Sunday, November 21, 2010

Week starting Sunday 21 November

Sunday 21st November

temp 13-22 degrees C, cooler, breezier, looks like wind is changing. Looking at weather reports, winds shifted from easterlies to north westerlies about noon time, and picked up. Still light breeze. Also scattered small cumulus noticed coming in.

Gazelle: Adult male grazing in middle of gazelle field, amongst the saplings. Another 2, female and/or well grown young, grazing in ploughed area beyond almond row.

Feral dogs
: apparent family group of 4 just north of sapling field near east watercourse, smallest dog with harness, strangely enough, interested in a bitch that seemed to be lactating, alternately trying to get milk and trying to hump her but without success at either. The dominant dog and bitch barked at us, and the dog came quite close to us barking threatengly, clearly wanting us to leave his territory but hesitant to attack as we turned to face him down. Picking up a rock clearly made him more cautious. I only intended to use the rock if he would actually attack but would keep it as a threat as long as he threatened us, basically giving him the message that we would pass through his territory at our own pace. He desisted as, it seemed, we left his borders not far from the Pistacia orchard. I've never seen the feral dogs this aggressive before, could be times are hard with the extended dry season.

No winterers noticed but for
white wagtail, some calls heard.
Graceful warblers: calls heard from nearby gardens or across street.
Greenfinches: calls heard from garden next door?
Hooded crows: passing over towards sunset
Jackdaws: calls heard
Sunbirds: song heard in Bauhinia from early, before 9 a.m.but sounded scratchy, younger male practising, not the usual male.
Syrian woodpeckers: calls heard

Monday 22 November

Gazelle: 1 adult male grazing by the large almond and hawthorns, another individual, well grown young or female also by hawthorns.

Reptiles: 1 Lacerta lizard by flowerbeds upper part of neighbourhood, the brown and green kind with thin stripes down the flanks.

Black redstart
: none
Chaffinch: several, on cypress tops near pumping station.
Chiffchaff: contact calls in pines, as have been heard every day lately.
White wagtail:many calls all day, and seen flying over
Blackbirds: no calls today

Eurasian Jays: active in pines
Eurasian sparrowhawk:glimpsed over pumping station (?)
Feral pigeons: rooftops

Hooded crows and jackdaws, much milling about and calling of several hundred birds over east woods/Pistacia grove area not long before sunset, more than the usual excitement but cause not seen, no large raptors or anything else unusual noticed. Syrian woodpeckers: calls

House sparrows: chirps in garden early afternoon,
Laughing doves: cooing and foraging on ground midday

White spectacled Bulbuls: calls

Tuesday 23 November

Temps cooler, westerlies. 10-21.5 degrees C

Gazelle: 3 in ploughed area behind almond row.

Foxes: 1 sniffing about near cistern before sunset, probably the regular individual.

White wagtail: calls, around building roofs, chiffchaffs: contact calls in pines.

Great tits, greenfinches, jackdaws, hooded crows, Eurasian jays : active and vocal

Sunbirds: young male outside window
stone curlew: calls
White spectacled Bulbuls: calls?

Wednesday 24th November

Gazelle, hyrax : none noticed
Foxes: 1 on north dirt road, not same individual we have seen around the cistern, this one has darker fur.

Black redstart: still none
Chiffchaff: contact calls, White wagtail:some calls
Eurasian Jays: calls, Blackbirds: alarm calls at dusk
Eurasian sparrowhawk: glimpse
Feral pigeons: some about roofs
Greenfinches: calls, Hooded crows: flying to roost
House sparrows, laughing doves :gardens
Sunbirds: garden subsong

Tristram's starlings: calls from betw neighbourhood and windsurfer hill somewhere, over pumping station or farther south

Thurs 25th November

Gazelle: at least 9: 1 adult buck then 2 groups of three (females and immatures) in sapling field moving gradually to north. Then two adult bucks, one chasing other, came down hill south of pumping station, ran swiftly over dirt road near bridge and on into sapling field. After this saw several individuals as we made our way north but no way to know if these weren't ones already seen.

Hyrax: churring calls from up slope near pumping station
Foxes: none, Feral dogs: barks
Feral cats: 2 on boulders by road cypress slum colony area, possibly trying their luck with the hyraxes

!Black redstart: 1st of season, seen at sunset on concrete blocks of rubble, male, bobbing and a flight

Chiffchaff: ~contact calls

White wagtail:calls heard all day
Blackbirds: alarm calls, Eurasian Jays: seen in pines but quiet
Feral pigeons: rooftops,
White spectacled Bulbuls: calls?
Graceful warblers: calls, gardens
Great tits: calls in pines
Sunbirds: calls, Jackdaws: calls
Syrian woodpeckers: calls and glimpsed
Hooded crows: over, and on windsurfer hill, flock on ground.

Monday 29 November

Felt cooler today but still dry, 16.5-22.5 degrees C

Gazelle: Today, adult male up on skyline viewed from east watercourse dirt road. Yesterday about sunset, adult male crossing valley road from bank, then down into pines. Also a couple grazing in north end gazelle field, backs to me.
Hyrax: some activity lately

Chiffchaff: contact calls in pines
White wagtail:calls flying over and about neighbourhood.
Eurasian Jays: about pines as usual.
Blackbirds: alarm chatters at dusk
Feral pigeons: about roofs
Graceful warblers: some calls.
Hooded crows: flying over, heading to roost, tops of trees, over pisgat zeev, over windsurfer hill
House sparrows:gardens, some chirps heard some days. but relatively quiet lately
Jackdaws: calls from Hizmeh hill, also flying over pisgat zeev and windsurfer hill
Laughing doves: some coos, about gardens.
Sunbirds: song in Bauhinia from mid morning, calls in cape honeysuckle
Syrian woodpeckers: calls in pines and eucs
White spectacled Bulbuls: calls?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week starting Sun 14 November

Sunday 14 Nov.

Temps: mild, 18-28 degrees C, clear skies, low winds, SE, low humidity. 12-35 sharavi

Gazelle: 2 East field, grazing between trees and olive grove, not far from dirt road down from hill
Fox: on central trail ahead of us, headed towards east watercourse, looks like the individual we usually see in that area.

Bats: over valley road, have been seen almost every evening last few weeks.

Black redstart: still no sign

Chiffchaff: contact calls in pines. Other forest winter birds not noticed but for White wagtail: calls throughout the day
Blackbirds: calls, Eurasian Jays: calls, Hooded crows, over, heading to roost, jackdaws calls

House sparrows: calls in garden trees, Sunbirds: activity in Bauhinia, at least two, chase. White spectacled Bulbuls: calls
Monday 15th November

Gazelle: 2 in pinewoods woods by owl glade, mother and well grown young. Then adult male seen grazing in gazelle field amongst the saplings, near centre watercourse.

Foxes: heard barking hoarsely and repeatedly north west of gazelle field/direction of bat cave. Mating season?

Feral cat: 1 hunting by rocks, cypress slum hyrax colony, possibly hoping for chance of hyrax kit.

Chiffchaff: contact calls
White wagtails:calls heard from house
Greenfinches: calls
Hooded crows: heading over to roost
Sunbirds: singing in Bauhinia again before 10 a.m. calls in the 3 pines by bunker rubble
Syrian woodpeckers: calls
White spectacled Bulbuls: social hoarse calls, settling down to roost, from bank.

Tuesday 16 Nov

Gazelle: 1 grazing way down north east gazelle field, too far to see gender
Hyrax: Akiva saw on his way down, photographed.
Fox: 1 through barbed wire betw pine grove and fence, down from olive grove, stopped and sat on haunches, watched us, moved on a few paces, haunches again, then lay down on ground, watching us.. feeling too self conscious to hunt?

Black redstart: looked for at rubble and gazelle field, still none . No other winterers but for
white wagtails, frequent calls through day over street, and heading over late afternoon to roosts.

Lark like bird but no crest noted, dark stripe through eye, paler supercilium, coarsely striated upper parts, pale under, squatting low on boulder lower north slopes windsurfer hill.
Blackbirds: alarm calls sunset

Collared doves: 1 in flight, no calls
Eurasian Jays: calls
Eurasian sparrowhawk:1 over central trail heading south.

Greenfinches: calls
Hooded crows: numbers on top of windsurfer hill.

Jackdaws: some flying over towards neighbourhood and calling

Sunbirds: calls and song in Bauhinia from mid morning
Syrian woodpeckers: calls in woods.

Thursday 18 Nov

Weather similar, clear skies, dry, south easterlies, warm, just under 16 degrees C to just over 26 degrees C

Gazelle: adult male. Yesterday adult male and another individual seen, perhaps a third, a little earlier by cistern but didn't see where it went.
Hyrax: some activity last two days.
Feral dogs: 2 on north watercourse trail heading for shaft
Feral cats: 1 near hidden watercourse.
Bats: dusk, over valley road

Black redstart: no sign, nor other winterers but white wagtails frequently heard both days.
Blackbirds: alarm calls about dusk
Eurasian Jays: calls
Eurasian sparrowhawk:1 passed over look out area both days approaching sunset, today a little later and closer to eucs, glimpsed again as we walked up east watercourse dirt road. Also heard from direction of shaft yesterday
Hooded crows: calls, flying over
Jackdaws: calls and flock moving at sunset towards PZ?
Laughing doves: ground, garden
White spectacled Bulbuls: calls garden
Sunbirds: calls in garden
Syrian woodpeckers: calls
Tristram's starlings: calls yesterday over windsurfer to south

Sat 20th November

16-26 degrees C , winds E/SE/S and light. Much dust and pollen in the air

: none seen anywhere in north or east fields in hour before sunset
Hyrax: activity around cypress slum and pumphouse colonies

White wagtail: calls heard. No other winterers noticed.
Blackbirds: alarm calls heard various parts of pine woods shortly after sunset
Jackdaws: calls heard various times of the day
Eurasian sparrowhawk: seen flying over east pinewoods, large individual, grey.
Graceful warblers: calls
Hooded crows: heading over to roost.
Laughing doves: coos heard about gardens and buildings late afternoon, haven't heard much lately
*Stone curlews: calls heard at dusk, first in a while
Sunbirds: song heard in Bauhinia, calls various parts of garden.
Eurasian Jays: calls
White spectacled Bulbuls: calls

A rather sorry looking hyrax noticed by Akiva, some way north of cypress slum colony, perhaps an exile unless there is still a small colony in that area by the school.

Several of these noticed in ploughed area beyond the almond row, roughly 'furred' leaves, largest examples whole rosette over 1 metre diameter .

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Early Kislev, week round-up brief reports

Sunday 7 November, Rosh Chodesh Kislev

Gazelle: 1 ploughed area, female
Hyrax: chittering alarm calls pumphouse colony

White wagtail: heard frequently during the day over the street, group of a dozen plus seen flying over Shadiker.
none of other winter visitors seen or heard

Feral pigeons: on and over buildings
Graceful warblers: calls, also heard from house so in garden or nearby garden
Great tits: some calls
Jackdaws: calls, about
Hooded crows: about, heading to roost
Hoopoe: 1 seen flying to end of Shadiker
House sparrows:about buildings and gardens, chattering, settling to roost
Laughing doves: on ground in garden foraging after food we put out for guinea pigs
Sunbirds: active and vocal, song in Bauhinia over hottest hours of the day
White spectacled Bulbuls: 1 seen around buildings, Shadiker

Tuesday 9th Nov

Gazelle: 1 crossing look out area as we approached from central trail.. young adult male from horns. Lots of tracks and some dung on the way from shaft to bat cave along recent man made trail (dirt buggy?)
Fox: repeated barks from direction of small olive grove, glimpse of dark individual running in tight arc over there.
No good sights or sounds of winter visitors in last couple days, has been quiet, clear skies, mild weather
Blackbirds: some alarm calls dusk east watercourse
Feral pigeons: about buildings, roofs as usual
Graceful warblers: some calls
Hooded crows: flying over towards dusk to roost, straggling loose flocks and individuals, relatively quiet
Jackdaws: calls on and off throughout day and yesterday.
Sunbirds: active, vocal in cape honeysuckle, singing in Bauhinia

Wednesday 10th Nov

Gazelle: tracks esp at Pistacia orchard
Hyrax: did not pass colony
Fox: usual greyish individual around the cistern, crossing to and fro, sniffing for food, then some barks from towards fence, pine grove,
Black redstart: Might have been, on bunker rubble saw shape, moving head, distance but no bobbing or flights.
Stonechat: calls from just beyond Pistacia grove
White wagtail:calls throughout day on and off heard from house.
Blackbirds: alarm calls about dusk.
Eurasian sparrowhawk: wheeling over look-out corner towards sunset
Hooded crows: heading to roost
Jackdaws: calls various times during day
Sunbirds: calls in pines by bunker rubble
Syrian woodpeckers: one on eucalyptus by us while we looked for black redstart
White spectacled Bulbuls: calls in garden midday

Thursday 11 Nov.

again, clear skies, mild, much pollen in the air probably mostly

: 2, first up slope by east watercourse dirt road, tree line, short thin horns, other grazing near cistern pine.

small winter birds, no show but for white wagtails, heard frequently through the day.

Blackbirds: some alarm calls at dusk in woods, Eurasian Jays: some calls. jackdaws, calls several times through day. Syrian woodpeckers, some calls in woods,

laughing doves
, foraging on ground in garden. sunbirds: active, melodious calling in cape honeysuckle, White spectacled Bulbuls:some calls in gardens

Saturday 13th Nov

Weather, a little cooler but still mild 17-27 degrees C, various altitude clouds passing over since thursday afternoon but no rain.

Gazelle: None in any of the usual places, Hyrax: did not pass colonies

Interesting softbill noticed on line near ramp down from back of building to valley road past acacia. Took off numerous times hawking for flies and landing again. Pale underside, pale brown, perhaps reddish tints on top, no streaking noticed, if anything, nightingale like jizz, not right for a spotted flycatcher, don't know if they'd hawk in open like that and so near houses, didn't see for long and light not favourable, and hardly saw wings and back.
Blackbirds: seen, heard around dusk alarm calls. Eurasian Jays: calls heard in pines,
Eurasian sparrowhawk: flew over flood garbage area (north watercourse dirt road) about dusk, from north gazelle field towards woods to south. Notable because we've seen this flyover there at this time numerous times in last seasons.
Black redstart, still none. Chaffinch: none noticed,
Chiffchaff: contact calls heard in pines, Stonechat: possible, by north watercourse, White wagtail:calls heard

Great tits: calls in woods near valley road.
Greenfinches: some twittering calls,
Hooded crows: heading overhead to roost, some calls

House sparrows
:twittering heard from house in trees,
Graceful warblers: heard from house, in or near garden.
Jackdaws:some calls heard
Laughing doves: about house, on ground
Sunbirds: calls and twittering heard in garden trees.
White spectacled Bulbuls: calls heard in garden, also active by valley road.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hot start of November, camping in Old city.

Inula in watercourse, coral gum, many saplings planted early last spring now 6/7 feet high.

Monday 1 Nov

Gazelle, 1 male adult good sized horns, 1 younger male judging by male type horns but half size of other. Under pines north of central trail, peaceful with each other, just walking and grazing together.

Fox, in woods just west of gazelle field, I think same one we saw the other day, looked at us.. as I was taking pics of Inula in the watercourse it stared curiously at us. When we looked at it again it turned and trotted off under the trees.

Blackbirds, jackdaws, hooded crows,

In garden: bulbul,
melodious calls.

Tuesday 2 Nov

Just before 3 a.m. distinct ticking sound in the garden or nearby garden, sounded like European robin! first of season heard.

Sky totally clear, wind low, temps cool/mild.

No gazelle in north gazelle field but found adult male grazing in the small olive grove, not far away, an adult female. Then three young adults/well grown young out in the field between the gove and WS hill. 5 altogether.

Foxes, two, one apparently chasing another fast along dry stone wall around the small olive grove and by security road. That was dramatic!

Brief and not completely distinctly heard sequence of calls in thorny burnet area between us and grove.. sounded like stonechat.

Also about: jackdaws (calls, in flight in open) , hooded crows (overhead, about hill, relatively quiet) , collared doves (betw. ground and pines, v quiet) , syrian woodpeckers (calls, brief view) , graceful warblers (typical habitat), chiffchaffs (foraging pine tops, some contact calls.) ,

garden: sunbird singing since shortly after 9 am in bauhinia, very active, feral pigeons on rooftops and over, some melodious bulbul calls, white wagtail calls, also on walk.

rubble and stone walls repeatedly scanned for black redstarts, no luck. Also still no sight or call of chaffinches in treetops. Climate change factor?

Wednesday 3 Nov.

early afternoon: Butterflies on Inula - whites, a small blue and salmon Arab, several more of the latter seen over the next few days various parts of town.

active and vocal: jackdaws, great tits, syrian woodpeckers, Eurasian jays, graceful warblers, chaffinches ? robin up south slope tick tick?

watched half a dozen chukar partridges across north watercourse making their way single file amongst the rocks. A little later approaching quarry area a larger covey, at least double, took off from ground ahead and to south of dirt road and headed up the slopes. hoopoe flew into pine behind.

gazelle across watercourse under pines, buck, then another two together, female and well grown young or two subadults, not good view

Sat and watched a hooded crow extracting pine nuts from a cone on top of a boulder just a few metres away. Tristram's starling whistles coming from direction of quarry several times.

Kestrel calling stridently, wheeled about, landed on one of quarry hoppers, alarming a flock of feral pigeons that usually perch up there. Soon they realized the kestrel was not a threat and came back to settle back on the other hopper. (a little earlier another kestrel or perhaps same one flew about, landing on top of cypress, nice view).

Watched hyraxes on the limestone steps on approach to quarry, adults, sub adults, no youngsters, walking single file and foraging,

Black redstarts about? Not confirmed. Positive on stonechats though, first of season! in scrub sides of second south quarry near the several floor buildings, bulbuls also about in that locality.. this approaching sunset.

best view of the day: between last eucalyptus grove by north valley watercourse and pines at about 5.15, dusk, very nice views of hawking nightjar twisting gracefully and silently, swooping in and out, up and down.. hawking something between style of bee-eater and bat. At least two bats also about same area. That was lucky! (I brought Akiva to same spot following saturday evening but no luck, bats but nothing more.. this was probably just passing through) Amazing, sweet.

Thursday morning 4 Nov. camping on Har Tzion behind Dormition abbey so could view and hear birds from dawn on quite clearly.. and it was getting light progressively after 5 a.m.

Hooded crows, jackdaws active and vocal from early. Blackbirds: many using area, gardens and parks and quite a lot of old growth pines, cypress, olives, carobs and much dense foliage of varying heights providing multistorey habitat including oleander, pyracantha, phlox, many others. Laughing doves still cooing, feral pigeons also, greenfinches. Above where I slept soon heard raucous calls of ring necked parakeets in the high trees. Also bulbuls, house sparrows, great tits, sunbirds.

Descended Har Tzion on winding road down to main road, on way heard singing European robin ~6.30 a.m. Also about, Syrian woodpeckers. Heading up to Rova, old city, steps to Cotel, heard Tristram's starling whistles from tops of nearby buildings. These frequent the old city, have seen and heard them there many times, including actually on the cotel (wailing/western wall). Today feral pigeons used the upper niches as usual.

(unfortunately, due to some trivial sores on legs could not get about to do more birdwatching, had to give them chance to heal, frustrating as I am sure there is more good stuff in the area. I also wanted to spend quality time in the Rova/Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem which I had not visited for a long time)

Nov 5 Friday

Night was dry and not too chill, could sleep under stars, only cold enough for blankets and jackets in the few hours before dawn, trick is only to wear enough layers.

About 5.30 am sounded like every male blackbird around the field was scolding one another. These were later joined by hooded crows and a robin singing very near at hand in Dormition abbey tree above. Back where I had heard a robin yesterday there were at least two in singing dual , one I spotted on bare wood sticking up out of olives, nice open spot, bill open but moving with his notes and singing away beautifully.

around back of David's tomb, cooing laughing doves and feral pigeons again, graceful warblers, great tits, bulbuls, white wagtails, jackdaws, call of hoopoe,

8.30 a.m. Wolfson gardens in the valley below, sunny, warm/hot, clear skies. Ground well watered with green grass and clover leaves, very pleasant and great place for white wagtails to forage, and of course they were making the most of it. A donkey grazed not far off, a kestrel wheeled above and a masked shrike in the trees and bushes behind me called its scratchy call. A spotted flycatcher preened in a fig tree at the edge of the lawns and sunbirds called in from resplendent orange cape honeysuckle just beyond, and active in various other suitable places in the area.

Ring necked parakeets also very active in a date palm on corner just outside old city near crossing to Jaffa road and old city hall building. The dates were somewhat hard, fibrous, just barely edible for humans but probably sweet and palatable enough for them.

A few hours later headed home for Shabbat.

Saturday 6th November:

Again, pretty warm though some high altitude clouds coming in. House sparrows about, We started our walk not long after 4 p.m. Jackdaw and hooded crows active as usual, jackdaws vocal, bulbuls in street gardens. Descending ramp from back of buildings to valley road I usually check the acacia before we get too close to scare anything. It's usually used by bulbuls and such. Today a chiffchaff was in plain view in the middle foliage.

Best today: near pumping station heard the distinct 'pink' sound and looked, top of tree nice view of chaffinch, first definite of season! Looked for black redstarts in usual places (back of buildings near ramp, bank near pumping station, bunker rubble) but apparently none about yet.

1 gazelle near large almond, adult female,