Thursday, April 22, 2010

Capers are back in bloom, cuckoos roaming.

This view may be familiar to some of my readers now. Yes, it's north gazelle field as it is now with its free standing almond and hawthorn trees, framed by Aleppo pines on each side. Now you can see the numerous plastic tubes used to protect the little saplings. dew condenses inside the tubes and helps water the young trees. You can also see part of the field beyond the almonds is also dug up though you can't see the trees there.. they are there. Beyond that the grasses of the lower hillslopes are growing paler, further lighened by stretches of whitish old oat heads.
In the foreground plants are already emerging through the overturned earth, mostly the hardy composites and restharrow. No Malcolmia or the other little gems this year but I hope they will be back next season.

This fancy little green abdomened spider had webbed almost the whole of this composite head and has accumulated quite a little larder underneath it. When I first saw it I thought it might be a crab spider but now, zoomed, seeing the shape and patterning of the abdomen it has to be one of the others-

Wednesday 21 April:
1 gazelle noticed mid west slopes of winsurfer hill.

Thursday 22 April
: Gazelles-(3) 2 on northern slopes of windsurfer hill, looked like mother and well grown young. Another relatively young individual seen running fast through east field towards the hill, as if spooked but I did not see anything towards the woods that could have alarmed it.

Birds last couple of days: blackbird song, graceful warblers active and vocal, great spotted cuckoo calls in eucalyptus near the Pistacio orchard.. fledgeling begging from hooded crow. Great tit fledgelings heard. collared doves both days, yesterday turtle dove heard even though quite cool.

Around house: bulbul, sunbird, house sparrows, laughing doves regulars, jackdaws, feral pigeons, hooded crows never far off.. (Orphean warbler not heard lately). Crows often noisy.. flock still roosting in eucs by east dirt road.. the non breeding group I assume, too young and too old (both together or do they make different flocks?)

No luck spotted any white storks this season, they may have passed over earlier in the day this past month. Hope we still have a chance!

Blooming: Ononis spinosa- spiny restharrow blooming pink in many places east field, windsurfer hill slopes. A group of 8 3spot Dianthus near tree line.. first time I've seen that many in a group, usually find them in just 1s and 2s. Foliage of mullein Verbascum and Cat thyme germander Teucrium capitatum becoming more and more obvious each day but not blooming yet. African fleabane going to seed, centaury, yellow on windsurfer, yellow with purple stamens, slightly larger, edge of neighbourhood.

Saturday 24th April: Still no luck on migrating storks but plenty bird activity before sunset.
European cuckoo heard a few times in the woods near the shaft about sunset. (though no great spotted cuckoo calls today) .. then a little later much noise put up by three, perhaps four hobbies in the pines by the owl glade. Akiva suspected they may have been alarmed by a large dark hawk (a Buteo?) that we had seen in there a short while before though I suspect it was more likely to be a conflict about territory , perhaps with immature hobbies from previous years having returned to their birth place when their parents preferred they would disperse. They wheeled about and called various calls numerous times though we didn't see any aerial encounters.

Gazelles: (7) One at the top of the shepherd's trail, (female?) with bent right horn bent more than 90 degrees inwards (and backwards?) a short while later we noticed a group of four individuals not including an adult male.. I think these were all young adults- moving from olive trees towards lower north slopes of windsurfer hill. A little while later we saw two more passing from woods in front of bat cave and out into the open field.

Other birds heard/glimpsed: Hooded crows, jackdaws, bee-eaters, swifts, stone curlews, blackbirds, graceful warblers, collared doves, greenfinches, Eurasian jays.

Monday 26th April

Weather: cool to pleasant mild : range 13- 27 degrees C. winds westerly most of the day, quite breezy in the afternoon hours increasing humidity to about 75% but that fell later, sky mostly clear, .

First capers seen blooming today! At least one great spotted cuckoo flying about between eucalyptus grove and cypress groves either side of Pistacio orchard, some calls. I think these are juveniles attended by crows. Syrian woodpecker also vocal and active in same area and the dusk songs of a little flock of greenfinches in the large pines by the bunker rubble, chawwing and twittering like canaries. Collared doves also heard and faintly from across gazelle field, the purr of a turtle dove. Laughing dove also did display flight over valley road today. Swifts about hunting over look-out corner, bee-eaters heard, Tristram's starling distant whistle. Hobby? over east field.. dark but with some brown markings.. an immature?

Hooded crows, jackdaws, Eurasian jays about. In the garden a sunbird vocal and active in the Bauhinia this afternoon.

Gazelles : at least three on north and north west slopes of windsurfer hill, not including an adult male. Moshe told us he saw a fox and at least three cubs several times near his tree house, a few hundred yards up from valley road, not far from the pumphouse hyrax colony.

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