Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday 19th April-30th April

Checkered beetle on Achillea

Tuesday 19th April

: adult male west heading into woods after crossing dirt road from windsurfer hill to cistern. Small individual at the foot of this trail near cistern.

Fox: heading into woods west of gazelle field.

Two hobbies flying high over valley road. Greenfinch call and twitters around look out corner about sunset but not as much as previous years, just a few individuals, not a flock. Graceful warbler calls. stone curlew calls at dusk,

Garden: sunbirds, bulbuls, house sparrows, laughing doves as usual.

2 black veined white butterflies clinging to a Syrian thistle on the way to the cistern as dusk set in.

Wednesday 20th April

Headed to 'butterfly meadow', between north watercourse and hidden watercourse. On the way heard turtle doves, first I've heardthis season. On the way we saw a number of marbled whites, first I've noticed this season.

On the way back small flock on the hillside , didn't get good view but seemed to be linnets as far as I could make out.

A number of gazelle, both male and female, scattered and grazing on hillside beyond hidden course, in twos and threes.

Tristram's starlings calling up near wall, near head of hidden watercourse. Chukar partidges seen and heard. Shrike heard on the way back near north watercourse.. probably masked. European cuckoo heard. Glimpses of hobbies and sparrowhawks.

Thursday 21st April

Linnets on bank, got good view of one , corroborating yesterday's linnet sightings. More turtle doves.

Windsurfer hill: lots of clumps of Cistus on north and north west slopes, very light almost sandy soils there. pink butterfly orchids found withered with well developed seed pods on western slopes.

Several gazelle seen on the hillsides.

Monday: 26th April

Plenty gazelle seen today: east field in olive grove, long horn male, from horns I think the east field harem alpha. A female nearby behind. A couple of others, looked like well grown young, in field between grove and cypresses at foot of hill. North field: a second adult male up on back near fence, up from watercourse. A third adult male with several females and well grown young, at least five, in the field behind almond row. Further confirmation both areas have adult male with male/young group as well as a spare male between the two, none belonging to the bachelor herd, though the middle male may have been part of that herd, hard to know without marking. At least a dozen individuals seen today.

Hyraxes about and active forest side of valley road.

Buteos , 3 soaring high over east field. terminal tail bar, dark shoulders , otherwise nondescript brown barring on off white.

Hobbies, seen last few days over valley, sometimes one, sometimes pair, also calls.

turtle dove and collared dove coos in woods, laughing dove coos about houses. House sparrow flock by almonds/cistern, at this season they go into fields for grass seed.

Graceful warblers very vocal by east field east watercourse and other places. Blackbird song late afternoon. Stone curlew calls after dusk saturday. Syrian woodpecker one call.

Achillea, bright yellow relative of yarrow, blooming in many open places. One by valley road had largest crab spider I've seen, very camouflaged, had ambushed and grasping not sure what, hoverfly? Or bee, didn't see too close, didn't have camera for shot.

Sat: 30 April

More on Achillea.. on one small stand by north watercourse late last week found a marbled white, several green caterpillars, a checkered beetle and various larvae that may have been ladybird larvae or of some other beetle as well as ants on the stalks.

Gazelles: 3 up near top windsurfer hill, buck following female centre forest and couple females/well grown young lower treed slopes windsurfer.

Fox on one of the rockpiles just north of centre trail, in shade of woods, walking about, investigating. Looked our way a couple of times. Briefly saw another mammal just behind another rockpile beyond it.. got only two very brief glimpses , seemed to be avoiding encounter, got impression it was another fox.

Birds: Flock about 30 bee-eaters around cistern, settled in cistern pine and then took off together, wheeling around, calling. Hobbies about, multiple calls, appearances. Thursday: also hobbies, had nice view of sparrowhawk landed on branch just beyond north watercourse dirt road.. grey wings, top head, back, breast horizontally streaked pale and light rufous.
Also swifts, greenfinches twittering between eucalyptus and bunker pines on sat late aft. collared doves, turtle doves thursday but not sat, latter cooler, that's perhaps why. They seem to prefer cooing on warmer sunnier days but the cooler days don't put off the collareds.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

16th,17th April

North gazelle field, approach to shaft.. fields yellow with wild mustard.
Pistacias looking a lot better after their pruning, much more growth and greenery.

Nigellas by north valley watercourse dirt road.

Below, Syrian thistles with black and white spotted beetles.. many blooms had these visitors.

Below, A rose chafer visits a Syrian thistle.

Saturday 16th : Gazelles: At least 10 between north and east fields, in small groups or twos.. adult males seen in each field, in north following a female , in east by himself though probably associated with the females there.. ( they often prefer to graze apart from the females and young and can still be the alpha male of the harem ) . This could mean a buck with females in each area? Possible.

Neighbour Rabbi Goldwasser recently observed sparring behaviour in Pistacia grove area.. looks like there's a challenger to the east field male. Same one as a few months back or another one from bachelor herd trying out? Can't know for sure without marking them some way.

Sunday 17th : Adult male near north watercourse, quite close to us, good size horns.

Interesting behaviour in rocks above bat cave.. Akiva first noticed a fox there.. as I zoomed in with binoculars noticed there was a hyrax sitting on the rocks there. The fox circled but the hyrax stayed completely still, apparently unfazed. Then suddenly, after the hyrax moved a little, though not obviously threateningly , not from our point of view anyway, the fox ran off toward the east. The fox is nearly twice the size of the hyrax but the latter can be quite feisty fighters and the fox had no interest taking on a mature adult. This is also the first time we've ever noticed a hyrax on those rocks. A nomad? No colony over there. Later, hoarse hyrax barks heard at dusk from direction of cypress slum colony.

As the fox moved off we heard much agitated calling from stone curlews.. probably a pair had a nest out on the hillside there and the parents were raising the alarm. They would probably want to distract the fox away from the eggs or chicks.

A call drew my attention to the cypresses just west of the bat cave. A hobby was perched up there, nice look out position. A short while after we watched a pair circle over the watercourse, not very high but quite a bit higher than canopy level. No chasing behaviour so we took them to be a bonded pair. They then headed off towards the owl glade.

Jackdaw flock roosting in eucalyptus, look out corner. Relatively new roost due to building on south west slopes of windsurfer hill, disrupted their usual haunts and behaviour patterns.

Much calling from graceful warblers heard, some greenfinch calling though not as much as previous years, calls of bee-eaters heard earlier , (bee-eaters also heard friday afternoon over edge of neighbourhood, about a dozen spotted) , collared doves in trees usual north western corner of east field, some blackbird song, hooded crows about as usual. Shrike heard from near pumping station.

Garden: bulbul and sunbirds heard before 6 a.m. but still later than first house sparrows. Laughing doves cooing later. No Orphean warbler. Unusual unfamilar high pitched call heard earlier on saturday but could not find cause.. single notes repeated insistently. Not psittacine, too thin but loud.

Much pollen in the air! Most of north gazelle field has wild mustard neck high or higher along with wild barley and oats, along with pine pollen. Yellow Nigella found in a number of patches along north watercourse dirt road, had never seen so much of it there before.. as well as much blooming Syrian thistle. Gundelia flowering is finishing, more Acanthus than I've ever seen before, Asphodel is making seed capsules and its foliage turning orange, very obvious on the hillsides. We'd noticed caterpillars but as yet no marbled whites about. Many Umbellifers like Ainsworthia, though florets fewer, more sparse. not sure of ID at all, so many self similar of those.

Some flowers on hawthorns.. not as many as a few years back but improvement on last year when we found no blooming hawthorns at all.