Thursday, December 1, 2011


lots of mole rat activity lately, notably this, north watercourse dirt road as it approaches look-out corner. 15 Dec.

House centipede, Scutigera

Thursday 1 December

4.30 p.m. to sunset:

2 white wagtails on tv antenna on Elias calling single high notes, adult male gazelle up from north watercourse trail, stonechats
calling from various locations by north watercourse. Hooded crows returning singly from forage, feral pigeon flying between Shadiker roofs, House sparrows in gardens.

Sunday 4th December

Ah lovely invigorating walk back through the cool forest dusk , a waxing moon, Jupiter and Venus shining in the sky. Pretty quiet walk.. stonechats, Syrian woodpeckers, chiffchaffs, (latter, glimpsed foraging in pine canopy but no good views.. lots of contact calls) hoodies, (gathering in eucalyptus canopies near look out corner at dusk) jackdaw some calls, collared dove (left euc canopy, possibly because of hoodies, and headed across fore part of gazelle field to younger pines) , white wagtails (a couple on Elias near their favourite tree). Laughing doves and sparrows in the garden after the chicken chow.

No black redstart at rubble, no gazelle seen in usual places unless too dim to see by then.

Shabbat similar but glimpse of probable sparrowhawk over north watercourse area, and graceful warbler heard.

Monday 5th December

Just under 16 degrees C just after 4 p.m. hooded crows returning home from forage, a couple of sparrowhawk sightings, one from bat cave trees to eucs by north watercourse, then across the dirt road towards owl glade as we have seen many times about sunset, other seen flying over Pistacia orchard a short while later.. could have been same bird or another. 5 gazelle, females and well grown young, grazing on the hillside to NE, stonechat calls in field near look-out corner. Contact calls probably chiffchaffs, brief chaffinch call probably.

Tuesday 6th December

Clear skies again. Garden: laughing doves, house sparrows, sunbird calling in cape honeysuckle. Street: hoodies, jackdaws. Akiva heard Tristram's starling fly over. Woods: graceful warbler, Syrian woodpecker.

Gazelle . at least 8 today: Buck gazelle with esp. long horns euc. grove by north watercourse, Gazelle heading into Pistacias, the usual buck there. Then, as we approached the bridge on east watercourse dirt course group of at least half a dozen gazelle crossed dirt road from pumphouse end of sapling field and headed up hill.. good grazing there now. Lots of winter crocus on the shepherd's trail. No stonechats seen or heard on field today but sparrowhawk seen flying from low east field to woods.

Wednesday 7 Dec.

We found several Dianthus, in singles, by north watercourse dirt road. Most Varthemia gone to seed but I did find a flower still. Ragwort, Inula, some still flowering, some in seed. Polygonum still flowering esp. below Lev Aryeh.

At the quarry a black redstart was using a 30 m high hopper for flycatcher like tactics and Tristram's starlings were using a derelict building as home base, whistles echoing inside. We heard a kestrel, saw hyraxes amongst the rubble .. also Syrian woodpecker on tree up slope, Prinias, calls, a covey of chukars, at least 10 in file, some calls, (third way up opp. slope north watercourse) and a blackbird calling alarm in the advancing dusk below end shadiker, in pines.

plus house sparrows, (street, gardens) white wagtails, (flying over to roost) chaffinches,(calling in pines by north watercourse, and glimpsed) sunbird,(calling in cape honeysuckle, contact calls) jays, (calling in pines) jackdaws and hoodies, calls and glimpsed.

Thursday 8th December

Cold front coming in from the west late afternoon, splatters of raindrops on walk.

gardens: house sparrows, jackdaw calls. Akiva heard Tristram's starling heading over, higher.

gazelle: At least 5 bachelor males grazing near north watercourse just west of bat cave, at least 10 females and well grown young with one adult male not far east of bat cave, lower slopes.

white wagtails seen and heard flying over , building top level or higher, calling, heading to roost.

Hoodies about in singles.

Sunday/Monday 12 Dec.

up from east watercourse dirt road, treed slopes windsurfer, alarm calls, sounded like 2 European robins, two locations about 100 feet apart. A few gazelle, chaffinch call, then seen on top of cypress though white bar on wing looked very like that of hawfinch, still, chaffinch head. Do they hybridize?

House centipede
on wall in house, one of Scutigera, prob. S. coleoptrata.

Tues. 13 Dec

4 gazelle: 2 adult males in pines up from north watercourse dirt road, betw. their and owl glade. Male and female in Pistacia orchard, two grazing by coral gum, gazelle field, female and young or two well grown young.

hoodies about, haven't seen jackdaws last few days, flock moved off to better foraging grounds probably. street: house sparrows, feral pigeons. Sparrowhawk fly over shortly after sunset bat cave to owl glade area, as seen in past numerous times. No stonechats or black redstarts.

Wed 14th Dec

Overcast but mild. Watched a chiffchaff forage all over an acacia, calling every now and again while a European robin bobbed silently in the middle, so I waited a while to get a good view of the latter. (first actual sighting this season though several calls heard) . Later, more chiffchaff calls in various parts of the pinewoods, an alarmed robin down by the east watercourse just upstream from look-out corner, probably territorial, prob. a second robin vying for territory there, hoodies, Prinia, sparrowhawk's usual sunset flyover.

Thur 15 Dec.

From house: afternoon, numerous white wagtail calls, some jackdaw calls, so they're back from whatever foraging excursion took up the first half of the week, house sparrows of course. Ring neck parakeet calls.

Hoodies about. On walk, other side north watercourse adult male modest horns followed, a few metres behind by one with impressive horns. Syrian woodpecker calls numerous. As we walked up dirt road to windsurfer, cypresses on our right, high pitched call 'teee teee teee' I thought maybe goldcrest? Haven't found matching call. Suitable habitat though they are relatively rare winterers. Chiffchaff calls. On the way back along valley road dusk.. 'chick chick' calls of robins, two individuals from the sound of it.

Sat 17 Dec.

From house: day: heard, for first time in a while, laughing doves cooing.. also house sparrows, calls of ring neck parakeet and jackdaws. Akiva heard sunbird/s. In valley: Syrian woodpeckers, 2 adult male gazelle, one up on ridge to north(east), another in pines near owl glade, sparrowhawk, heading from direction of hidden watercourse to pines, over north dirt road, again over Pistacias a little later. Blackbird heard chakking near pumphouse, farther south. Stone curlew from direction of hidden watercourse. Chiffchaff contact calls.

greenfinch SONG briefly midday.

Thur 22nd Dec

Today walked up to butterfly saddle betw. north watercourse and hidden watercourse, at least 9 adult male gazelle in the area, between east watercourse and ridge to NE. Two with best horns sparring for a few mins in pines betw. just down and east of butterfly area..

relatively quiet lately. Robin very brief view in cypress on slopes near gazelle today, silhouette but Akiva also heard the call. Also in last few days glimpses of Sparrowhawks, Syrian woodpeckers active and vocal, jackdaws, hoodies. In gardens: house sparrows, brief visits by ring neck parakeets pretty much every day over this week, some bulbul calls but not very much in evidence. sunbirds heard esp. in cape honeysuckle.

That castor oil plant now has multiple spikes and a few inches taller than I am!

Sat 24th Dec.

After several days of mild temps , 15 degrees C and over.. winds in afternoon , clouds coming in from west about sunset, rain in dark continuing into small hours thank God!

On treed hillslope up from east watercourse dirt road, a little south of shepherd's trail, a group of gazelle in file along contour trail to south, females and well grown young. Out on east field crossing dirt road up windsurfer hill.. 6 gazelle trailed by adult male. Has that (east field/windsurfer hill) herd split then into two distinct groups? Will be watching.

Chaffinch heard, seen close to pumphouse, top of cypress. Hoodies about, one mobbing a kestrel flying over west slopes of windsurfer hill.. which they probably see as their airspace. Chiffchaffs heard. From house, house sparrows, a greenfinch twitter early afternoon, ring neck parakeet later.

Sun 25th Dec

drizzling .. valley road.. small chat like bird hopping on ground on valley road.. as we approached flew up into acacia... and perched quite out in open middle upper branches, good view .. grey head, dull orange red underparts, dark back, general jizz robin/chat, I'd say first winter male common redstart.. first common redstart I've found in our area but probably not first here, just most prob. keep themselves better hidden.

Mon 26th Dec.

Sunny, sky pale blue, house sparrows chirrupping, ring neck parakeets by a little earlier.. Just over 10 degres C at start of walk, shortly after 4 p.m now. Feral pigeon flock over Shadiker.

3 bachelor gazelle grazing near north watercourse, an adult male by Pistacias and a group of 5 well grown young/females in field just beyond, threading their way between thorny burnet and ragwort gone to seed, jumping onto and along dry stone walls..

hooded crows over area and about, feral cats hunting amongst the hyrax rocks, latter keeping a low profile,

white wagtails were calling as small flocks of them passed over to roost, calls of bulbul and Prinia. (earlier part of report and pic below this on my profile page), Slim shining crescent of the New moon of Tevet in the western sky on our return.

Tuesday 27th Dec.

11 gazelle in east field 1 well grown young which ran into lower east field as we came through Pistacia grove.. then the rest grazing near fence, between the olive grove and NE foot of windsurfer hill, adult male off by himself closer to the hill, chaffinch call, chiffchaff contact calls, white wagtails calls as they flew over, graceful warbler near large almond, bulbuls in neighbourhood, hoodies, jackdaws and a group of some melodious brown jobs in east field, larks I think but didn't get good views but probably crested.

Wednesday, Thursday 28th, 29th Dec.

Gazelle active , a number of bucks by north watercourse, several in the new pine grove by the service road for a change. Other gazelle in east field, four young ones head of shepherd's trail. Two adult male gazelle seen sparring betw. butterfly saddle and bat cave but don't recall exactly which day. 19 altogether seen one day.

Pick-up in bulbul calls and laughing dove coos heard in last few days in gardens. More ring neck parakeet calls.

Saturday 31st Dec

Most extraordinary, as walking along east watercourse dirt road saw raptor weaving fast betw trees below canopy level, falcon, dark grey, darker head, from what we saw matches peregrine falcon best!

When we reached top of shepherd's trail Akiva saw brown bird take off from ground and fly with abrupt turn and out of sight.. from what info we could gather fit snipe, which I've seen on Jerusalem hills on winter on other occasions. Unfortunately both above views very brief for better confirmation.

gazelle and hyrax not seen though hoofprints of course, but did hear syrian woodpeckers and blackbirds, and probably chiffchaff contact calls.

Found blooming Golden drop by wall at edge of neighbourhood.. don't think we've seen them so early before but sheltered location.