Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nightingale, swifts and the dark fox

Our treat today was the discovery of a nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos foraging in the dry stream bed by the beginning of the sapling field just a few yards away from us. They are extraordinarily drab and furtive birds and finding it at all was a stroke of luck as it hunted in the rocks and on the bank, every so often flicking its rufous tail up and whistling a surprisingly loud plain call. Presently it left the bank and foraged around a fallen eucalyptus. No doubt this one is stopping by for a refuel on its way south. Husband got close enough to see central dark tail feathers but regrettably we didn't manage to get a good enough pic.

The other passage migrant today was some kind of swift, not obvious which, clearly smaller than common swifts (ours already headed south months ago), we watched at least a dozen individuals in very loose association hunt over the valley and slowly make their way south. It occurred to me that they might be (crag) martins but their wing shape and flight style was definitely swift like, tails short though undersides pale, upper dark, not black. Strange. Only swift all pale underparts is alpine swift and they didn't seem anywhere near big enough for those.

Brief sighting of the dark fox crossing dry stream path trail across from the pistaccio orchard. It quickly made its way across the pine grove there (no underbrush in that section at all) and then disappeared into the stream bed, and was out of view.

Also collared dove in eucalyptus near look out corner, quiet, Eurasian jays, quite a few singles seen about the woods as usual, some screeches. Jackdaw flock about and heard, hooded crows about though quiet. Masked shrike heard from down in north valley, graceful warblers from around valley road, blackbirds in middle of the pines area. White spectacled bulbuls also heard especially near the pumping station. Hyrax screech alarm also heard from that area. Falcon over, heading towards neighbourhood. Kestrel?

North west gazelle field, two gazelles, grazing just beyond the almond tree line, adult male and another, the buck was plainly interested and following the other, which ran a little way, buck also accelerated as they moved back towards the pines.

House sparrows around the garden and sunbird heard, feral pigeons aloft,

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