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.

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