Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weekend Notes, more Gan Sacher pics

September sunset at Gazelle Field- now you can see how most of the grass has changed, but at least most not burned this year!

Below, the Medicinal Squill at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory. Last entry I showed you the florets of the lower part of the spike. Here's the whole spike, well over a foot long.

A mimosa (?) growing near the Jerusalem Bird Observatory. Wicked spines protect the delicate leaves. Below, one of the local oaks producing acorns in Sacher Park. Compare the leaf margins of the oaks to those of temperate zones. Other oaks in the region have leaf margins similar to those of holly. Not 100% certain but this may be Quercus ithaburensis, Mount Tabor Oak.

A less savoury subject.. these may look like spilled dates but no, they were made by passing Indian porcupine. Found in the old graveyard close to the Jerusalem bird observatory.

Thursday: Gazelle: Adult male wandering under the pines just beyond the owl glade, a little north of the central trail. Four females/well grown young grazing in the lowest part of gazelle field, near where the watercourse runs out of the area.

Hyraxes: Plenty seen today of varying ages in the cypress slum area esp. just down from the road on the forest side, some up in the cypress trees nibbling away.

Husband saw about a dozen bee-eaters early this morning near the pumping station, on a wire above the hyrax colony there, pretty much in the same region migrating bee-eaters were seen last year. Gerda mentioned to us that our resident bee-eaters have left some weeks ago but there were many passing through Jerusalem midweek.. though we didn't hear any in our neighbourhood in the north that day. However those we heard from the house the previous friday also must have been passage migrants.

Sunbirds have been visiting the Bauhinia regularly in the last few days and singing in the early afternoon again. House sparrows chirping, laughing doves cooing, bulbuls heard on and off and a graceful warbler in our garden or nearby being very noisy a couple of days ago.

Baffling softbill on top of a cypress by valley road, near the pumping station. Was behaving like a flycatcher from that perch, flew up, caught insect, back down. Wheatear like in shape but sitting more upright, Very white, throat chest, darkish brown head, smooth grey brown back and wings, lighter brown edges on wing feathers, dark tail, no flashes of white or red, no striations. Redstart like but seemed a touch bigger.

Shrikes (or shrike like calls) heard around bunker rubble area but again not seen, several days in a row at just after sunset, several individuals, in the bunker pines, eucalyptus grove and north end of Pistacio grove.. so far eluded even Akiva's sharp eye. So many, usually we've been able to spot a masked shrike but not getting any confirmation on I.D. of these birds unfortunately, not giving us a glimpse. Light fading fast at that time doesn't help.

Watching out for return of black redstarts and stonechat but no definites yet, nor calls or sightings of wagtails at all.

Hobbies still about, (increase in hobby sightings lately may not be due to local breeding but passage migrants) Akiva saw kestrel this morning, jackdaws calling, hoodies about, a bit quieter than usual. Collared dove pair by valley road. Syrian woodpecker calls, Eurasian Jay calls. Blackbird chak chak at dusk.

Today's weather: 19-29 degrees C, (66.2-84.2 degrees F) ,humidity fluctuating more than usual today and 10-~62%, low compared with past days. winds WNW /SW/NW/N . Surprising readings.

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