Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mismatched sparring partners

This pic shows how hard it can be to pick gazelle out in the landscape especially if they're standing still, and these were relatively close! One individual ringed on the left. A close packed group on the right in the ellipse. How many can you make out in the group? Look how much the white underbelly and tail blends into the limestone. The focus isn't good but when they're farther back on the hillside this is about the level of info you get. Helps when they move!

~12-17 degrees C today, time of our walk ~ 14 falling to ~13, humidity 85% rising to 90%, wind 8-14. W, WSW Plenty cumulus drifting in from the west, some rain on and off, thunder in the morning.

Marked rise in general bird activity today compared to yesterday.

Gazelles: At least 9
gazelles in the gazelle field today shortly before sunset, strung out by the far dry stone wall, but moving to and fro- with their clever patterning, you blink, you lose count and have to start systematically over again.
Soon saw two in lively
head butting action and soon saw one was adult male and the other was a young male with horns less than half the size of the other! My first thought was, ' aww, pick on a boy your own size!' till I continued watching and saw what was really happening. A minute or so later a young male trotted after the adult male and somehow nudged it into a fresh interaction. The young male was initiating the sparring! Its instincts urged it to headbut and he naturally sought a worthy opponent, lessons from the master! The adult was happy to oblige for a few seconds. The interaction was very brief.. it does make me wonder if the young males incur any damage from these risky encounters and if the adult keeps it deliberately toned down compared to a more serious rutting battle. There was a distinct group of four, the adult and three others in the group, and at least three of them were sparring with each other. After a while they reverted to grazing and several made their way back west to the shelter of the pines.

hyrax: one on a dirt mound by valley road, at the head of a trail down to north valley, shaggy tan job on sentry duty
feral dogs: barks, across east valley from the pumping station, low on hoodie hill.

white wagtails:
out on/over the street, could hear from the house. Also passing over the orchard to the south later in small flocks and calling, no doubt on their way back to roosts in town.
a few seen on tops of cypresses just down from valley road.
House sparrows
: chirruping in their roost next door as usual. Were calling after bedtime again last night but we didn't find any owls.
Hooded crows: some up on hoodie (windsurfer) hill, loose flock of 14 returning south from forage ~ 4.30 p.m.
Jackdaws: flock of at least 100 up on south west slopes of hoodie hill
Eurasian Jays: here and there about the pinewoods as usual. Some calls.
Feral pigeons: in flight between buildings as usual.
Blackbirds: 1 in song (and plain view from this chair ) in Bauhinia tree outside window mid afternoon, + 'chak's and 'tzeet' . alarm calls in pines as usual after sunset
Sunbirds: 1 in song in Bauhinia at ~ 1.15 p.m and again mid afternoon, 'accompanying' the blackbird
white spectacled Bulbuls: a few musical calls, some harsh chak calls in the garden mid afternoon.
Hoopoe, flew from cistern area to eucalyptus behind 'look out corner'
Other insect eating birds about, redstarts, warblers and such judging by all the calls I was hearing , but keeping out of sight in pines and other foliage.

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