Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chukars, gazelles and late bats

Another gorgeous image from Ruthie Schueler.. this time the chukar partridge, Alectoris chukar, the most abundant 'gamebird' in the valley. Their fussy sounding 'chuk chuk chuk' is a fairly common sound on our walks and we're almost guaranteed to at least hear them in north valley.

Temps today 16 -22 degrees C. 21 dropping to 20 during the course of our walk. winds very light and south easterly, as we could see from patchy high cumulus drifting over the face of the moon, though barely inconveniently for us, it was probably slowing down the returning crows a bit.

Today we walked to the quarry, reaching the place around sunset. (5 p.m. ) We weren't much bothered by the time since the moon was almost full and its light replaced the fast fading daylight adequately to mark our trail, and the whiteness of the limestone helps a lot!

The quarry itself was its usual desolate surreal self, sans Tristram's grackle, not a feather or a whistle was noticed today. Either they were already roosting and unwilling to respond to my whistles (as they always had pretty reliably) or they had already moved on. Plenty ragwort getting up my nose and clumps of tree tobacco, the odd call of graceful warbler and hyrax but no grackles.

Gazelles: 7 at least. First we saw a group of six, mainly young ones.. some immature males based on the horns, making their way west along the south facing slope middle of north valley, just below the pine copse on the hillside there. At some point a couple at least changed their minds and started heading back east. Abruptly an adult buck emerged from cover and started chasing one up the hillside to the east. They ran to and fro for a couple of minutes, then the buck returned to the pine copse.
hyrax: barks and alarm screams heard around the quarry

bats: at least three seen along the trail on the way back, between 5 and 5.30 p.m. (dusk) this late in the year! 11 November. Well it certainly is a mild evening and there are moths about.

House sparrows
:gardens as usual. Hooded crows: flying slowly home to roost in a very loose flock from hill foraging grounds north.
Eurasian Jays: plenty calls and individuals between trees

: two small coveys near the quarry, startled me as much as I startled them! First broke out from a gully leading down the to valley on approach to the quarry, other was up on the hillside on the north facing slope. Each only about six individuals.. smaller broods this year, (because of the fires?) or just predator attrition?
Stone curlews: Heard briefly from over towards bat cave and perhaps glimpsed.
Sunbirds: One broke into frenetic song at about 1 p.m. just outside my window today.. they do make me think of a robin on too much caffeine. couldn't see him, he was hidden by the leaves.
Graceful warblers:calls in the quarry area.
Blackbirds, beautiful song in the pines by the trail on our return walk, at about 5.05 p.m. already dusk.
Falcons.. a couple about, over north valley and to the buildings, common kestrels probably
Small insectivorous bird working in upper canopy of an acacia. Didn't see much detail but best guess from that view is chiffchaff.

Syrian woodpeckers, Bulbuls,
Great tits, jackdaws, wagtails, doves, greenfinches all quiet today:

addendum: Little owl Athene noctua seen same evening, 10.35 p.m. perched on top of an 6 m pole by the north part of valley road. Heard it call 'kuw!' a few times.. then flew off down into north valley. Husband later heard it call from the house.

Today (wednesday) wind had turned, rain much of the day, cumulus from the west.

No comments: