Thursday, October 28, 2010

End October

wed 27th October :

gazelle : 3 just after sunset , at least, could have been more behind almonds, grazing on ploughed area gazelle field.

hyrax: active and vocal at Shadiker colony though just adults seen, no youngsters.

stone curlew heard calling, first in a while. Great tit calls. Syrian woodpeckers and blackbirds also heard.

thurs. 28th October:

fox, seen on dry stone wall briefly, mostly grey, small olive grove
gazelle: 3 , shortly before sunset, ploughed area north gazelle field, behind almond row. One adult male far west edge, two more, hard to tell but I think female and well grown young at far edge of ploughed area.. all grazing peacably.

We looked for black redstart at the bunker rubble and listened for stonechat but apparently not back yet.

Flock of approaching 200 jackdaws flying from hill north of Hizmeh towards windsurfer hill, some calling. Hooded crows about.

Glimpses of various raptors, sparrowhawks and falcons but not enough info for good IDs. Also in last couple of weeks a few glimpses of large jobs between trees we think long eared owls.

gardens: house sparrows, sunbird again singing from late morning, laughing doves foraging on ground, going for the guinea pig food, minor altercations betw. the two. Variety of Bulbul calls.

friday 29th Oct

sparrows chirping in garden. GREENFINCH in song in trees not far off, next doors cypresses most likely. White wagtails heard.

Sat 30th Oct.

Rains fell last night! That greenfinch knew... No thunder or lightning, first quite heavy fall after supper, then intermittantly through the night as more cumulus blew in.
Temps today just 15-18 degrees C.

All damp and aroma of eucalyptus strong in the air esp. as we walked around the loop past the pumping station and the bridge. The watercourse already not running.

best (and exciting ob) ob, two adult male gazelle sparring in field just east of Pistacia grove! Akiva spotted them, I looked with binocs and saw they were trotting to and fro with attitude which gave me an idea of what to expect next! Sure enough in a few more seconds they were head to head, clacking horns, sounds of these distinctly audible 'clack, clack' . A little later one chased the other behind euc and pine grove east of cistern and out onto north east gazelle field and up slopes. They passed by group of females and well grown young moving in a line steadily westward, mid slopes, at least 8 individuals. 10 gazelle in all. Our best view of sparring we've had yet so I was very pleased. This was between 4.30 and 4.45 p.m.

fox : spotted by me across east watercourse, reddish head and tail and stripe half way up back, rest of body and front face greyish. Aware of us, looked back at us a few times, made its way to central trail, crossed look-out corner at fair clip and headed into eucalyptus.

No luck on robins, black redstarts or chaffinches though we looked carefully where they would usually be found and in good time. These days we leave the house at about 4 p.m.

White wagtails heard on and off all day, seen late afternoon, a few flying quite high south towards pisgat zev. I think they're also using that round densely foliaged tree on Elias for roost, seen, heard individuals flying into it last few days, and they use rooftops, schoolyards and streets nearby to forage.

sunbird activity in cape honeysuckle about midday/early afternoon, at least two males involved, hard to tell , Akiva thought at least one may be immature. Feral pigeons about overhead, house sparrows active and vocal, laughing dove foraging on the ground.

Hoodies about, flock up on west slopes windsurfer hill, minor excursions into the air but preferred standing on the ground. Ahead, flock of about 50 jackdaws milling about not far above canopy level, look-out corner area.. perhaps fox excited them? Occasional Eurasian jay and Syrian woodpecker calls, graceful warbler calls. Occasional great tit calls, blackbird calls near owl glade. No chiffchaff calls. while we were still on valley road heard some Tristram starling whistles then saw pair flying quite quickly across the valley from our neighbourhood towards Hizmeh.

Saturday evening some neighbourhood boys came knocking on our door with bird in hand.. which I must admit I did not recognize at first, it was so unfamiliar to me, soft dark grey, long red bill like a wader. Only when they put it on the floor and it began to walk with it's moorhen like gait and seeing the brown striations on the back I suddenly realized what it was and could find it for them in the book. It was a water rail! Rallus aquaticus.

I don't recall seeing one before, perhaps with the JBO some years ago, but I don't remember, and this is a new one for our 'patch'... just about qualifies as it was found way over in what amounts to a south western 'tongue' up from Mir Forest, Gan Petri, a public park in the upper part of the neighbourhood about 15 minutes walk west of us.

The boys wanted to keep it as a pet and wanted to know what to feed it but we strongly encouraged them to release it, thinking it most likely to die in captivity.

According to my book many water rails pass through Israel on migration in spring and autumn and a number overwinter in suitable parts of the country.

Sunday's walk was relatively quiet, though a couple of gazelle in the grazing area beyond the almond line that we could see already from our street, jackdaws, hoodies and similar stuff.. no sound or sight of winter visitors though the earth was wonderfully damp , white wagtails calling as they flew by on and off through the day, three sunbirds active in the cape honeysuckle.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

3rd quarter of October

Gecko on the wall outside our front door. Below, budding autumn squill.

buds of autumn squill, found by saddle watercourse, first and only found yet.

Saturday 16th Oct: mud dauber wasp seen in garden, hovering near french windows.

Boys had quite close encounter with
Indian porcupine, passed just few feet away.. on walk to local pool . Showed no aggression, surprising because they are usually much more timid and do not allow such close approach.

Sunday 17 Oct.

First White wagtail heard this season! Early afternoon heard from house, over street.

Gazelle: 1 female by tree line windsurfer hill, another three between dirt road off hill and small olive grove, two (well grown young ?) then another leaping, Akiva thinks he saw male horns but light poor by then.
Hyraxes by valley road boulders by forest, some juveniles.

porcupine quill on saddle watercourse trail, about third way up.. brown and white, quite short.

Budding autumn squill ! First this season.

Lots of crows on the hill, mixed jackdaws and hoodies, between 50 and 100, boiled up from the ground like ash from a fire as we approached a newly excavated archaeological site on upper western slopes. Eurasian sparrowhawk passed over mid west slopes.

Active and vocal Syrian woodpeckers, Eurasian jays, blackbird dusk alarm.

Around buildings, feral pigeons as usual, sunbird singing in Bauhinia, graceful warblers, and generally lately laughing dove house sparrows occasionally coming down to forage on garden ground for food left over from chicken and guinea pigs.

Monday 18th October

Chiffchaffs back! At least 3 individuals various places in woods, foraging in tops of pine trees.

Sunbird singing in Bauhinia tree from late morning, jackdaws and hooded crows about.
Eurasian jays about, foraging on ground, or between trees. Bulbul heard in Pistacia grove. Syrian woodpeckers active and vocal.

8 gazelle: 2 down slope by trail from valley road to north watercourse dirt road, 1 adult male across the watercourse, limping, favouring back right leg. Couldn't see any damage, could be in hoof. 4 more under edge of young pines a few hundred feet from service road, 1 more adult male just up slope from east valley watercourse just south of Pistacia grove.

Bats seen quite regularly lately at dusk, over valley road and central trail.

21st Oct
Female sunbird seen foraging outside window, calling sharply. Laughing doves foraging on ground in garden. Jackdaws heard. Akiva saw a number of white wagtails near central bus station.. there is a large roost near there, used every year.

24th Oct

Fox seen across Pistacia orchard, greyish whitish mottled, colouring I hadn't seen before but definitely fox, usual bushy tail

Birds pretty much as 25th, also Eurasian jays calling lately east woods

25th Oct

Sunbird singing in Bauhinia as usual from late morning. At least two laughing doves about foraging on ground in garden. Bulbul on cape honeysuckle early morning but quiet.

Farther off: jackdaws heard on and off all day, in woods, Syrian woodpeckers, blackbirds calling, hoodies flying to roost, about half a dozen ducks over at dusk a few days lately, about 5.30 p.m. look out corner area. Graceful warblers vocal and active by valley road and other places.

Bats and hyraxes not seen today, a bit cool and windy. today's peak was about 22.5 degrees C today and already under 20 during walk.

Only wild flowers now are the bright yellow Inula (ragwort type) growing in clumps in many places and itching our noses, and the Polygonum just below Lev Aryeh.

First rain not yet, still waiting for that. Also haven't seen any goldilocks.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Obs first half October.

I found this caper stem interesting because I have not seen this kind of flat form on any other bush. See how it bears prickles on its surface as opposed to the usual opposite pears. The caper flowers are finished now but many still bear green leaves. Caper bug infestation does not appear to be as heavy as last year though there still is some. I notice the leaves are significantly smaller on many bushes this year, perhaps a response to the infestation. Does it have any protective effect? Make the bush less desirable or even recognizable for bugs?

This is the only specimen of prickly pear (Opuntia) I have found growing spontaneously anywhere in the forest and just found it today, just up from east watercourse on the western banks, south of the pumping station. Possibly sprouted from a Sabra fruit seeds dropped on some picnic- ( evidence of campfire site in vicinity).
Prickly pear is not a native.. it was probably introduced from Arizona in the 19th century for natural fencing. There is at least one large mature plant on our street.

3rd Oct: Small flock of hooded crows windsurfing off the upper western slopes of windsurfer hill and later flying over to roost. Jackdaw calls from Hizmeh hill slopes, calls. Falcon like calls, probably hobby. Syrian woodpeckerTristram's starling from direction of 'hood.

Around house, sunbird in Bauhinia, house sparrows, graceful warbler call.

16th Oct: Saturday

gazelle: a couple, females, up on hillslopes imm. east of east watercourse dirt road, near tree line.

fox: I found one today about sunset, low bushy grey one passing behind cistern pine, going to and fro, sniffing ground, searching. Akiva found one a couple of days ago foraging north watercourse, seen from shaft, a dark one.

hyraxes: some activity, couple of adults corner sapling field near pumping station. lately quite a bit of activity in warm dry late afternoons boulders across from cypress slum, none on cooler windier afternoons more frequent now.

Syrian woodpeckers heard as frequently as usual lately, jays also heard east woods, . Masked shrikes heard a couple of days ago about sunset.

large flock hooded crows up on windsurfer hill, calls, also jackdaws, both about last few days, crows seen going to roost. Jackdaws vocal, crows much less so.

Sunbird still singing in Bauhinia mornings and early afternoons, flitting between cape honeysuckle and there, very active.

evenings getting much cooler, light cotton blouse not enough, but days still warm, friday was almost 33 degrees C at noon. A two minute rainfall a week or so ago but otherwise still dry.