Sunday, October 11, 2009

Miscellaneous notes

Tough blades of new grass are emerging in many patches all over gazelle field, awakened by the recent fall rains.

Feather found near the large cistern pine. From it's colouring I'd guess it belonged to a stone curlew though it could be from many other birds. 14 cm.

Tree growing in the old water channel draining west east behind the cistern. Some kind of acacia?

Sunday: Birds relatively quiet today. Hooded crows and jackdaws as usual, house sparrows in the gardens but most places quiet. Gazelle hoofprints in the thick dust on central trail.

Monday: Hooded crows and jackdaws, flock of latter at least 90 birds heading from Hizmeh to windsurfer hill about sunset.

Adult male gazelle in east field, just south of olive grove, near fence. A little later we saw mother and quite well grown young in that field farther down, just north of olive grove. They headed for pine grove, youngster ahead, mother sproinged to join it.

Hyrax activity down by valley road, adults out on rocks.

Heard Tristram's starling whistles up hillslope west of pumphouse.. looked, pair on the lines, male and female near top of slope. Watched male take off and hawk something from the air and land back down, rather ungainly move for a bird of its size but tried repeatedly, female also tried. Farther down slope closer to road a pair of white spectacled bulbuls at top of a cypress and very small bird also taking off and hawking, couldn't make out what at first but then bill in silhouette gave it away.. it was a sunbird! Never saw one hawking before. Then one of the bulbuls did it. What is airborne? Flying ants possible, we've seen some around lately. Would be from numerous colonies since several hundred feet between the starlings and the cypress.

House sparrows in gardens, feral pigeons on buildings. Don't recall hearing a laughing dove lately but crickets still chirping at night.

Tuesday: Female and young heading down from east pine grove between fence and watercourse on east side of gazelle field. Possibly same female and young we saw north/lower end of east field yesterday. Fresh scat by the watercourse, west side.

Still lots of grasshoppers, though more browner ones with broader markings, as opposed to the greyer, paler ones earlier in the season. One with definite red wings. Those yellow thistles are pretty much over now and gone to seed. Orange marked butterfly seen recently in north gazelle field, painted lady? Just a glimpse

A leaflet published recently about this area claims wild boar are found here but we have seen no trace of them at all, no hoof marks, no sightings. Possibly any incursions of them or jackals were prevented by the building of the fence.

Bat at dusk

Wednesday: House sparrows, feral pigeons about the building, the former gathering in the tops of some nearby date palms, noisy pre roost chatter. A white butterfly noticed as we went down long path to north valley dirt road, but didn't settle long enough to I.D. First I've seen in a while. Also noticed honey bee sipping from Inula flowers, various small pale brown moths and more grasshoppers. The other day we saw geometrid moth on central trail, ash grey with dark spots front of forewing, unfortunately flitted off out of sight before we could get a shot.

At least three bats fluttering over us at dusk at crossroads central trail, coursed up and down and around, tending to fly over the trails. Already looking out for black redstarts, stonechats etc, never know when the first will arrive but none yet. Blackbird heard, also great tit, Eurasian jay, jackdaws, hooded crows (both crows heading to roost) , Syrian woodpecker.

No hobbies, does look they've finally gone, and perhaps the reason why the vocalizations of the stone curlews are picking up again lately, they were very quiet over the time the hobbies were most vocal, I think they were intimidated by them.

Today's range 18-28 degrees C. (64.5-82.5 degrees F), humidity: 30% late morning, 67% peak early evening, then falling again. Wind, WNW in the morning swinging to NE middle of the day then back to NW for the rest of the day.

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