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.

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