Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fourth week of March

Pea relative, like Ononis, restharrow? photographed on 30th in cleared area middle of east woods

tiny cress like plant, needs I.D. by north watercourse dirt road.

turban buttercup laden with beetles. Now flowerheads are restaurants. This afternoon, latish (31st) watched a nice variety on milk thistle including lots of black aphids being worked by large reddish brown and black ants and several crane flies also came in to dine.

Saturday 24th March
spring equinox

Mild/warm and clear in the valley this afternoon, about 20 degrees C. Set off shortly after 5 p.m.

blue pimpernel noticed on trail down from valley road to north watercourse dirt road.

Greenfinches have resumed twittering in the valley, some collared dove coos. Buteo noticed, very dark, dark tail band. Syrian woodpecker call briefly. Great tit scolds but not song. Graceful warblers quite vocal. Jackdaws and hooded crows, activity and calls. Feral pigeon activity. Bulbuls, sunbirds, house sparrows about gardens. didn't note laughing doves but probably about. Jay activity, some calling.

On way back, blackbird alarm calls somewhere in east valley, some brief notes heard. Alarm call seemed to set off a stone curlew. European cuckoo heard in woods dusk.

kestrel calls from tall building near top of our hill, some swifts flying about high above. Hyrax barks heard. No gazelle noticed today but could be shy due to increased human activity in the valley (people taking Shabbat walks)

Sunday 25th March.

Greenfinches twittering and chawing, activity between trees in the lowest, youngest pines. y, some collared dove coos and activity, pairs together. Buteo noticed again, light undersides, fine banding, dark primaries, dark tail band. Syrian woodpecker noticed by Akiva. Great tit calls? by service road, no songscolds; Graceful warblers quite vocal. Jackdaws absent today, brief call? and hooded crows, activity and calls. Feral pigeon activity. Bulbuls, calls many times from first light, gardens and edge of neighbourhood. sunbirds, musical calls garden, briefly hovering right outside window house sparrows about gardens. didn't note laughing doves but probably about. Jay activity, some calling.

On way back, blackbird alarm calls, Akiva heard song earlier.

kestrel noticed eating food on ground on hillside to north. , some swifts flying about high above from edge of neighbourhood to over valley, some screams. Gazelle. group of at least 9 females and well grown young grazing in field by twin pylons, lower hillslopes to north.

Much Eurasian jay activity, some calls. pair of chukar partridges noticed in open lower part of east field.

Thursday 29 March

cool/mild, just over 12 degrees C on walk, partially cloudy

Bulbuls, many calls, gardens and north watercourse area; sunbirds, musical calls garden;, house sparrows about gardens. laughing doves about garden as usual.

some twittering and chawing in the youngest pines; collared dove coos and some activity;. Buteo noticed again about half dozen individuals, one attacked repeatedly by a hoodie over central trail, light undersides, fine banding, dark primaries, dark tail band, upper wings black and brown, no distinct patches, two landing near bat cave followed by repeated anxious sparrowhawk calls; Graceful warblers quite vocal. Jackdaws some calls. hooded crows, activity and calls. Feral pigeon activity, much cooing in in eaves of building at edge of neighbourhood. Jay foraging activity and calls.

On way back, blackbird alarm calls and some song.

kestrel flying over north watercourse from hill to woods. Gazelle not noticed, prob due to more activity of children in valley, probaby had moved up north watercourse valley and/or over to sage vale. some calls of great spotted cuckoo heard somewhere up north valley. Akiva was reasonably sure he heard European cuckoo. Hyrax heard somewhere on the bank after sunset.

stone curlew heard from east fields after 10 p.m.

Friday 30th March

In valley, Prinias calling down in the fields, great spotted cuckoo heard, sparrowhawk heard from direction of bat cave. Usual garden and street birds.

Saturday 31st March

We were listening out for turtle doves but no luck.. either not back yet or had finished cooing. I've noticed in the past they prefer to coo when it's sunny. We did hear some blackbird song and alarm calls, some great tit scolds. Tristram starling whistles, sounded like two of them flying from neighbourhood over towards Hizmeh. Swift screams. Buteo spotted briefly. Hooded crows about as usual.
house sparrows, laughing doves, bulbuls, sunbirds in garden as usual.
Hyrax barks at sunset.

Also noticed blooming: Onobrychis vetch, the dark purple variety, bright yellow Achillea

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Third week of March

Heart podded hoary cress at rubble (where we usually see black redstart) Cardaria draba

Thurs 15 March:

Garden: sparrows, cooing and foraging laughing doves, sunbird calls, short melodious, calls of hooded crows

feral pigeons about, jackdaws over, calling.

cool, rain threatening, has rained on and off through most of last night, thank God!

Brief walk on valley road, ominous rain clouds scudding over from the west.. hyrax seen right under Lev Aryeh building amongst other places, three gazelle grazing in the sapling field, femles, well grown young, watched a chiffchaff forage in an acacia, also heard/saw jays, syrian woodpeckers, ring neck parakeets calling from eucs down by look out corner , jackdaws, great tits,(some song), graceful warblers and the usual patrolling hoodies.

chaffinch calls, 1 female on acacia, 1 white wagtail flying over neighbhourhood, confirming they're still about. Looked for swifts but saw none in sky.

19 March Mon

garden: house sparrows, laughing doves cooing and male following female on ground, strutting, great tit song in our or neighbouring garden. Bulbul melodious calls. Jackdaws, hooded crow calls. Feral pigeon flock on wing when we left house. No sunbird calls.

star clover noticed today, their flowers were pink and white but now they are morphing to the characteristic star seeds. Lots of pheasant's eye and chamomile on the hillside. Watched kestrel hover and dive for food on hillside colouring suggested female. Made at least one successful catch.. was on ground for some time feeding. Then flew up to perched on line. A second bird heard calling from direction of Hizmeh. Soon after pair seen flying over cistern to west.

Spotted nicely furred fox loping along towards the bat cave but vanished before he reached there.. we think perhaps into earth but view blocked at that point by a pine. Sparrowhawk flying from hill to woods over shaft area as seen many times before sunset. Several collared doves on line and in pines near cistern, not at all bothered by kestrel. Eurasian jays glimpsed but not vocal. A couple of swifts up hawking. Prinias calling. Blackbird alarm. No sign of any winterers today.

Gazelle: at least 5 up on skyline to north.. bachelor herd. Two females on hillside lower and farther to east. Chukar? Or hyraxes sounding like them, which sometimes they do, or similar to kestrels.

Weather quite mild, temp up.. sky white, visibility less than a mile.

Tues 20 March

sunbird and bulbul melodiously vocal in the garden as it became light. House sparrows, laughing dove coos heard later, and jackdaws from somewhere about the street.

Weather mild, clear skies, over 16 degrees C.

milk thistle is beginning to bloom now and collared doves are just starting to coo in lowest pine grove. Kestrel on the line over hillside to north, prob the same one we saw yesterday. At least 14 gazelle grazing there, some chases noticed, young males showing off to the females. Great tits, graceful warblers active and vocal. Several swifts on the wing over edges of neighbourhood. Chaffinch calling in acacia at head of trail down to dirt road. Akiva spotted a hirundine but was gone before we got more info for id. Hooded crows about , valley and neighbourhood. Feral pigeons over. Eurasian jays active here and there. Graceful warblers active and vocal various places.

Wed 21st March

mild, clear and sunny

Today went up north watercourse dirt road towards quarry in hope of seeing Tristram's starlings or little owl. No luck on those but did find some nice wildlife.

gazelle 4 on hillside up from north watercourse, 2 females together and a male following a female, hyraxes over on rubble to north of watercourse before quarry.. little owl area; kestrel crossed over from A Ram to neighbourhood, jays active foraging on ground in many places, some calls, blue rock thrush foraging on rocks in little owl area, black redstart perhaps also a female, at other end of same rubble hard to make out details. chukar partridges in many places.

of most note for plants: 1 blooming clump of Turban buttercups (Ranunculus asiaticus ..) side of road but attacked by caterpillars.

22 March

garden and area: house sparrows, cooing laughing doves, bulbul calls,

adult male gazelle in woods near central trail

pleasant walk: kestrel pair up on the hillside, on lines, power line posts and also flying about briefly, mobbing a large dark bird that had landed on a boulder at the top of the hill. Buteo also landed on top of cypress a little to west , by bat cave. Hoodie mobbed it briefly. Swifts high over tall buildings edge of neighbourhood at top, great spotted cuckoo heard, syrian woodpecker heard repeatedly near bat cave, perhaps concerned by the Buteo; cooing collared doves, great tits and Eurasian jays, graceful warblers active and vocal and, notably, Akiva heard and saw a pair of *turtle doves* in a park in the centre of town- cooing distinctly.. I wonder if these are early arrivals or overwintered?

small poppy species noted on way down trail, about half the size of corn poppy and without the blackcircle at petal base though there was a black margin at base.

Pistacia orchard now budding into leaf, hawthorns well leafed.. hope they bloom well this year for a change, greenfinches not noted yet, white broom, blooming, noted near pumphouse, hadn't seen one there before, and the one blooming on the lower bank down from north loop of valley road has spread considerably.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

March 2nd week

small stand of wild tulips up wooded slopes from east watercourse dirt road, near 'tree line'

clary- Salvia horminum

thurs 8 March

Pleasant day ~17 degrees C give or take a degree most of afternoon, mostly clear, a little cumulus.

Crossed north watercourse and headed up hill. Still lots of asphodel, Roman squill and cyclamen, also more figwort, some orange pheasant's eye, patches of clary and now plenty of the small blue, blue purple mini iris with stippling and yellow at base and inside tubes of petals.

Garden: house sparrow, laughing doves, also about street, hooded crows. some Feral pigeons about, Akiva saw sunbird earlier .

Up on hill.. ahead of us, group of half a dozen gazelle. Larks up top of hill, one hovering a few metres up from ground calling repeatedly , perhaps simple song. No good views. Two stone curlew left slope, headed down to fields. Looked for eggs, was possibly suitable laying area, but no luck. Chukar partridge heard somewhere on the slopes. Great spotted cuckoo heard from down in the woods somewhere.

Also great tits, graceful warblers. No luck with stonechats.

Sat 10th March

stone curlews (from north field area) and european cuckoo (from pines near north east corner valley road) calling in dusk on our return.

a few gazelle 2 north ridge, 1 buck coming up from top of shepherd's trail, headed out over east field, lower windsurfer slopes, lots of chiffchaffs contact calls, great tit scolding calls, brief song, graceful warbler vocalizations, european jays activity but quiet, a pair of hoopoes flying north east of trees; black redstart on a dry stone wall east field, female stonechat also there.. no male stonechats seen or heard anywhere. collared dove group on line over confluence, brief blackbird song.

Akiva heard sunbird earlier. about street: house sparrows, laughing doves, bulbuls (active, vocal many places today) , hooded crows. Jackdaws not noted. Did not look out for swifts and none obvious.

Sunday 11 March


Around dawn melodious bulbul and sunbird calls heard.. laughing dove coos, chirrupping house sparrows and later, jackdaws, hooded crows, feral pigeons.

*wild tulips* growing in several locations on west slopes. The first location we found them a few years ago is now part of the construction I think but I was optimistic and determined to discover more sites. I did find a group of tulips just below the most north western tip of the roadworks. Making our way down the hillslope Akiva discovered a couple of isolated flowers and then a beautiful little stand just inside the 'tree-line'

Also lots of buttercups, butterfly orchid, mini irises, buckler mustard and others. Cistus vegetation noticed north west windsurfer hill slopes.

Also, gazelle, adult male , then three females and well grown young lower north slopes of windsurfer. Hyrax chitters and activity by pumphouse colony, swifts now beginning to scream and lots of activity from jays, great tits, blackbirds, syrian woodpecker, ring neck parakeet, graceful warbler, blackbirds. Stonechat out in field. Black redstart absent from rubble and dry stone wall,

Monday 12 March


some gazelle: adult male went from Pistacia area to small olive grove where grazed. Group of 3 females/well grown young crossed shepherd's trail and continued along treed hillslopes to sw. a few adult hyraxes out on rocks at Shadiker colony, lots of jay and Prinia activity esp. in lowest parts of woods, blackbird and great tit song, great spotted cuckoo calls around look out corner area, collared doves and then four *black kites* appeared over windsurfer hill almost hovering, circled around over east valley and flew right over us.. (cistern to top windsurfer trail) then went on their way back over east watercourse, look out corner area, upsetting the local hoodies. A couple of hoodies flew up in half hearted harassment but kites chased them back briefly and they desisted.

Is it a crossbill eruption year? Saw pair finches up in pine by, cistern to windsurfer trail, mostly obscured by foliage but were feeding in there, bill wiping noticed, distinctly forked tail, brief view of underside of one looked redder than I'd expect from a chaffinch (which I'd at first thought they were.. had heard call like chaffinch but a little softer.. but not as crossbill described in book though just a contact call.. they all have a range of several) .. didn't get any better views except clearly a pair.

Chamomile starting to bloom, lots of Carmel bee orchids and pink butterfly orchids about.

Wed. 14 March

garden and street: house sparrows, bulbuls quite vocal in various places, laughing dove coos, feral pigeons, hooded crows.

a dozen gazelle grazing lower hill slopes just east of bat cave, females and well grown young, 1 adult male in attendance. 4 more on slopes up from east watercourse dirt road, sub-adults all?. A few Buteos about, brief view of large bird of prey over east watercourse being harassed by a hoodie, got impression it as a black kite.

great spotted cuckoos active and vocal, singles flying about, and brief chiffchaff song in young pine grove by hoopoe corner. Eurasian jays quite active. Quite windy, making flight difficult for most birds.

Black redstarts, sunbirds, blackbirds, Syrian woodpeckers, stonechats, swifts, jackdaws not found.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March, First week

hyrax found on valley road: back foot. Back legs were quite short, similar to dimensions of guinea pig.

front paw

eye and mouth.. also noticed pink tissue coming out of nose.. in skull we noticed well developed nasal cavity.. probably a LOT of nasal sensory tissue.

hyrax ear

Thurs March 1st

brrr temps falling! mid afternoon temp about 5 degrees C, raining on and off last couple of days. Sleet this morning, snow in Amman. We did get a gap in the rain for a short walk on valley road for about half an hour before sunset. All watercourses flowing. I don't recall SEEING north and hidden watercourse flowing before.

Blackbird (in castor oil bush on bank) and great tit(down in pines) in song, whistle from a Tristram's starling flying up north watercourse, encountered a HEDGEHOG crossing the road before us while yet light.. he stood still as we approached, watching us with his beady eye and looking scared. I assured him we were mostly harmless. He didn't roll up, just waited till we moved on.

gardens: house sparrows, laughing doves about, brief calls of sunbird and bulbul. Hooded crows about street, roofs, flying over valley, some calls

snow friday morning, settled briefly. Rain on and off into Shabbat

Sat 3 Mar

Garden: laughing dove coos shortly before dawn, still dark. Later, hooded crows, then house sparrows. Later, ring neck parakeet calls. blackbird song.

afternoon walk: drizzle on and off. Linnets about, small flocks flying about, and 2 in linnet tree. Several chaffinches off valley road, tops of cypresses, calling.
Blackbirds, song in trees on valley road, woods.

Swifts over edge of neighbourhood, several. not calling. Large sparrowhawk flew up over windsurfer hill lower slopes towards Pisgat Zeev, not high above canopy level. Female? Another sparrowhawk some time later flew from north watercourse area to over edge of neighbourhood.

gazelle: buck near north watercourse, near bat cave, rubbing horns against sapling apparently. sounds of hyrax barks.

No jays or woodpeckers today. Chiffchaffs active though, calling, foraging, flying between trees. Graceful warbler call. Bulbul various calls. Jackdaw calls, more hooded crows. Feral pigeons about buildings, whirr of wings, prob collared dove, in pine down from north loop valley. Akiva caught brief snatch of Tristram starling call from somewhere east, we both heard chatter of great spotted cuckoo from trees near bat cave. stone curlew later, after dark.

Sun 4 March

Garden: house sparrows, laughing doves, bulbuls, blackbird. Hooded crows and jackdaws heard. Feral pigeons about, ring neck parakeet.. uncertain, did hear some psittacine calls. No sunbirds.

Buteo with wing 'windows' flying over from A Ram to over neighbourhood, relatively brief glimpse. Great spotted cuckoo calls in eucs by look out corner, stone curlew brief call from direction of hidden watercourse.

Half a dozen gazelle, 4 on far south east slopes of hill north of gazelle field, near the confluence. 1 individual near central trail, didn't see much detail but got impression a relatively young one. In Pistacia grove adult male watching us at edge near pines, he headed back and I think it was him we saw again near top of shepherd's trail when we turned off hill to head back down towards east watercourse.

East watercourse is flowing and work has been done at look out corner to make sure it drains properly into watercourse on gazelle field without flooding the field by the bunker rubble where there are now many saplings. A row of slabs on upstream side of central trail serve both to halt erosion and as stepping stones. We really appreciated these efforts!

LOTs of linnets in small groups twittering over, singing blackbirds various places including our or neighbouring garden, black redstart at bunker rubble, stonechat, female over towards small olive tree grove, chiffchaffs in pine canopies, Prinias loud vocalization here and there. Several swifts over edge of neighbourhood but not screaming.
Eurasian jay in pine. No calls of Syrian woodpeckers today.

Mon 5 March

fox approaching cistern along track, black redstart on bunker rebar, stonechat on scrub near cistern pine; robins, some calls, one in tree by north watercourse over from where trail from north road comes down. linnets, none in linnet tree but small groups passing over before sunset. kestrel, flew from hill to north to over neighbourhood; sparrowhawk over open north watercourse; chiffchaffs calling in pine canopies; ring neck parakeet in tall trees behind look out corner, called and headed fast to neighbourhood.

Most interesting. big lone stork job circled over east valley for a while before coming down somewhere to NE of us as it grew dark. Immature black? Lost touch with rest of flock, unusual to see alone. Not snowy white enough for white stork but seemed pale under.. no red but that hard to tell in silhouette... as it came down bill definitely looked longer than that of crane. Got some pics but poor definition in available light.

Tues 6 March

garden earlier: house sparrows, laughing doves, various sunbird calls, farther off, jackdaws,
also about, feral pigeons, and hoodies about valley and neighbourhood as usual.

half a dozen gazelle, females, well grown young, grazing out in the open, north field, by twin pylons, beyond watercourse.
swifts, over, about tall buildings up in neighbourhood. Heard calls, then we saw kestrel flying across east watercourse high, to those buildings.

ring neck parakeet, trees behind look out corner again, black redstart, on rebar at bunker rubble same area; stonechat, scrub around cistern pine; chiffchaffs, pine canopies thin contact calls as usual; great tits much scolding in relatively young pines in hoopoe area at same time strident chiffchaff alarm calls so something was bothering them but didn't see what .Was a pair of Eurasian jays about. Strange squeaky song in bunker pines.. didn't see what but recalled odd jay song I'd witnessed years ago. Was at least one jay in the tree at the time so possible. bulbuls calls near Shadiker hyrax colony, graceful warblers, calls around forepart of gazelle field; linnets, twittering of small groups going over now and again; chaffinches, in young pines, Tristram's starling, calls somewhere not far from pumphouse. Hawk over from north, nonedescript brown with paler stippling, no noticeable id features such as wing or tail bars but looked smaller than regular Buteo, larger than usual Accipiter.

several different types of clover blooming now - small white flowers, smaller leaves than those of white clover.. like miniature of that. Also the dark purple 'spiny' variety.

Found roadkill hyrax on valley road, used opp. to photograph feet and ear.. will post in blog. Couple of adult hyraxes active in boulders of Shadiker colony.

Wed 7 March

Garden: male sunbird active in Bauhinia earlier, house sparrows, laughing doves.

5 linnets in the 'linnet tree' today, some twittering. Jackdaws and hooded crows about as usual. graceful warblers about, stonechat pair active low on trail from north valley road to north watercourse dirt road. Sparrowhawk flew over shaft to south. Black redstart not at rubble but probably spooked by people there just before us. Swifts aloft, still none screaming. Syrian woodpecker north watercourse area, collared dove on line, chiffchaffs in pine canopies as usual.