings later. The only other I remember is quite a lot of Syrian woodpecker drumming heard from the east valley lower trail. Husband felt the bird was using a pole rather than a tree to make that noise but we didn't find him. Possible he was right, or an older, partly hollow tree would have had a similar timbre.

Two gazelle spotted way up on the northern skyline, grazing close to the fence. One buck, the other I couldn't tell.

Plenty hooded crows about, by their tree-top nests or foraging on the ground. Feral pigeons as usual, lots of house sparrows about the buildings, White spectacled bulbul early in the Bauhinia, sunbirds squeaking alarm on and off through the day. Hobbies again heard but not sighted. Syrian woodpeckers about. Shrike heard somewhere in the eucalyptus grove, probably another masked shrike.

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