Thursday, October 30, 2008

Are the robins back? Jemima Puddleduck.

Temperature range today: 12-17.5 degrees C. At time of our walk, just after 4 p.m. it was 16 degrees and falling, though sunny, pleasant with scattered cumulus. Wind W/NW 5-9kt, humidity 75% and rising.

Yesterday: much cooler. I wanted to watch, or rather listen, for European robins on valley road but no luck and the drizzle became heavier though not too uncomfortable. There was no flow at the bridge by the pumping station yet but we could see a cascade up the hill to the west so knew it was only a matter of time unless the flow had a new route. It took some minutes but finally it arrived, cascading down the rocks to join up with the main watercourse from the south. The water did not look so healthy though, it was stained almost black and had quite a bit of foam, no doubt carrying residues from the road up the hill and various domestic effluent.. one wonders if this affects the health of the eucalyptus and what it will do to Wadi Qelt in the long term.

To our surprise we met a white duck waddling along valley road toward the pumping station.. no doubt an escape hearing the call of the wet wild.. and risking foxes and feral dogs. No robins though.

Today we were luckier. I noticed honeysuckle in bloom which I thought a good enough excuse to use a shot I took a few years ago. Good food for the sunbirds! Husband had heard a Tristram's Grackle earlier from down in north valley and wanted to head up that way a little.

We heard a grunting barking mammalian sort of noise up to the north and examined the hillside. We did find a male gazelle following a female, followed some paces behind by two more females and then a youngster.. all heading east along a hillside trail. Could the grunting have come from the male? It did seem farther to the north and east when we heard it and the procession farther back west at the time... I was hoping to see males in combat up there but no luck, perhaps out of sight up over the ridge. We need to try again .. this is the season.

Heard some cooing feral pigeons up in the buildings while coiling a length of rusty old eruv wire.. wanted to get it out of the way because acts as a nasty tripwire on that hillside. Kestrel up there in the buildings too, calls and wheeled around a couple of times. Plenty Eurasian jays about and great tit calls. Down in the acacias and eucalyptus in the north water course we watched a foraging chiffchaff Philloscopus collybita for some time, up and down a rather bare tree but busy as anything, flitting about. This leaf warbler is a common winterer here. for photo and description. Also redstart calls from the vicinity but in dense pine foliage they're hard to find.

Some Dianthus still in bloom along the route and the ragwort as enthusiastic as ever. Some spitting cucumber still in bloom.

Then finally I heard what I'd been listening for, way up on the north facing slopes where some shorter trees grew between the pines and cypresses, the sharp ticking characteristic of the European robin Erithacus rubecula. From the directions, sounded like two birds ticking at each other up there, already establishing winter territories (as both males and females of this species will do) Of course I won't be entirely happy until I get a good sighting or hear one sing- which they will do to hold their piece of land.

Needless to say, house sparrows gathering in their roost next door and in the palms at the corner of Elias, and also a laughing dove heard cooing very briefly at dawn today. White wagtails heard. Hooded crows winging home south towards sunset. Blackbirds.

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