Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sunbird back, hyraxes, Cap'n Jack.

Friday: For the first time in a couple of weeks heard a sunbird (Nectarinia osea) in the Bauhinia outside my window, making simple calls and foraging. Later, towards dusk heard a blackbird nearby in song. Put my head to the window to listen to him and noticed a dove silhouetted nearby in the Bauhinia, pecking at the leaves and/or branches. Probably a laughing dove. Graceful warbler heard earlier. That's three insect eating birds in action.
Dove wings also heard from the garden today.

Today, Saturday, went down to the valley shortly after 4 p.m. Plenty hyrax activity by valley road, both sides, nibbling at cypress and foraging on the bank. At one point I was looking down at about ten of them, all fully grown, on the rocks maybe fifteen feet away, all looking up at me. A hyrax somewhere off more than 20 feet away under a cypress close by the road chirped 'seek!' and every one of them immediately popped down under the rocks into their dens. It's as if it said 'don't trust them!'/'get under cover!' .
Not long before we heard a different alarm call.. a higher pitched 'tsrrrk!' from up the bank somewhere which apparently means, "run for it! scatter!" because that got them all running above ground in every direction. A lot also depends on whether they're foraging near their dens or some distance away.

One of the first things we noticed was the harrying of a Eurasian sparrowhawk, part of the ongoing feud between raptors and crows in the area. The crows apparently think they own the entire air space over Mir Forest and surrounding hillsides. Two hooded crows were persistently dive bombing a sparrowhawk, all flying quite high above canopy level about 100 ft, or at least trying to dive bomb it. The hawk evaded them quite easily with a neat flick of the wrist so to speak.. it would dodge them by dropping altitude just a little and to the side with very little energy expenditure, and continue on its way. The hawk's manoevrability was clearly superior and it knew it. They can think of it as the day they *almost* caught Captain Jack Sparrow!

Chiffchaffs and black redstarts heard in the pines. Nice stone curlew call from over towards the bat cave at about 5.15 p.m. already getting dark, as the full moon rose over Adam.
Where are the white wagtails? Perhaps they moved more in towards the city centre where it's warmer. Jackdaw flock heard calling towards the east.

Grass and various dicots growing quite lushly in the stream bed, lots of small low stuff cropping up on the ground in the pistaccio orchard. Must check over the charred area in east from last May. Still looks blackish brown there. The gazelle field appears to be recovering faster, has far more and developed shoots perhaps because the ground is less hard packed and better irrigated.
Some work seems to have been done in the sapling field. Plastic tubes of a number of trees which didn't make it are on the ground and a number which are doing quite well, plastic tubes removed.

Temp range: ~7.25-14 degrees C. ~12 degrees at time of walk and ~60% humidity. Wind light easterlies much of daylight hours switching back to westerlies at dusk, as they were last night.

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