Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Owl

Owl, eyes reflecting the flash, though he was not phased by that at all.

The most delightful sighting was a beautiful owl which husband noticed on an electric cable strung across the street right outside our front garden (probably linked to a generator in a nearby building)

I'd noticed the sparrows had been chirping rather nervously to each other in rather low tones in the trees outside way after 'bedtime' and wondered what was keeping them up. We first noticed him shortly after ten when we went out and I couldn't resist pointing him out to some passing neighbours, a mother with her baby in a pram and some teenage boys playing football in the street, 'yanshuf!' I said, and pointed, and instantly the owl had an admiring audience. He was not phased by all the attention at all, and simply sat there right over the middle of our residential culdesac while husband took a few pics of him from various angles.

After a few minutes, though, he seemed to tire of the boys' whistling and flew in a silent arc, possibly into our neighbour's palm or nearby. His wing span was about a metre and quite impressive. However, when we came back from our walk in the valley he was back on the line and posed for a few more pics, and stayed there quite contentendly till after midnight and probably later, we'd gone inside.

From the pics we noticed his orange wing feathers, (lower left) face markings and 'ear' tufts and positively identified him as a long eared owl Asio otus. The tufts really have nothing to do with ears, they are mainly for display. This bird's tufts were quite clear and erect most of the time.

I'd long suspected the woods by us held long eared owls as it's perfect habitat for them, and we've been waiting a long time for a decent sighting. We never knew that sighting would come to us so conveniently! Though it may have gone for sparrows I suspect he was really looking out for rats that may come to the garbage skipper. Moshe saw a grey coloured rat along valley road a couple of days ago not far away, disappearing into one of the pipes, so we know they're about.

What else today? House sparrows in the trees as mentioned, blackbirds and white spectacled bulbuls around, high flying raptor earlier today soaring, very pale underparts, pretty much white, but couldn't make out much more at that distance, plenty jackdaws heard, hooded crows, white wagtail heard.
Over by the rubble no stonechats and too late to see black redstart though I believe we heard one in the trees, a musical call over in the field, wheatear or lark? Jays heard.
No sign of gazelle sadly but plenty hyrax active by valley road. Open holes by several mole rat mounds, looks as though several have been emerging lately though we didn't see any, no doubt they made for cover at vibrations of our feet if they were out recently.

today's range, 15-20.5 degrees C. wind direction mainly easterlies

Our other more exotic bird celebrity is a lovebird (Agapornis roseicollis x personata? seems to be a hybrid) which flew into a friend's front room, probably attracted by the calls of their cockatiel. He's perched on top of my open window, looking at me now. He did a 'houdini' from the cage we'd provided (as no doubt he did from his previous owners) so I put strategic seed and water about the room and let him do his own thing and get exercise. We have metal mosquito screening on the window bars which keeps him from total escape while I have fresh air.

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