Monday, September 8, 2008

Raptor Drama

hyrax: Plenty activity especially the cypress slum colony.. sentry adults ranged on rocks on east side of valley road
reptiles: Gecko last night by the road. No gazelle
Masked shrike also heard yesterday from pines just north of central trail

Most dramatic event of the late afternoon toward sunset were the appearance of at least 40 big brown jobs, Buteo types, very dark, not black kites though, look too dark for honey buzzards (?)unless they're immatures, possible. This caused a furore amongst the local birds particularly hooded crows, jackdaws and the hobbies. The buzzards steadily dropped altitude and were clearly wanting to settle down to roost in the pines but the crows had other ideas.

We watched one crow attempt to take on a raptor but the latter easily dodged it in flight, it can turn and bank with a nifty flick of a pinion with hardly any apparent effort at all while the crow flaps and struggles to gain altitude and reach it for some kind of attack. The crow gave up pretty soon. The falcons tend to try to dive bomb them, working in pairs, taking turns but they don't seem to inflict significant damage either, it's hard to tell. Perhaps they do get injuries, scratches we don't see. Birds can't afford to lose much blood, they are quite delicate in that respect.

When the first buzzards appeared we noticed some smaller birds flying amongst them.. pretty far but definitely hirundines from the mode of flight, probably common swallows from what I could make out, also in passage and apparently using the same thermal for their own purposes.

The flock of about 70-80 jackdaws split, most heading south toward Pisgat Zeev, over the southern woods and about 25 over the middle woods in an attempt to prevent touchdown but because they were clearly afraid of coming really close they did not succeed, it was inevitable the larger birds would find roost. Meanwhile the hobbies continued their fuss over the woods beyond the pumping station.

Hobbies: At least two or three up and taking on the passage migrants, calling many times, aggravated, excited, they didn't like the presence of the larger raptors in their territory at all! Susan (across the valley) confirmed the presence of a fourth hobby, (comments last entry) which is awesome since to date we'd only suspected four birds from calls this year, but not managed to see them all in flight. This also confirms successful breeding this year.. two of the birds are almost definitely the young of this season.

Eurasian Jays: Also making some fuss as the raptors settled in the pines to roost, nasal squawking, could have been their usual squabbling too.
Blackbirds: Some calls, Collared doves: about but relatively quiet, Great tits, some calls.
Stone curlews: Some calls lately. Graceful warblers:Quite vocal lately, Syrian woodpeckers: some calls

House sparrows, Feral pigeons, laughing doves: around houses. Sunbirds singing and calling in Bauhinia. White spectacled bulbul musical calling almost song quality also in there,

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