Saturday, November 14, 2009

week of the new moon

Saturday Nov 14: hyraxes.. 1 up a cypress near the top, Shabbat so no camera but would have been great pic. He carefully started to spiral down on thin branches around the trunk.

: Behind cistern, near the large pine.. strolled along top of a dry stone wall then went into vegetation, pouncing motions.. from the way he looked in our direction seemed he was aware of us but not bothered. Not one of dark patchy foxes, intermediate.. face greyish, paling at the muzzle, flanks grey with hints of russet, dirty white tip to long bushy tale.

At same time we were watching the fox a group of gazelle passed behind, females and well grown young, across the watercourse and into the lowest far east field. Seemed they'd made their way from behind the pine grove from east field. At least four individuals but could have been more, light was fading, shortly after sunset. Adult buck was grazing by an almond a little farther to the west.

White spectacled bulbul outside the window about 5.45 a.m. again followed soon after by house sparrow chirps. On our walk Jackdaws and hooded crows seen and heard, returning from forage to roost, great tits calls, calls of graceful warblers, white wagtails passing over. Some stonechat calls around the cistern but we were too late for the black redstart. Blackbirds heard just after dusk chakking away by central trail.

I looked out for autumn grape hyacinth in other locations (specifically woods trail just north of the sapling field) but did not find yet though crocuses and autumn squill were blooming. As for the saplings, they are not doing very well. One Ailanthus thriving but most are having hard time since surrounded by thistles have not received much in the way of nutrients and are struggling though hopefully will pick up after the rainy season, this is after all a trough in the year for the Pistacios. The new season of milk thistles is already beginning.. their seed leaves are up and the second pair of small but typical milk thistle leaf is now visible esp by the trail to the saplings.

Temps today: 11.25 to just over 17 degrees C ( ~52.25- 62.75)

Sunday Nov 15: First bird I heard in the morning in the pre-dawn dark was the incessant squeak alarm of a sunbird coming from somewhere across the garden.. I'd guess the cape honeysuckle. There's a family of cats around there that probably got it in that state. In the afternoon as we left for our walk we heard a variety of sunbird calls from the honeysuckle, which is now in bloom again, brilliant orange in its upper reaches. Soft laughing dove coos later.

Gazelle luck again.. 3 today.. across north valley watercourse we saw a buck graze and two others, one had bent right thin horn so may be the same two we saw on the trail a few days ago and by the large almond before that.

Ticking like that of European robin on each side of the trail, one coming from the pines, one from the acacias by the watercourse but birds themselves not sighted, they are being very elusive. If they are going to be territorial, please sing!

Crows returning to roost, jackdaw calls, Eurasian jays about and calls.

Monday Nov 16: sunbird actually in SONG in the Bauhinia outside my window today mid afternoon though not sustained for long. Two Raptors flying between trees in north valley, husband saw them better, may be Eurasian sparrowhawks but just a glimpse.
Hooded crows, jackdaws, Eurasian jays heard and seen about. White wagtails heard, as were graceful warblers and blackbirds chak chak about the woods.

Tuesday Nov 17: sunbird heard again since dawn. Blackbird heard in garden or nearby garden in song for a short while. Tristram's starling whistles heard as we set out, then two noticed flying from neighbourhood toward Hizmeh.

Wednesday Nov 18: sunbird again singing in the Bauhinia mid afternoon, soft laughing dove coos. Eurasian sparrowhawk over gazelle field. Much mole rat activity lately.

Thursday Nov 19: sunbird heard not long before dawn thursday and friday morning squeak alarm.

Fox seen on east valley dirt road just across the bridge. Took off up the slope under the trees on the other side till out of view.

Two Tristram's starlings calling and circling over our street and valley road- for a short while apparently chased/mobbed by a pair of feral pigeons. It seemed that the pigeons didn't welcome the starlings on 'their' rooftops. Husband has seen the pair around a few times lately and perched up on rooftop of building with the date palm roost. Perhaps this is why they circled so many times, the pigeons did not want to let them settle?

Syrian woodpecker call and flew over east valley, much graceful warbler vocalization today, brief collared dove coo? (Laughing doves heard cooing in the garden earlier), ticking in the acacia on our way down from buildings to valley road, sounded like European robin but was being very furtive, did not see. Stonechats heard around the cistern towards dusk.

Second crocus species found by shepherd's trail, whitish with fine dark purple veining outer base of petals, a little larger than the pinks. Crocus hyemalis? (winter crocus) Most likely. I think the purple ones we see are Colchicum hieroscolymitanum (Jerusalem Autumn crocus). I think this is also the pale crocus we photographed in gazelle field last year. Will post pic soon along with a few others of today.. probably this coming saturday night.

Ant activity: Busy nest at the edge of the north valley dirt road, brown dirt spread in a ray at least a foot around the entrance holes. Beyond that you can just make out a wider area of influence, several square metres tinged green in contrast with the grey/brown of the dirt road.
Lean back and relax your eyes to see this green 'aura' better.

Area of activity: ants at work busy carting their loads about from several entrance holes.

Green tinge explained: ant housecleaning, unwanted seeds including clover, deposited beyond the brown zone are germinating all over the path, little seed leaves all over. The ants are aiding seed dispersal and the growth of their food plants.

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