Sunday, February 1, 2009

Gazelles and wild dogs

Female gazelle in the new pine grove (south east end of north valley). Asphodel leaves shooting up all around . An adult male had been following her until a minute or so before this pic.. he left the pines and waited for her near the water course just beyond. Perhaps she peers over her shoulder to get a glimpse of him?

Two feral dogs amongst the cypress across north valley. They had been taking in in turns to bark at us. Now the dark one is just having a sniff around, his characteristic feral dog spitz tail held aloft, while the other stares, his retinas even at that distance reflecting yellow at the flash even at that distance, between 200/300 feet.

Feb 1: Sunday:~4.30 p.m. temp. 9.5 degrees C, humidity 82%, wind westerly 9.6 knots.. (raining quite heavily last night with lightning and thunder). Today's range: ~5.5 -10.5 degrees C.

11 gazelle seen today. I first noticed two running in the young pine grove by the start of the north valley trail.. that turned out to be a female followed by an adult buck. Then husband noticed a group behind, running from west to east. He counted nine individuals. We watched as they slowed their pace, made their way towards the watercourse at the east edge of gazelle field where they stopped to graze and perhaps to sip any remaining pools of water along the way there. Then we noticed the two good size feral dogs across the valley .. possibly the cause of the gazelles running east.

Plenty hyrax active along valley road yesterday.

Active bird life.. today, male black redstart perched on a rebar at the northern edge of the bunker rubble. I read that males will often return to the same habitat each winter so it is possibly the same individual we have been seeing the last few years.. with some overlap as we saw more than one male last year there. Chaffinch at the top of a cypress by valley road. Husband saw large raptor on friday.. from description another long legged buzzard, Buteo rufinus, but a lighter morph.

Nice sightings of a pair of stone curlew on the ground today.

After seeing the gazelle we had headed down into the flat area just west of the new pine grove, between the north valley trail and the bat cave. This is open ground, just east of a stand of eucalyptus where the north valley watercourse begins to meet gazelle field. The stone curlew pair appeared between us and the north valley path, we watched them walk, then almost run up the bank, then take off north across the valley but silently. We were very close! They were probably relying on their camouflage for us not to notice them at all. Perhaps they plan to breed in that area as we know a pair did last year.

Syrian woodpeckers today and yesterday, seen and heard, Eurasian sparrowhawk glimpsed, jackdaws and hooded crows seen and heard. Blackbird song last few days, very nice great tit song yesterday on the bank right by the buildings as last year. Graceful warbler active in the cape honeysuckle but not sunbird. House sparrows, feral pigeon and laughing dove about, more cooing of the latter in the garden. Some greenfinch twitters in the pines.

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