Monday, December 14, 2009

More fox, week's review, area development

Monday 14 Dec:
Fox seen again.. he was up the slope to west of pumping station (near hyrax colony there). Some boys with a dog way up the slope spooked it and it headed down the slope towards us, passed between ourselves and station and continued on down into the sapling field. We noticed he paused briefly at two shrubs, one of them fresh asphodel blades, cocked back leg to mark, and this time I made a point of looking and confirming he was indeed male. He continued down the longways central trail from the sapling field to the ruin. Checked east and north fields, no sign of gazelle today. Hyrax? *

Female chaffinch noticed on top of cypress in east valley, Tristram's starling heard whistling, two flew from hyrax colony area intto a partly built large building (will be a synagogue). Perhaps they hope to nest there in the spring, suits them like the ruin by the quarry. Graceful warblers foraging in low vegetation on the bank, young male black redstart perched on a rebar and flicking characteristically. Husband noticed another bird with orangish breast, darkish head, from that I'd say already stonechat. Great tits heard scolding, blackbird chak call at dusk.

Flock of over 50 feral pigeons on rooftops near house, sunbird singing in Bauhinia mid afternoon.

Tuesday 15th Dec. Temps down today, definite chill in the air. 9.7 -15.3 degrees C today (~49.5-59.5 degrees F) , two sweaters and jacket weather

Gazelle.. group spotted from valley road ascending northern slopes of windsurfer hill.. five altogether, four females and well grown young in front, adult buck following a few metres to the rear.

Great tit scolds, Syrian woodpecker call, Eurasian jay calls.. haven't heard latter two for a bit- jackdaw calls, Stone curlew call from east field as the stars were coming out.

Wednesday 15th Dec: Felt warmer than yesterday, cloud cover and very light mist over much of windsurfer hill. We had just mounted the shepherd's path to a point that commanded a view of all the northern slopes of windsurfer hill when Akiva noticed what looked like our fox moving by the tree line a little to our north west. Fourth day in a row! Looking down towards the fence we noticed two gazelle, looked like mother and well grown young between the olive grove and the east pine grove.

Birds included: blackbirds, jackdaws, hooded crows, laughing dove (1 flew across valley road into pines). Hoodie on top of tree indicated that they may already be starting to stake out breeding sites.

Sunday morning 21 Dec. early: garden, squeaks of sunbirds, blackbird soft chak chak, calls of jackdaw and hooded crows farther off, white spectacled bulbul and later, laughing doves.

We did not get down to the valley thursday or friday but were down there Saturday. In the woods lately, great tit scolds more frequent, collared doves occasionally seen but quiet this time of year, Syrian woodpeckers about, graceful warblers quite active and the occasional Eurasian sparrowhawk spotted, flying swiftly between groups of trees. Haven't seen black redstart for a while but again, we could be there a little too late, we need to catch him earlier in the afternoon when insect hunting is better - and after Shabbat and Chanukah may not be disturbed so much by people.. though the recent work on the field might also keep him away. Perhaps he moved to other side of eucalyptus grove.

No gazelles noticed yesterday but today 2, mother and quite well grown young down near north watercourse in the open, moved on towards bat cave.

Magnificent cloud scape today, no one picture would do it justice. The entire dome of the sky was traced with a delicate and ever changing pattern of high altitude dappled cumulus/stratus/cirrus variations.

What are they doing to gazelle field between cistern and central trail? Bulldozer has turned over all the soil now. Do they plan to seed it with lawn grass for picnics? I hope much of the Malcolmia and other flowers of that area survive. We shall see.

Monday 21st December, winter solstice!

Akiva spoke with a man from the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet) who was down near the bunker rubble with his work crew. They do indeed plan to plant trees over much of gazelle field as well as part of the owl glade and a bare part of the pistacio grove. They have already disposed of the prunings and were applying a liquid to the cut branches to prevent insect infestation. While they were down there the man spotted a gazelle over on the south, more open side of the Pistacio grove.

In the sapling field I noticed the first bright yellow Savyon! Senecio vernalis , also known as spring groundsel. Its smaller flowered relative, the diminutive but vividly orange dandelion type was also already blooming as well as a delicate petalled tiny purple flower with ground hugging leaves. Its hard to find an intact flower of one of those purple jobs, they seem to shed petals at the drop of a hat. Polygonum is also still in bloom as well as the low broom type by the wayside.

Graceful warblers were active and vocal today around gazelle field, Jackdaws and hooded crows heard many times, feral pigeons about, husband heard a Tristram's starling somewhere over east, great tits were busy scolding and sunbirds, house sparrows and laughing doves in the garden. White wagtails heard

It's now about 6.10 a.m Tuesday , and I hear a sunbird alarm call from the gardens somewhere not far off. Hoodies and jackdaws also heard.

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