Thursday, May 21, 2009

Late stork flight, flowers, bugs

White storks. Highlight of the day. Above, Ruthie Schueler's pic, not ours. The storks were too far for our camera to get a sharp shot. When you see the birds criss crossing like this they're soaring, rising on thermals of warm air. Today at about 6.50 p.m. we counted ~160 storks heading over the neighbourhood from roughly south west to north east. They were gliding on the headwind but as they passed Hizmeh they started to rise on a thermal like this. Quite a few kids in the area also noticed them and were oooing and aaahing at them. They knew they were 'hassidot, (Hebrew for 'stork') didn't need to be told that & were much impressed at the sight.

This is so late in the year! Last year we saw a flock like this on 1st April. Are they seriously hoping to get to northern breeding grounds on time? Are their schedules so messed up this year? That several week stop over of storks we had we'd never seen before.

These are a peculiarity of yesterday. I noticed the bush of yellow blooms above north of the north valley watercourse. In flower form and leaf they were exactly like the flowers I'd found in the north valley watercourse a week or so before (below) but were pretty much all uniformly yellow as above and had almost none of the gorgeous range of purples, lemons and rich oranges of the watercourse clump. Different soil conditions or all genetics?

The charming beetle below we found a little way up the hill north of the north valley watercourse. The antennae, general shape and legs look like those of beetles in family Silphidae (carrion, burying beetles- another one for the forensic entomologists)

This hairy short shrub appeared to be just past flower bearing stage and interested me because of the shiny greenish ant like insect I had not noticed before I zoomed in.

Gazelle: No luck today. Also looked for the fox family without success.
Hyrax: Lots, family groups either side of valley road shortly before 7. Plenty new hyrax kits about!
Feral dogs: Barking from east valley after dark
Bee-eaters, hobbies: none seen or heard
Black eared wheatears:distant calls.
common Swifts: seen in ones or twos, heard as it was getting dark, esp. heard just after dawn over the house, much screaming.
Turtle doves: cooing in various parts of the pine woods, cistern area
SWALLOW : passing over north valley low, didn't see others. They're not resident, always only passing through
Shrike scratchy call in the pistaccio/eucalyptus orchard just east of the rubble but didn't see it.
Blackbirds: song, visibly active many parts of the woods
Chukar partridges: not seen or heard
Collared doves: Much cooing, seen active, flight calls.
Eurasian Jays: Some about and active, not noisy.
Feral pigeons: on rooftops and aloft,coming and going.
Graceful warblers: calls by valley road as usual, active
Great tits: numerous calls various parts of the woods.
Greenfinches: some calls, twittering, various parts of pinewoods
Jackdaws: some calls and flying over east valley, and around, foraging
Hooded crows: congregating at mid east valley roost, much toktoktok, sounds like bill clatter, woodpecker
House sparrows:Around houses as usual, first chirp at ~4.20 a.m. quite regular these days.
Laughing doves: cooing around houses from dawn onwards. active
Stone curlews: calling esp. from east fields on and off since dusk.
Sunbirds: gardens probably, wasn't paying attention to them today
Syrian woodpeckers: Plenty calls in the woods today along east valley trail.
White spectacled Bulbuls: Many calls in the garden, musical and hoarser family calls.

Weather: 6.45 p.m. just over 22 degrees C, humidity ~57% and rising, wind WSW 4.3 knots. Today's range: 16.5-26 degrees C.

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