Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Chaffinches are back!

Kestrels love to use Jerusalem's taller buildings for nesting. They tend to favour those at least six storeys tall but on such buildings I've seen them as low down as the second storey as long as the room behind the nest is hardly used. Pic. captured by Nathan Slifkin. Click on it for full page zoom.

Saturday and Sunday

Today, sunday, was the first day in the season I actually wanted to wear a sweater, though too warm for a jacket yet. Range 15-20 degrees C, temp during our walk, (4.30 p.m.) ~17.5 degrees C, humidity ~80%, wind 5.5 to 8+ W/NW.

First chaffinches Fringilla coelebs of the season (!) noticed on top of cypresses just down from valley road. It was a small flock, spread over that part of the forest.

Yesterday we got our first good sightings of stonechats, Saxicola rubicola, up on a trail leading from the cistern up between the scrub towards the Fence. A male was standing actually on the ground in the middle of the trail while a much drabber bird, (his mate?) foraged nearby. After a short time they both took off and hid in the scrub. Today we didn't hear them at all.

We still have not managed to see any black redstarts at the bunker rubble even with careful long distance approach but we might just have been a touch late as we noticed from last season the bird tends to take the to trees about sunset when foraging 'day' is done. Today we did hear repeated alarm whistles in the eucalyptus orchards again.

Yesterday husband spotted a gazelle run out of the north valley pines to the back of the acacia and almonds. I saw it for a short while right behind the foot of the pylon but after that it disappeared, we believe it took to a water channel out of view. (those old fields have a couple of water channels walled with the local stone on each side and 3-4 feet deep, gazelles can dip out of view in them easily) . Today I looked for feral puppies to photograph for dj but no luck yet.

Husband saw a falcon chasing a feral pigeon in Mattersdorf this morning, way over on the west side of town. From the banding of the table seemed to be a common kestrel Falco tinnunculus rather than my hope, a Peregrine! I was amazed a kestrel would take on a pigeon though. The rest of the flock scattered in alarm.

In our street feral pigeons in evidence, white spectacled bulbuls calling in gardens, laughing doves keeping out of sight but house sparrows obvious as usual. Sunbird calls and also one heard by the valley watercourse between the pumping station and sapling field.

Both days heard and glimpsed Syrian woodpeckers and Eurasian Jays as usual, and blackbirds and great tits also calling.

On reflection it seems fewer birds in the woods this summer on the whole. I wonder if greenfinch populations damaged by the fires? Great spotted Cuckoo success not noted this year but that was just luck, it's possible they found hosts in other parts of the woods. We also did not spot good size families of chukars this year but they would certainly have been affected by the fires, as evidenced for example by the eggs we found after the May fire. Woodpeckers, hoopoes and jays did as well as usual though it seems. We didn't see or even hear great tit fledgelings this year either but that could have just been the luck of our small window.

I may have posted this one last season but worth it again as they are such charmers! Male chaffinch, taken by Ruthie Schueler.

No comments: