Monday, April 23, 2012

last week or so of April

blooms of Tamarisk over drainage channel by north loop of valley road

north facing slopes north valley .. this one on trail down from valley road to dirt road but others seen in area. To identify.

Cerambyd beetle on milk thistle

Trip to Netanya

23rd April Just leaving neighbourhood, white stork over the road approaching French hill.

into vale saw a number of spur winged plovers flying about by road, just in ones or twos.

One Buteo spotted.

Netanya.. my first views of the feral common mynahs (Acridotheres tristis) close to the sea.. quite a handsome bird in my opinion with melodious calls though plumage drab, crown almost dark blue iridescence and white patch on wing together with graceful sure flight makes it a pleasure to watch.

unfamilar bird in Netanya, never saw this before, got good views flying
about between tops of lamp posts near sea, occasionally visiting the ground.

Loud, clear melodious calls.

slightly smaller than jackdaw, short tail, dark brown back and wings, broad
off- white 'window' across wing only visible in flight. Tail dark but
feather tips and outer tail feathers white. Wings broad, quick, direct
graceful flight.

head from eye level up black, slight blue gloss, faint red eye ring, iris
dark, bill yellow/orange and like that of a cuckoo. chin and underparts
paler than upperparts but not white.

Several individuals about.

Only one gull noticed hundreds of yards out , not high above water, black headed or similar. had black tail tip though mostly white head.

white swallows about, zipping over the area from time to time.

25 April

almost 6 p.m. , soon heading down to the valley to say 'hello' to the hyraxes in the last hour or so of daylight.. weather conditions: 21.8 degrees C, humidity 62% and rising, wind 2.6 knots from the west. clear skies and sunny :)

garden: sunbirds, cooing laughing doves

high altitude clouds, gazelle grazing on the hillside.. watched a pair of hobbies flying about gracefully amongst the cypresses.. we saw at least three falcons over bat cave area.. territorial disputes.. or in latter case could have been chasing away the kestrel that hunts in that area, one did appear more tawny in colour to Akiva.

family of great tits, cooing collared and turtle doves, blackbird in song and the tamarisk tree covered in many thousands of tiny buds.

greenfinch twitters, call of Syrian woodpecker, hoodies about, swift,

also flowering spiny restharrow by the road.

26 th April.

Now some caper foliage appearing, first mullein blooms out, cat thyme germander beginning to bloom and Carmel leek budding up on mid north slopes windsurfer hill.

3 hobbies flying about over east valley..

By Pistacia orchard.. heard great tit fledgelings, heard Syrian woodpecker, blackbird, turtle dove, some greenfinch twitters. No bee-eaters today or yesterday. Blackcaps heard in pines and cypresses by valley road just up from 'cypress slum'. Did see foraging in pine, lower branches and many calls, low 'tic tic' up from north watercourse a couple of days ago, forgot to mention then.

(some hyraxes about but quiet) 4 gazelle in lower east field, females, sub-adults, between small olive grove and cistern-hill trail.

Hoodies very much in evidence but relatively few jackdaws. Dead young hoodie by trail under pines.. do the great spotted woodpeckers eject young hoodies? Likely. Feral pigeons about, flock over edge neighbourhood.

garden: house sparrows, lauging doves foraging and coos, sunbird calls. Some bulbul calls neighbourhood gardens.

Friday 27 April

mid afternoon: sunny and warm (~25 degrees C) , some bird activity, particularly graceful warblers, great tits, blackcaps foraging for food for their families.. some blackbird and blackcap song as well as coos from turtle, collared and laughing doves. Noticed two agamas basking on stones near north watercourse . Feral pigeons, house sparrows, hooded crows, jackdaws also noticed. Bulbuls, sunbirds in gardens. Eurasian jays also in woods.

baby hyraxes noticed in Shadiker colony, adult male gazelle with good size horns in pines near central trail.

Sunday 29th April

garden: bulbul, sunbird from dawn.

just after 5.30 p.m. just under 18 degrees C, humidity almost 80%, wind 3.5 knots WNW. overcast with thin cloud or fine mist.

about half an hour later observed slow passage of about 100 raptors.. light barred under, rufous under shoulders and central parts, terminal dark bar on tail.. light head.. honey buzzards, many immature? Not one single large flock but several loose groups one following another, not high.

Look out corner: blackbird song, greenfinch song, graceful warblers about, turtle dove heard by north watercourse, great tits and their fledgelings calling, some blackcap calls near service road. Eurasian jays active from about shaft area to pine grove by cistern.. calls of fledgeling latter location while adult went down to ground to forage.

leek opening on hillside but only one seen so far this season.

small olive grove.. two females (??) or immatures in mock sparring session, one in particular quite frisky, much back kicking and bouncing around.

Monday 30 April

2 rollers on lines over hillslopes to NE, occasionally flying up and around and down back to line.. hawking for insects ..Then four falcons turned up.. also hawking about above us very deftly.. probably lesser kestrels from colouring, reddish brown, mask just visible, hard to tell much of colouring but given hawking in a group ID seems reasonable. A few Buteos about and lots of swifts esp over edge of neighbourhood, valley road.. as well as families of great tits and assorted other small jobs by north watercourse, very vocal. Masked shrike heard near north watercourse.. blackcap heard near north watercourse dirt road. warblers foraging in acacia.. one flew around.. had size and colouring of one of the Hippolais warblers but got no further info/view.

Syrian woodpeckers heard in Terebinth area, lots of twittering greenfinches around cistern area and pines towards pumping station. Feral pigeons, house sparrows (insect hawking behaviour from top of building), jackdaws, hooded crows, male gazelle following female near central trail.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mid April records

9th April

one turtle dove (first seen of season) on rocks by bat cave.. another top of nearby cypress.. took off, did display flight with no call, turned around. landed on top of cypress again. Lately collared dove display flight with call.

Warm.. saw over 30 gazelle on slopes NE, group of females and well grown young followed by bachelor herd, over 17 adult males, and including a couple of scattered groups.

Roman nettle already has green 'pom poms' in mouth of the large cave over the hill. By there on Syrian thistle found specimen of Cerambyd beetle Agapantha pulifera but did not succeed in getting a decent pic. On others, bush crickets, on occasional Gundelia, green caterpillars (above)

10th April

nice walk.. warm (~20 degrees C) and sky totally clear of clouds. Masked shrike at edge of neighbourhood, Buteos about, kestrels on the hillside, Most Buteos seen have dark terminal tail band, mostly dark, relatively small size for Buteos. One seen over road with no terminal tailband, paler under, think that one is long legged buzzard, Buteo rufinus. At least two falcons on hillside up from bat cave, calls like kestrel though back darker, muddy brown. Didn't get good view of tail.

at least half a dozen gazelle grazing on hill slopes, and finally found a flowering Nigella by north watercourse dirt road.

11 April

lovely walk up the hill across north watercourse.. found bachelor herd of gazelle at top, a dozen plus. they moved on ahead of us, across the hidden wateroucrseA few sub adult males further down hidden watercourse. .. they moved on ahead of us, across the hidden watercourse.

Still plenty stuff flowering from golden drop (Podonosma) to budding aromatic cat thyme germander, campanula, alcea and a wide variety of composites and grasses .. found empty tortoise carapace,

heard bee-eaters, Eurasian jays, great tits, collared doves, more in neighbourhood.. hooded crow, house sparrows.. bulbul and sunbird calling in garden from first light.

15 April

warm and a little humid in the valley, great spotted cuckoos being very noisy.. saw a pair of turtle doves but not cooing, graceful warblers and great tits also vocal as well as a ring neck parakeet up in a eucalyptus. Bee-eaters 12, then 40, and swifts above amongst others. Couple of gazelle on top of hill to north.

17th April

10 mins before 6 p.m. 23.5 degrees C, 20% humidity and very light ESE winds. clear and sunny! bbl!

white storks in north field! foraging spread out , loosely seemed to be in pairs.. at least 16 spread from twin pylons up onto lower and mid hill slopes up from bat cave. After a while headed to pines and cypress beyond and up from bat cave, up on ridge between north watercourse and hidden watercourse , esp on some rather dried out pines, at least 15 landed, more joining at leisurely pace from Phlomis vale.. betw. them and those still on field, at least 20 birds

Akiva noticed one spook a youngish gazelle in the grass which leaped up and in turn spooked the stork, which took flight.

pair of falcons over north watercourse dirt road, one joined by another, smaller, looked slightly aggressive , but could be the male.. silhouette, dark, not kestrels but couldn't tell and no calls... possibly hobbies.

lots of great spotted cuckoo calls, some bee-eater calls. blackbird calls and some song. collared dove coos, flock several dozen jackdaws heading low north near security road to east. Graceful warbler calls.

buildings: house sparrows, feral pigeons, laughing doves

Saturday 21st April

gazelle, on hillside, males females esp up from bat cave on south facing slopes. Hobbies, sparrowhawk spotted heading from neighbourhood to east valley as dusk approached.

bee-eaters, brief call and sighting of ring neck parakeet.

male blackcap foraging in thistles by bunker rubble, returning repeatedly into one of the large pines there, (likely there's a nest up in there somewhere)

some time in the evening heard call thought was our escaped sugar glider.. went out in the garden, Akiva glimpsed medium large bird, quite broad wingspan, flying from street to valley.. repeated calls.. decided most likely to be little owl.

Sunday 22 April

almost 5.40 p.m., weather conditions: temp 21.5 degrees C and falling, humidity 35% and rising, sky clear, pale blue, wind 3.5 knots from the north.

turtle doves, coos now and yesterday finally, collared doves some coos, great spotted cuckoo (Akiva heard near pumping station) , bee-eaters (heard), a white stork (coming into north valley from direction of the large olive grove but probably most staying over there since lots of boys in north valley on vacation) , great tits singing in a number of locations and feeding fledgelings east edge of Pistacia grove; blackbirds in song and active on ground, syrian woodpeckers vocal and active in a number of locations esp young pines by service road, Eurasian jays active in a number of locations and some calls plus in the valley, kestrel over cistern

sunbirds and laughing doves in the garden.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

1st week of April

zoom up on one of Akiva's Jerusalem sage pics (Salvia hierosolymitana)

Below, a beetle that dropped of a gladiolus at edge of east field, near Pistacia orchard.

some kind of sage relative found by trail from north watercourse to north valley road on 2nd.

Below: some kind of borage, found by low dry stone wall Phlomis field.

Below, Campanula amongst clovers.

below and above, would like to get retakes if I can find them again, above, have seen many on west hillslopes, this one near cistern, but so small hard to get sharp. Below, near north watercourse in open.. was trying to get a grasshopper, noticed this interesting tiny flowerhead nearby when I was looking over photograph.

Below, composite, common this time of year but not yet properly I.D. One of Asteriscus, or related?

Sunday 1st April

Temps mild, pleasant

Gardens: sunbird calls, bulbul calls, these vocal also in north valley watercourse. Laughing dove coos, house sparrows, jackdaws, hooded crows .. feral pigeons over.

Jays active, some vocal, some blackbird song. Graceful warblers vocal.

Crossed north watercourse, walked up to 'butterfly glade', saddle between there and hidden watercourse. Saw first Campanula. pic above. Still some Cyclamen.

noticed group of bachelor males on skyline to north, at least 5 males there.

kestrels as has been seen lately hunting on south facing slope, using top of slender cypress up and behind from bat cave as perch.

Below: prob of brassicaceae, at foot of our steps. To I.D. later the flower part shot up, stem elongated taking flowers much further from leaves.. similar to mustard flowers but far smaller.

2nd April

Walked over to Phlomis field. On the way at least 16 adult male gazelle in bachelor herd, at least one was on saddle between the watercourses, as we approached we saw them just across hidden watercourse, grazing peacefully, nearby, group of females and well grown young, at least 5 individuals. 3 more adult males headed north. In olive grove several more including one adult male. Total, about 30 individuals, new record in one day!

Gundelia starting to bloom. Several crimson gladeoli (G. italicus) found edge of Phlomis fields in open though near scrub. Unfamiliar white borage in pic above found near dry stone wall. Some Judean sage about to bloom. Phlomis coming up but no sign of flowers yet. No Jerusalem Salvia yet. Purple clover, yellow flax now blooming and still pheasant's eye, pretty much all known (to me) varieties of clovers, cyclamen.

Several larks active on south facing hillslope, calling on boulders, pi pi pyuuu didit repeated, melodious, also some more trilling calls. Plumage quite smooth, plain brownish, with crest, striations not visible.

Buteo with dark subterminal tail band, at least two in the area. Kestrel active in same area as has been lately.

Bulbuls, great tits, graceful warblers vocal though no great tit song. collared doves, jays active. No turtle doves yet.

garden: calls from sunbirds frequent. laughing dove coos and house sparrows as usual.

5th April First bee-eaters of season seen and heard! 5 flying over north field, younger pine grove area.

Getting warmer! Peak temps now in mid or upper mid 20s degrees C.

8th April

Walked along by north watercourse. Swifts and some bee-eaters heard over the valley, flying quite high.. no kestrels or Tristram's but did hear chukar partridge, collared doves. Lots of calls from great spotted cuckoos. Looked for blue rock thrush and little owl on rubble approaching quarry but no luck.. then pack of feral dogs showed up at the top and made a huge noise. Apart from spooking any birds I decide to move back downstream, farther from their territory .. at a leisurely pace because I didn't want to trigger a chase. Feral dog packs keep a distance when I'm with Akiva but this time I was by myself so they might not be intimidated, and they were a bunch of good size dogs.

Looked for Ciliate Nigella, still no luck but did find quite a few gladioli, one packed with bees, all dopey. Syrian thistle budding, quite attractive to some Dipterans, (body matched Otites grata in Rittner's site but without the marked wings). Also one small stand of budding 'Maccabees' blood' (Helichrysum sanguineum). Hawthorns half covered with blooms, much better than last two years but not up to level of three years ago, not yet at any rate. Akiva succeeded in finding and photographing Jerusalem sage on mid west slopes of windsurfer hill a few days ago. Wattle tree already have covered with yellow pompoms.

Dipteran on Syrian thistle (in text)