Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday 8th -Sunday 14th March:

Is this also pink butterfly orchid, a variant of the tall form, or another species? Two had this pyramidal form not far from those with a taller habit.

species of mallow larger than the common, its leaves below - found at the quarry. I may replace this at some point since I'm not happy about the focussing.

A harvestman type spider on clover.

Monday 8th March
Headed up to quarry today up the north watercourse dirt road. We saw 6 gazelle up on the south facing slope including an adult male and also one with many white patches on the back.. don't recall seeing any with those markings before. Great spotted cuckoo calls across the watercourse at the start of the trees, east end, half way up the slopes. Swifts calling and flying over the neighbourhood.

In the flat area under cypress by the watercourse many butterfly orchids, some green orchids and a quill of Indian porcupine, first we've seen in a while. We also noticed a narrow straight and distinct trail through the grasses and other vegetaton.. I wonder if porcupines made this.

At the quarry, graceful warblers, hyraxes on rocks by the north side of the watercourse just before the quarry, one giving the complex bark, quite loud and carrying. Chukar partridges on the flat area of rocks farther along on the other side, amusing watching their walk-hop on the boulders.

Tuesday 9th March
morning: House sparrows up early but at 5.20 a.m. could clearly hear the Orphean warblers trills rise up over the chirps even with my headphones on.. listening I could hear more of the song behind all the sparrow clamour. By 5.35 a.m. bulbuls and sunbirds added their notes but warbler now quiet.

walk: overcast, hamsin like weather, warm. Hit about 39.5 degrees earlier.
5 gazelle up on hillslopes just east of the bat cave, another , looked like juvenile male, moving along by the watercourse, then headed into the pines by the service road, across the dirt road and on up towards owl glade.

Skink seen amongst rocks by north valley dirt road. brown back, stripe along flanks, a small slender one, at least 10 cm long. At first I took it for a snake but it was moving more jerkily and once when it was still for a fraction of a second I could just see its tiny legs. Unfortunately it was moving too fast to photograph and reached cover soon.
Hyrax seen on a rock in an area of stepped limestone rocks between the owl glade and the north valley dirt road, far from the nearest colony. Is this one of a colony we have not yet noticed, or a nomad or exile? We did not see any other individuals about but we'll check that area again.
Birds today included blackbirds, possibly

Wednesday 10th March:
House sparrows started 4.20 a.m. another jump earlier, could be my light or family obligations.
Bulbul started at 5.15 a.m. by 5.45 laughing doves heard and sunbird calling at 5.51 am

Walk started ~5 am. mild/warm, sky mist overcast like chamsin, visibility poor, Adam just out of sight.

2 hawfinches top of cypress by valley road, flew off together, blackbirds in song, graceful warblers vocal as were greenfinches. Great spotted cuckoo calls up the slopes by east watercourse dirt road. Stone curlew heard as darkness fell .

We took shepherd's trail up from the dirt road, ground lush carpeted with clover and chamomile, seemed wrong to walk on it, till we reached open slopes of windsurfer hill, 4 mountain gazelle seen running from olive grove area, parallel with fence towards the eastern slopes of windsurfer hill. Another two gazelle moved into the cypresses from lower part of east field.

Thursday 11 March: Morning: House sparrows up by 4.15 a.m. but not continuously untill shortly after 5 am. within the next half hour jackdaws, bulbuls, sunbirds, and, to my joy, an orphean warbler joined in.

Later, on our walk, gazelles were seen running to and fro at the north end of gazelle field, behind the acacia and first almond, at least three individuals, perhaps more, and including an adult male. This was at about sunset.
greenfinches and collared doves were active and vocal.

Weather warm today- up to 31.5 degrees C at most, falling to ~26 degrees into the night.

Friday 12 March: morning: 5.08 a.m. I notice the Orphean warbler singing, still dark. House sparrows have been active already for nearly an hour. 5.23 a.m. bulbul melodious calls started. 5.26 a.m. sunbird started to call, melodious. Not sure if the Orphean is still singing, the others are making too much noise.. I don't think so. Correction, 5.30 a.m. Orphean singing again. bulbul harsh calls.

Saturday 13th March: Some large hawks about lately, individuals here and there perched on boulders, soaring or gliding at varying altitudes or taking flight from forest trees, but no good views.
No gazelle seen but plenty hyrax activity by valley road.. I startled about a dozen on the slope just down from the road. One heard giving the complex bark by the power station at 10.30 ish pm. Is this related to mating behaviour? In hyrax society the females are dominant. Is this perhaps the call of a female in heat? They have many other shorter calls they use for alarms.
What else about? Graceful warblers active and vocal, Syrian woodpecker call, collared doves about. Blackbird song in the woods, great tit calls. Stone curlews heard.
Chaffinch calls in the garden mid afternoon and sunbird in the cape honeysuckle.

Sunday 14th March: morning. laughing dove started at about 4.06 a.m. House sparrows have been up for at least 10 mins but that could be because of my light. Bulbul and sunbird started about 4.15 p.m. and some time shortly after I was able to hear Orphean warbler also through all the noise but it had stopped within the next fifteen minutes or so. Hooded crow at 5.40 a.m

Sunday walk: laughing doves, Syrian woodpecker, graceful warblers, calls of swifts and stone curlews at dusk.

Gazelle, one seen running behind the row of almonds, north gazelle field.

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