Saturday, May 3, 2008

Temperature upswing, nice turn out today.

A beautifully coloured Scabiosa rhizantha (?) or similar A. Atwood.

Pleasant upswing in the temperatures today, perhaps partly to do with the warmer easterlies that blew much of the morning. Range:13-23 and up to about 19 degrees C when we went out for our walk. Humidity was down to 47%, winds westerly and about 8 knots. Sky clear

First birds I heard through my window this morning were house sparrows, very melodious white spectacled bulbul, very vocal sunbird, more distant hooded crow, laughing dove and then some greenfinch song, perhaps from the cypresses next door. I noticed when the bulbuls set into a repetitive grating call the sunbird did its repetitive 'toy' squeak at about the same time. Probably both alarm calls due to a cat where they were both breeding.

Heading down to the valley, husband noticed a ring necked parakeet fly into an Ailanthus at the north east tip of our lower neighbourhood, overlooking north valley. We both noticed two more parakeets down in the eucalyptus behind look-out corner. Hooded crows appeared to be nesting two trees over, I hope that didn't put off the pair of turtle doves which usually nest very close to there and we haven't heard them in the last few days. Collared doves were cooing and active as usual. A group of bee-eaters were heard and made a brief appearance over the eucalyptus trees, then dipped down out of view.. we only saw nine of them so we don't know the size of the group today. A hobby headed up east valley over the Pistaccio orchard.

We were delighted to see the local alpha male gazelle grazing over just beyond one of the smaller almond trees at the north end of gazelle field. He picked up his head and looked over at us, then returned to his grazing, unconcerned. We hadn't seen any of the gazelle for days so we were happy to see any again.

Stone curlew are very vocal and active all along the open margins just beyond the forest. We had a nice sighting of one flying across gazelle field as far as the pines, then wheeled around, crossed the field again behind the cistern pine and settled down somewhere over by the fence. We hear them almost every day but don't see them unless they fly because their camouflage is so perfect. The small gazelle can melt into the landscape very effectively. The curlew, a fraction of the size, is pretty much invisible on the ground especially when there's so much to look over, one's eyes would be tired out long before spotting one! Most of our sightings on the ground have been pure luck, and if they hadn't been moving to forage we still would not have seen them. When sitting on a nest they simply vanish. When they take wing however they're unmistakable, their long pale striped wings mark them.

Other birds noted active today were Syrian woodpeckers, graceful warblers, great tits, Eurasian jays and feral pigeons. Melodious calls from the field were probably black eared wheatears but we didn't get good sightings of them.

Rock hyrax were very active around sunset today.. looked like all of 'slum cypress' colony were out foraging on the bank and there was much chittering and barking. As we approach many lower down the bank scampered across the road towards their dens but others higher up the bank stayed and continued their activities there. We noticed a 'face off' on a boulder between two mature individuals just a few feet from where we stood. One barked a squeaky two note bark (long/ short) repeatedly in the other one's face till the silent one decided to turn aside and go another way. Possibly the hyrax version of 'None shall pass!' . The shaggy hyrax probably had a den just behind and below and didn't feel like sharing it with the other. Others made more elaborate barking calls on the bank, no doubt each bark means something - different contact calls and alarm barks.
Red dragonfly at the cistern. A.Atwood,a week or so ago

No comments: