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,

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