Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thurs 17 Feb to end of Feb

Thurs 17 Feb
Lovely walk over north watercourse to hidden watercourse, across, then over hillside to service road and back through young pine grove.

1st noticed of season : LOTS of Roman squill on hillsides to north, white speedwell (in north watercourse) , blooming buckler mustard,

Peak of asphodel, more red anemone & cyclamen. (First cyclamen noticed day of mandrake)
Thorny burnet male flowers noticed also in past few days.
First time found a beautiful small fern in rocks near hidden watercourse. Only other fern I've found was maidenhair, this different species.

Fox: near flintstone saddle area, adult male gazelle, just west of bat cave.

Birds about: singing blackbird at dusk. Yesterday Akiva heard one mid afternoon 3 p.m. but then was overcast. He also noticed hooded crow carrying stick for nest,
Graceful warbler calls,

Noticed yesterday late afternoon, white wagtails on rooftop by Elias and about their roosting tree, linnets assembling next door cypress. Stone curlews after dark from direction of east field.

Saturday 19th Feb

Insect life is getting underway: over the past week or so we have seen increasing numbers of caterpillar ground tents and on thursday we found a small praying mantis in a thyme bush. Akiva has also seen grasshoppers, a hummingbird hawkmoth, hoverflies.

linnets still about, sunbird getting more active in the cape honeysuckle, all the food I put out on the table was gone by lunchtime, probably mostly by sparrows but perhaps linnets got some.

Gazelle: 4: Today, three over in the north field ploughed area, a lone (adult female), lower slopes north windsurfer hill by security road.. up from the small olive grove, an area they have favoured in the past.

Black redstart present at bunker rubble, Syrian woodpecker heard. Jackdaws, hooded crows, collared doves about, latter in their tree south west corner of east field.

Round leaf geranium and deadnettle starting to flower by the road side, savyon and fumitory still blooming.

Some kind of escaped psittacine about, mostly calling, single calls but gave a couple of phrases of almost song quality early morning. Didn't get a view.

21st Feb

Gazelles: 5 heading up treed west slopes windsurfer hill short way south of windsurfer.

calls of blackbirds, great tits, jackdaws, blackbird chaks at dusk, stone curlews just after and also, remarkably from down near east watercourse, repeated call of European cuckoo.. this early! Perhaps it overwintered like those turtle doves, and just kept low profile. Swifts are due now a few days, but none seen or heard here yet. Lark calls on east field but no good views. Tristram's starling calls over neighbourhood, up from pumping station.

A nice size spread of tiny blue borage types growing by valley road on way to pumping station. I had not seen them there previous season but had photographed this species just above tree line windsurfer hill.

Wednesday 23rd Feb

11 gazelles, 8 east field, (low part just south of small olives) including two subadult males sparring, 3 ploughed area beyond almond row north field also including 2 young males sparring, general playful mood amongst gazelles, high sproinging, running about.

linnets in trees next door, heard 6 am. Also about house, cooing laughing doves, house sparrows, sunbirds.
In woods.. blackbirds, syrian woodpecker call. Hooded crows, jackdaws about. Seep of chiffchaffs? On east field sibilant calls, lark like but none spotted. Looked for stonechats, not.

Saturday 26 Feb

14 gazelles! 7 by north watercourse near bat cave, at least three had long horns (adult males) so bachelor herd. 6 running through pine grove by service road including one adult male, 1 lone adult male looking down at us from about head of shepherd's trail, up from east watercourse dirt road, looked like alpha male of the east field group. Given we didn't see his females and well grown young, would mean probably still 20 plus gazelles in the area.

Garden: sunbird melodious calls, house sparrow chirps, laughing dove coos, linnet twitters next door.

Also about: jackdaws, hooded crows, some jay calls, blackbird chatter at dusk near look out corner, stone curlew call from direction of north fields/hidden watercourse.

still no swifts! late this year.

hyrax coarse barks from valley road area approaching and at dusk, bat over valley road just after dark.

flowers: now two kinds of fumitory, the many flowered pink and the longer white and purple. Also wood sorrel in association with the latter, round leaf geranium. Buckler mustard and shepherd's purse already making seed pods, asphodel, roman squill, anemone all over.

Monday 28th Feb

11 gazelle: Two adult males and a juvenile near north valley watercourse, eucalyptus area near bat cave. A group of at least 7 near a small stand of small trees farther east along north watercourse, more open area.. frisky, some playful head butting , jumping , kicking behaviour.
1 more heading up away from Pistacia grove.

Great spotted cuckoos heard for the first time this season, from near bat cave and from near cistern. Akiva spotted cuckoo in flight. Much jackdaw and hooded crow noise and restless pre roost circlings over tall trees by east watercourse.. possibly displaced from their usual place south west slopes of windsurfer due to building there so we have many roosting non breeders interfering with season's breeders in those trees. Also heard, graceful warbler in acacias by north watercourse,
Gardens: sunbirds, linnets, house sparrows, laughing doves. Haven't heard bulbuls in a while. Feral pigeons about rooftops.

Found flowering Bongardia by Pistacia grove, also some foliage of more near foot of shepherd's trail. Two kinds of vetch blooming, the salmon coloured and the pale off white. Lots of foliage of pimpernel, but no flowers yet, around foot of path from corner valley road to north valley dirt road. Possibly bloomed earlier in our veg patch due to better soil conditions. More blooming wood sorrel and fumitories. Got I.D. on the fern we found last week in crescent of rocks facing hidden watercourse, Cheilanthes pteridioides (thanks to Sara Gold of the site I use for plants. I had e mailed her a pic and she kindly obliged with I.D. ) , one of our pics below

Sunday, February 6, 2011

February 1st half

14 Feb: Mandrake flowers: This plant was found close to the north watercourse, though these days this stream only flows during substantial rain so it is relatively dry. This is the third mandrake plant we have found in the area, whole plant radial habit and about 2 feet across. I noticed when I handled the leaves, which were thick and almost leathery, a strange pungent aroma was immediately released into the air and lingered on my fingers for about quarter of an hour.

We looked for the plant by the long trail down to north watercourse dirt road but without success.

Sunday 6 Feb:

Blooming asphodel everywhere.

Today: gazelles: 1 female ran across central trail near look out corner, heading towards east watercourse area, looking over her shoulder frequently as if she expected something following her, at us, or at another gazelle farther back? We didn't see

Male adult on slopes up from east watercourse dirt road, between trees, heading south.

yesterday: gazelle spotted in small olive grove

Last week, sightings of a few sub adults

singing birds heard last couple of days early morning and sunset in tall trees of garden next to us and also in trees up from bridge.. sounded like same song. Too dim to see but linnets my best guess from song quality.

Blackbird heard in song occasionally over last week.

Stone curlews now heard frequently after dark calling from east valley. One day at look out corner as dusk approached heard three voices, from beyond orchard, north field and somewhere by east pine grove.

Syrian woodpeckers heard in woods.

Sunbird: this morning, calling, active in Cape honeysuckle.

Hooded crows, jackdaws, house sparrows about as usual. laughing doves foraging in garden.

Tuesday 8 Feb

Group gazelle up on skyline up from hidden watercourse 5 plus

Wednesday 9 Feb

Gazelle, (females/well grown young) group on west slopes windsurfer hill moving about together. A fourth seen nearby a little later, not part of that group.

Buteo, pretty nondescript browns, greys, no distinct barring, heading slowly north. Not harried.

Great tit calls. Tristram's grackle calls from somewhere up in neighbourhood.

Lark calls, two pairs over north slopes windsurfer hill.

Much more foliage lately.. spring groundsel , Senecio vulgaris (savyon) blooming in sapling field esp as well as a mass blooming of the tiny orange composites and some flowers of the delicate purple wild geranium Erodium acaule

Jackdaws and Hooded crows about, stonechat on thorny burnet, blackbird, stone curlew

Thursday 10th Feb

gazelle: 1 single adult male near bunker/look out corner area, two others, (sub-adults ?) near shepherd's trail.

Saturday 12 Feb

Linnets confirmed:) Small group twittering on top of tree next door, got good visual on three of them but from movements were more that moved away within the tree as we approached.

Gazelle: None visible in north and east fields but Akiva did spot one in the trees up slope imm. west of east watercourse dirt road.

Also seen and/or heard: Hooded crows, graceful warblers, blackbirds, stone curlews,

red anemone blooming amongst asphodel off valley road.

Sunday 13 Feb

Linnets again morning and evening choruses in next door trees. Sunbirds active, also house sparrows and laughing doves in garden.

Two gazelles, sub adults at top of shepherd's trail, including that individual with bent right horn.

Sparrowhawk glimpsed, blackbirds, hooded crows,

In fore part of gazelle field the Malcolmia is back in force and looking good, some lilac, as well as shepherd's purse in flower though latter looking smaller petalled and more delicate than I remember.

Monday 14 Feb: Linnets already arriving in the trees next door in several groups of twenty or so, flying in from north and east as we left the house , about 4.45 p.m.

plantlife stepping up- vegetation increasing all the time, wonderful! I love this time of year for the verdancy, green seems to glow from the ground in all its many forms. Fumitory already blooming by the street, first cyclamen blooming by long trail to north watercourse. Large mandrake found by north watercourse most significant.

No gazelle today but plenty hoofprints and some scat seen. One fox seen, darkish markings, heading into trees just west of bat cave.

Syrian woodpecker calls, various other usual birds, stone curlew very vocal just after dark.