Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spring greenery all over

Judas tree in bloom, Cercis siliquastrum- this tree was by east valley dirt road just a little south of the bridge. Below.. looks like one of the borages but unfamiliar as yet.. found at the head of the wide rough track that leads from lower open slopes of windsurfer hill just south of Pistacio orchard. Below, a clover growing on the shepherd's trail. Numerous clovers are blooming right now, some with circlets of small bright yellow flowers, others with the more usual pale with pinkish tints and this one, brightly purple.

Below, a hyrax skull found by the boys. The lower jaw is turned over to show the teeth. The skull is 8.5 cm long, 5cm wide and 4cm high.

A day or so before.. black redstart on stone wall and a dead tree by it, fore part of north gazelle field. Swift screams heard over the neighbourhood as it grew dark.

Tuesday 2nd March
: Still leaning towards Orphean warbler Sylvia hortensis as that early bird.. heard it early this morning and listened to recordings again and those rising and falling trills match far better the few recordings I have of Orphean warbler which really don't do it justice. I did see written that the quality of its song is comparable to that of the nightingale. Now I see how it gets its name, I always wondered. Very appropriate to be named for the legendary lute player of ancient Greece, Orpheus. The specific name, 'hortensis' is ironically a reference to garden, ironic since I had at first thought it might be a garden warbler.

Other bird of the day was a European cuckoo, which we heard call a few times not long after sunset as we walked up the east valley dirt road. Blackbirds were heard, both in song and 'chakking' its pre roost call, and much stone curlew vocalization from the direction of east field and to the north.

Wednesday 3 March: Orphean warbler started singing about 5.25 a.m this morning while still dark, later joined by sunbird, bulbul, hooded crows, laughing dove, house sparrows.
Later, on our walk, no luck with mammals but a hawfinch on top of cypress by valley road pretty much where we've seen one before. Jackdaw flock activity on windsurfer hill, kestrel circling over east field and bipass road , some hovering. Stone curlew vocalizations from various places outside forest borders as it became dark.

Thursday 4 March. This morning, Orphean warbler started about same time, perhaps a minute or two later, soon joined by sunbird, bulbul, laughing dove, house sparrows. Hooded crows and jackdaws also heard. One laughing dove started up about half an hour before the warbler for a short while.

On our walk: hairy pink flax blooming on south facing open hillslopes just north of gazelle field. Chamomile abundant, viper's bugloss and Egyptian alkanet also plentiful. Common mallow already has seedpods which are edible, I ate a couple.

Eurasian jays heard, kestrel heard calling from one of the higher rise neighbourhoods up the hill, great tit churrs heard. No luck on any mammals but for a feral dog, dingo coloured, up on the south facing hillside farther to the west.

Saturday 6 March: 3 mountain gazelle grazing up on western slopes of windsurfer hill, much grass and other low vegetation now, the hill is green between the rocks pretty much all the way to the top. Hyrax complex bark at pumphouse colony, up the hillslope there.. a whistle followed by a series of barking grunts, repeated.
Plenty bird activity today. Collared doves have started to coo and flight call heard.

Greenfinches have started to twitter and chaw. Chaffinches are still about, a small flock moving about the tops of eucalyptuses by east valley dirt road, one of which also held great tits, alarm calls in there. Also chiffchaff alarm call heard. Blackbirds active and vocal as well as graceful warblers and bulbuls. Jackdaws, Hooded crows and feral pigeons about. Sunbird in the cape honeysuckle outside husband's office/den. I was actually asleep over dawn for a change so missed the dawn birds.

Lots of pink butterfly orchid blooming by the shepherd's trail . An interesting borage unfamiliar to me blooming at the top of the wide rough trail leading from windsurfer hillslope down south side of Pistacio orchard, photograph above.

Sunday 7th March
Black redstart on line, just behind buildings near where the ramp goes down.

5 gazelle on northern slopes of windsurfer hill, hyrax active under cypress by valley road.

Bird of the day: a pair of great spotted cuckoos on the treed lower western slopes of windsurfer hill, near the bridge.. chasing each other back and forth and calling raucously. One seen clearly was a male.. could be two males arguing over territory. Also seen/heard- Syrian woodpecker, collared doves, blackbirds, jackdaws, hooded crows, bulbuls.
Around the house, house sparrows, laughing doves, sunbirds.

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