Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The partridge convention U.F.O. experience

The small grove of olives near the fence and road where we saw an adult male gazelle today. The larger trees in the back/middle are something else but most are olives. The security fences are barely visible behind it, just in front of the road, the lights above illuminate the Ramallah bypass road and up above that is part of the town of Hizmeh. Click on pic for larger view.

Monday's range: 10 to just over 15 degrees C, just after 4 p.m. 12.9 degrees, 81% humidity, Westerly winds, very light.
Tuesday' range: 9-14 degrees C, ~4.15 p.m. : 12.8 degrees, 50% humidity, NNW almost still

Gazelles: 7. Today we saw six gazelle running down east field, down from windsurfer hill toward the small olive grove, seemed to be in two groups of three each, loosely associated, females and well grown young. When I viewed one of the groups by the olives there was an adult male that must have been amongst the olives before and came out to 'greet' them as they arrived. Gazelle greetings seem very low profile affairs, there could be grunts we can't hear but generally they seem to content to merely come in view/scent range of each other and acknowledge just by merely looking unless a male actually wants to sniff a tail and follow.. not the case today. They continued down towards north field. When we arrived in the cistern area we saw two in gazelle field heading into the north valley pines which could have been the first amongst those six to arrive.
hyrax: Several active about the cypress slum area today.
dogs: feral dogs barking down near the fence to the east last night.

White wagtail
: Heard over buildings both days
European robin: heard typical tick tick calls up slope yesterday in north valley but in deep scrub, no sightings.

House sparrows:round buildings as usual.
laughing doves: 3 perched up on top of a street light by our road, just outside our house.
Hooded crows: over near quarry yesterday, group 50+ milling about above before going to roost, Today group 20+ around top of windsurfer hill.
Jackdaws: heard over to east today
Eurasian Jays: lots of calls heard in middle of east valley today
Feral pigeons: flock aloft today above buildings just up a level from our street,
Greenfinches: today and yesterday in pines? not good glimpses. Chaffinches today though, 'pink' calls and glimpses esp. about middle of east valley.
Blackbirds: chak chakking in pines about dusk as usual.
Common kestrel heard up by some tall buildings just south of north valley.

Chukars: Neatest experience today was coming back along valley road just as dark was falling, past an open patch which had burned last late spring, suddenly there was a dramatic whirring sound like a small helicopter and a nice size flock of at least 20 chukar partridges erupted from the ground right by us and took off low over the trees towards the north east. I could imagine how U.F.O. enthusiasts would have interpreted the event... 'it hovered above the ground right by us for just a moment with a peculiar swirl of alien engines, then headed over the trees away from us at an astonishing speed... phenomenal acceleration of such a large body, at least 30 feet across, that was clearly partially cloaked in some kind of camouflage shield!'
Partridge family convention... Does make me wonder how many natural events have been misinterpreted.

This morning husband heard whistles of Tristram's grackle/starling somewhere to the east. A while since we've heard those and notable that they're still around in winter as they tend to be mostly nomadic around the country in spring. Well, since that family bred in the quarry in spring and we hear them now we might be able to say a few are resident unless different individuals come and go.

One last observation forgot to mention before- yellow flowers in the bed of the water course, which I first took for some late Inula turned out to be the earliest savyon, Senecio vernalis! I did not realize their season began in December (it does, I checked my book) but this is the first of the 'spring' flowers.

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