Sunday, July 26, 2009

Prince goes free, and other miscellanea

You've seen pics of Prince : here's one of Ruthie Schueler's pics of our local jay in its natural habitat and tip top plumage. (Middle Eastern race of Eurasian jay, Garrulus glandarius atricapillus

Below, the yellow flower we found blooming by north valley dirt road- here the entire flower spike to show the form of the flowering plant, spent flowers, blooming flowers and buds.

Gazelle: Today, Sunday (4) As we reached the shaft (best look out position on north valley dirt road towards bat cave) , saw a female and young grazing on the hillside just up from the bat cave. We walked along the service road through the pine grove just east of there and emerged in the open north valley watercourse area, crossing the course. From there we saw a well grown young up on the skyline to the north-eastish and then an adult buck a few dozen metres farther to the west and on our side of the hill just below the skyline. Shortly after the female and young appeared farther up the hill ahead of us.

Hyrax: some sightings in the past few days at various colonies.

! First we've seen for a while, on our walk yesterday evening ~10.30 p.m. on valley road. It didn't roll into a ball but just stood still facing the nearest road edge, waiting, trembling very slightly. We walked on and on our return heard it trundling its way up the bank through the ground vegetation.

Bee-eaters: not around since late last week.. perhaps off hawking different fields for a change. There were similar mysterious and unpredictable absences last year.
Hobbies: call heard from tops of trees along the road south eastward just as we released the jay. I wondered if one had seen him and was considering him as prey though he's rather large for a hobby to take on.

Eurasian jays: We released Prince near the shaft and he hopped off with no fear, hesitation nor backward glance. (we actually do not know if 'he' was male or female, I use 'he' by default) He blundered through a patch of green Eryngium and then a few metres away he made a two note harsh call, a typical contact call that he had not made once while living in our salon. He then continued towards an acacia by the north watercourse and hopped/fluttered up into one of the lowest branches. Soon after that he returned to the ground. Shortly after he vocalized we noticed another jay that had been foraging on the rocks across the watercourse. We didn't see any definite interaction between the two jays, the jay already there did not attack and may have just been curious.
A few other jays noticed elsewhere around the woods.

Blackbirds: very low profile lately, hardly a peep.
Chukar partridges: some calls heard lately, north of central trail
Collared doves: Active and vocal many parts of the woods especially the lowest altitude sections around gazelle field.

Feral pigeons: some about, in flight.
Graceful warblers: some calls around gazelle field and valley road.
Great tits: Greenfinches: relatively quiet in the last few days.
Jackdaws: Flock of about 50 returning from the north towards windsurfer hill or east of there not long before sunset, unusually quiet today, only one individual heard once.
Hooded crows: loose flock of 20 or so returning from forage in the north, flight path more to west than jackdaws.
House sparrows:about houses as usual.
Laughing doves: cooing in the morning around the buildings from about 5.30/5.45 am
Stone curlews: Also very quiet lately.
Sunbirds: Active from ~5.30 a.m. squeak calls and others many times today and last few days around the Bauhinia.
Syrian woodpeckers: many short calls heard. White spectacled Bulbuls: Vocal from ~5.20 am last few days, melodious calls in the Bauhinia.

Butterflies.. blues and Satyrids recently but today around the almond line and dry wall there, a few more brightly coloured but they would not stop long enough for an I.D. The brief glimpse I got strongly suggested lesser tortoiseshell or painted lady but unfortunately could not get closer, they were hardly settling at all and of course put wings together when they do, hiding most distinctive colouration and I was unable to get a good look at the underwing.

Today's range: 21.5- 30.5 degrees C (70.7- 86.9 degrees F)
time of walk: approaching 7 p.m. 27 degrees C (80.6 degrees F)
Humidity: 45%, W, 6-9.5 knots.

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