Sunday, May 13, 2012

May continued

Cricket - Gryllodes hebraeus.. under rock near top of shepherd's trail.

Found these close to north watercourse dirt road on hill side, on Sunday 13th, a whole patch of them standing about 10 inches high. Have not seen these before.

Saturday (Shabbat) 12 May

Swifts hawking over Pistacia grove , ring neck parakeet chased hoodie out of euc by east watercourse, just south of central trail.

about an acre of ground burnt by brush fire each side of valley road from ramp to back of houses to central trail, and further north along the bank, the tamarisk crowning the drain badly damaged.

Hoopoe on ground on terebinth grove, flew up and returned a couple of times.

No sign of bee-eaters last few days but sounds of juvenile great tits in various places commonly heard over last few days. juvenile graceful warblers I assume calls from bank on the way to pumping station.

Bulbuls very vocal gardens, around edges of neighbourhood, blackbird song on and off last few days also. Sunbird calls esp. gardens or not far from neighbourhood. Hooded crows about, foraging over burnt area as they often do. Jackdaw calls. Feral pigeons about roofs. House sparrows as usual, small groups heading out of neighbourhood to forage for grass seeds.
Chukars along north watercourse seen, heard.

Sunday 13 May

Bulbuls, calls, active. Blackbird: some calls, song. Sunbird.. calls in gardens late afternoon. Hoodies.. about as usual and one mobbing a long legged buzzard that was flying over NE field and some almost kestrel like hovering into the wind. (light WSW winds) , Some jackdaw calls, some feral pigeons about.

2 hoopoes seen by young pines near look out corner, ring neck parakeet call from usual euc by north watercourse, some greenfinch calls by look-out corner and also near pumping station. Nice view of fully plumaged great spotted cuckoo by north watercourse, flew from shaft area into trees by watercourse... from place where we later saw hoodie foraging so seems to be this year's chick but already fully plumaged? Some calls from over near bat cave, hobby or some other falcon. Band of house sparrows foraging in hoopoe area for grass seed, one male repeatedly calling from lower branch overlooking them.. warning others of our approach?

no bee-eaters or swifts heard or seen today.

Seen flowering for first time.. some Marrubium, very small flowered type, dense rosettes by ruins by east watercourse, some Eryngium turning blue though most still olive green in colour. A few caper flowers seen for first time.

collared dove coos, flight call, threesome chases, turtle dove coos.

Some hyrax activity. Yesterday heard hyrax calls from direction of new building site between Pisgat Zeev and windsurfer hill area.. moving into new loose boulder sites below building? Potential for two or three new colonies along lower edges of building there.

Gazelle: 4 up from bat cave, 2 near central trail, adult male and left horn female, 2 others up from east watercourse dirt road.

Monday 14th May

5.30 p.m. here in Jerusalem.. Just under 21 degrees C, humidity 52% and falling, wind 1.7 knots from WNW ..

great spotted cuckoos one by north watercourse calling somewhere up in a tree while crow foraged in ground, other in bare tree east side of Pistacia grove,

a few grazing gazelle up in north field and male and 'the left horned female by east watercourse, two white storks (surprisingly) in the north field; ring neck parakeet at least one, probably more in euc by east watercourse , turtle and collared doves cooing, a calling falcon calling repeatedly in trees near bat cave, but longer call, not shrill fast hobby call, singing blackbird by east watercourse, and alarm call, and lots of the usual activity from great tits and graceful warblers calling, young calling and so on.
Syrian woodpecker call, hoodies and jackdaws about,

Garden: house sparrows, laughing doves cooing.

16 May Tuesday

It's almost 6 p.m. weather? hmm let's see.. ~23 degrees C, humidity ~50% and rising, wind very light from the north west skies totally clear.

couple of fledgeling great spotted cuckoos about again, one in trees by north watercourse near where trail comes down from north bend valley road, other by Pistacia grove. Consistent. Also consistent lately: sightings of left horned female gazelle and adult buck in east valley pine forest, watched Jay feed young in euc by east valley, close to ones which ring neck parakeets use. Again hoodie chased out by parakeet but at another time hoodie perched there .. they do like those trees and parakeets can't keep them out all the time. More blackbird song,
a few gazelles grazing in north fields,

globe thistles starting to bud. In garden: house sparrows and repeated melodious sunbird calls shortly after sunset.

Wed 16 May

It's almost 5.40 p.m. just over 21 degrees C, sunny with a few fluffy clouds, humidity just over 50% and falling, wind gusting, mostly from west.

couple swallows zipped by us lower edge of neighbourhood, lots of fledgelings about: graceful warblers prob. by north watercourse, great tits in small pines and ground foraging by sapling field near pumping station, bulbuls various places, great spotted cuckoos , calls by north watercourse. . Also Syrian woodpeckers, collared doves, turtle doves and others all active and vocal, male greenfinch feeding on thistle seeds near service road, young pines.

Several gazelle seen grazing in wood (adult male, by ascent to windsurfer hill) and fields, at least 5 females and well grown young up from bat cave, hyrax by valley road, adult on rock. and what day is complete without saying ''hello'' to a hyrax sittin' on a rock!:)

variety of high pitched sunbird calls in garden towards sunset, house sparrows and laughing doves as usual.

More Erygium turning blue, much of the shrubby restharrow producing little beans, viper's bugloss still blooming, more capers blooming.

thurs. 17 May

it's about 10 mins before 6 p.m. almost 29 degrees C, 19 % humidity, light westerlies.

with temp jump, cicadas buzzing in the Pistacia orchard today, first time heard them there this season though have heard some buzzings in our bauhinia in the past few weeks.

a number of great spotted cuckoos about, perhaps 4 individuals.. turtle doves, collared doves both cooing, swifts over edge neighbourhood, Syrian woodpeckers active, Jays family in young pines near shaft, calls and activity from a couple of great tit family and graceful warbler family by east watercourse dirt road.

. male gazelle chasing female by north watercourse.. she crossed before us on road and headed up slope towards owl glade.. two small boys ahead of us scared the buck and he turned about, headed down to north watercourse.

and hyraxes out on the hillside with lots of kits.

18 May, Friday

4.45 p.m. and a sunny ~24.5 degrees C out..

house sparrows, laughing doves, bulbuls in garden, latter calling from just before light.

bands of house sparrows still roaming fields for grass seeds.

delighted to watch a small group of bee-eaters calling and swooping about low over north facing hillslopes, on our way down to north watercourse.. a short while after, a long legged buzzard being pestered by some hoodies up on top of hill opposite.. hobby calls from direction of trees by bat cave, a great spotted cuckoo fledgeling calling to be fed in the eucs below by watercourse . A little later sat in woods just to west of almond tree field - and then, after sitting patiently in the lower woods listening to turtle doves, collared doves, Prinias and cicadas, the occasional Syrian woodpecker call rewarded by the sight of a roller , stunning bird, sitting on branch at the edge of the wood.. unfortunately was unable to approach close enough for a pic.. he took off in his big blueness and headed off 'upstream'. Eurasian jays also about in many places, and greenfinches but they were not so prominent.

Sat 19 th May

2 hoopoes on ground on dirt road by service road young pines.. frequent place for them. Turtle dove coos,

Sun 20th May

great spotted cuckoo flying by north watercourse... gazelle grazing on hill near bat cave.. kestrel call behind bat cave, hillside, falcon, prob same, flew to electricity post mid field. 2 gazelle near central trail, a buck and a young female but not together.

collared dove coos, various doves about, didn't hear turtle doves, not sure if I saw. Greenfinches already twittering near look out corner, some blackbird song on our way down, great tits in many places , various calls including from fledgelings, brief view of bee-eater heading 'downstream'' over north watercourse. Brief view of hoopoe near shaft, jays about, some glimpses, a call, Tristram's grackle calls on the way back.

Monday 21st May

Adult roller noticed by young pine forest by service road.. flew to sapling tube and perched there for a while , gave us beautiful view.

Turtle dove coos and some collared dove coos heard in lowest part of woods, feral pigeons and laughing doves about the street.

Hobby seen flying over cistern area.. first noticed clearly adult bird, second.. they flew out of same tree, seemed a touch smaller, much less definite markings.. likely a juvenile.

Gazelle: several in various places, adult male Pistacia grove as usual, headed up into cypress up hill from there.

Small group chukar partridge open fields/lower slopes south east of area

Hoopoe in tree near north watercourse.. another seen by east watercourse dirt road near lower end of shepherd's trail.

Calls of young: great tits, great spotted cuckoo, latter from direction of owl glade.

House sparrows garden and small parties at edges of fields.

22 May

pleasant walk..

great spotted cuckoos very vocal and active.. 1 by north watercourse .. centred in trees by bat cave but flying about.. other at Pistacia grove.. also saw there family of hooded crows.. youngsters still showing gape flesh.. calls, couldn't tell if from young crows or from cuckoo.. would make sense if calls similar.

greenfinches twittering by valley road, lots of swifts still, group flying about edge of neighbourhood over ramp area, watched a couple of kestrels 1 hovering north ridge.. other flying to tall building up hill in neighbourhood, up from pumping station, chukar on hillside

looked for roller but no luck,

photographed a few invertebrates: spider, cricket, moth, robber fly, beetles.. main flowers blooming now are capers (in pic) yellow centaury and Achillea, (yellow yarrow). Globe thistles growing, blooming soon.

23rd May

~6 p.m. just over 20 degrees, humidity 37% and rising, very light westerlies..

lots of hyraxes, Shadiker colony many young; gazelle buck in north field; hobbies chasing hawks off their territory, at least 4 Buteos about.. falcons flew up and tried to engage them high over north watercourse for a while, turtle doves, cooing and pair foraging on the ground near us near shaft, greenfinches twittering, Prinias various calls, blackbird song. bulbul vocal near trail down to north watercourse dirt road.

Also lots of hooded crows about, jays, including fledgelings, jackdaw calls heard from house.

24th May

~5.45 p.m. outside, the usual sparrow convention, occasional calls of jackdaws, cooing of laughing doves and a short while ago, a Syrian woodpecker in one of our neighbour's trees. ~23 degrees C, humidity, 42% and rising, winds light, nw ish.

lots of this in the fields now..

several gazelle grazing and browsing on hillsides and in pines near trail down, a buck apparently nibbling thorny burnet shoots, another grazing on coral gum leaves, also: great spotted cuckoo, a family of (chukar) partidges, by watercourse east side of gazelle field, turtle dove coos, Prinias lots of calls from north field, great tits, foraging in saplings east side of north field, by watercourse, brief glimpse of roller flying into cistern pine (Akiva saw blue, but we can't rule out it might be white breasted kingfisher which also liked cistern area though we haven't seen one for months.. most probably a roller.. didn't see more unfortunately) ,

Buteo over, lots of hooded crows, collared dove coos,

Pomegranate trees also blooming, with wild carrot, golden thistle, capers and such

Monday 28th May

reached about 32.5 degrees C earlier this afternoon but on our walk, about 27 or28 degrees

quite warm!: singing blackbirds (regularly last few days), cooing turtle doves, shrilling cicadas. Lots of hyrax babies (Shadiker colony) , and gazelle buck let us get within about 30 metres.. they seem quite used to us! Also, bee-eaters, (group calling over valley, flying to and fro) hoopoes,(1 by central trail, another by rock flats), ring neck parakeet, (usual place, eucs by east watercourse) . Had swifts yesterday, lots, screaming and feeding (lower edge of neighbourhood) but none noticed today.

also graceful warblers, jackdaws, hoodies, Eurasian jays, graceful warblers, house sparrows , one band particularly liking 'hoopoe corner'. Syrian woodpeckers yesterday in Eucs but not today. Great tit fledgelings about a lot lately. Calls of great spotted cuckoos

kestrel yesterday above bat cave.. today falcon calls that direction but not sure which.

large Buteo type hovering over north edge near A Ram a few weeks ago may have been short toed eagle as they do the kestrel trick.. was light enough underneath.. not sure if any Buteos can do this and other light buzzard, honey buzzard, wouldn't normally be seen by itself.

Adesmia beetle found and photographed. cicadas,

29th May

5.30 p.m. ~22.5 degrees C, humidity over 70% and rising, brisk westerlies.

walked up to saddle betw. north watercourse and hidden watercourse

several gazelle of bachelor herd,

watched kestrels, female and juvenile in cypress, glimpse of another falcon, brief but looked like peregrine, size, back colour lighter than that of hobby, clear moustache mark, not streaked under, but so quick hard to be sure

also some imm. great spotted cuckoo calls, bee-eater melodious calls overhead, great tits, Prinias, Eurasian jays, yellow vented bulbuls..

couple dead hoodies, no sign injury, if a third may report.. Nile fever about? We have also seen a few dead pigeons lately.. random places.. (not dropped under tree by raptor) .. spread by mosquitoes, affects elderly, can't catch it from dead bird but their presence acts as indicators.

Wed 30th May

~5.30 p.m. ,it's just over 22 degrees C, humidity over 50% and rising.. wind just over 5 knots from the west.

clear skies.. over north fields falcon pair chase off Buteo, grey backed, prob the bat cave hobbies, on hillslopes mother and young gazelle. Two subadults and, separately, adult male seen up slopes by east valley,

hoopoe on valley road picking on charred area.. most of the bank burned recently, damaging some acacias and the little castor oil bush, ring neck parakeet group in eucs, at least four, turtle doves crooning along east watercourse as blackbirds sang, Prinias, great tits, lots of Eurasian jay activity, bee-eater calls over-all.

Thursday 21st May

about 5.45 p.m. just over 25 degrees C, humidity 38% and falling, wind, ~7 knots from the west. clear skies

more and more grasshoppers about the fields now.. also watched various falcons hunting over the hillside, kestrel pair hunting low, also pair with very grey wings perched top of cypress near bat cave, outside primaries darker.. but grey seems lighter than that for hobbies.. again inclined to say we have peregrines. Moustache stripe clear, but would love to have telescope esp since no doubt we have immature hobbies and variations.

a few gazelle about 1 buck by watercourse east edge of open field, a few females and subadults about, some hyraxes out

Syrian woodpeckers vocal and active esp along almond row, young pines, several hoopoes in the young pines, jays along north watercourse, turtle doves cooing around north dirt road turn off, , a few bee-eaters seen and heard flying over both valleys. Masked shrike in tree by north watercourse in grove.. great tit families about, graceful warbler chimes. chukars in north fields. Jackdaws, hooded crows about. Collared dove coos. Some greenfinch calls and twitters in usual area. Neighbourhood: laughing dove coos, house sparrows.

Still NO satisfactory views of wheatears this year.. in past years was not so hard to find the male eastern black cheeked, pied colouring easy to spot at a distance but no luck this spring and summer.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 1st week

Colias crocea , clouded yellow.. photographed in oat field in purple Phlomis vale on 6th.. most other butterflies seen are clouded whites with occasional Satyrids and a few smaller jobs I haven't had good views of yet.

Purple Phlomis found in field on 6th notably different from those we've photographed in the past here.. which had longer , sparser flowers and yellow/orange underflowers.. different strain in same field? We didn't see any of those today.

1st May

garden: house sparrows, bulbuls, laughing doves, sunbirds all active and vocal.

lots of yellow centaury blooming on hillslopes and in the valleys now.. the pure yellow variety, none with purple seen yet.

great tits busy foraging for their families in various places, brief glimpse of blackcap in same habitat, ring neck parakeet calls from the eucalyptus, Syrian woodpeckers very vocal in various places, a few dark Buteos about, hooded crows. Eurasian jays active but quiet, Graceful warblers heard. Collared doves about, some jackdaw calls. Turtle doves and bee-eaters not heard. Still no black eared wheatears though did hear call of something in east field.. no luck finding.

three young gazelle in small olive grove. another near east watercourse.. feral cat walked close by , did not bother it at all.

More bugs of various kinds, more caper foliage, Verbascum slowly blooming, most milk thistle gone to seed and fleabane also.

Wed 2nd May

Quarry : Tristram's starling .. four birds about the building ruins on the south side.. one clearly adult male, one adult female.. one juvenile, dark head and paler gape skin visible.. also harsh calls and soliciting for food , unsteady in flight, fluttery, fledgeling but not confident.. perched in outside top of door/window frame, adult close , protective but not feeding it. Did not get good views of fourth but we'd guess second juvenile if not young helper from previous season.

Much fuss from chukar partridges north slopes

several masked shrike along north watercourse, one clearly seen, at least two more heard.

up in pines on other side, blackcap calls. Great tit family calls, Eurasian jays, hooded crows, swifts above.

Buteo up top across valley near A Ram over edge holding position facing into wind while nearby hoodies had to flap to hold position, the Buteo could keep wings totally still. Either Buteo had best sense of exact location or better control.

Another raptor, sparrowhawk from what I could make out. Also a pair of DUCKS, mallard, male and female, headed over towards A Ram.. where do they go?

Graceful warblers.

6th May .. pics above

temp. just over 25 degrees C on walk, just after 5 p.m. light winds from WNW and relatively low humidity.

On hills, chukar partridge (several on hill crest between north watercourse and hidden watercourse, and a lot of larks singing on boulders up beyond hidden watercourse, or fluttering at least ten metres above the ground repeated harsh alarm calls.. I move away, not wanting to disturb nest when this happens.

No bee-eaters today but some swifts.. a Buteo or two on top of hill, very dark , settling on boulders between low flights, rufous brown chest collar against pale underparts.

Hobby over east field/euc grove area. Also over there were Syrian woodpecker calls, Eurasian jays active, graceful warblers , cooing turtle doves in various places. No greenfinches yet.. they generally start up twittering closer to sunset and we were there earlier but I'm sure they were about.

Flock house sparrows on north facing slopes by olive vale.. acting like wild weaver birds ..we've noticed this in past, flocks taking to fields in May when much grass seed to be had.

Sounded like a whole family of masked shrikes in the olives, many calls, squabbling?

Gazelle: bachelor herd group of 6 plus heading across hidden watercourse and beyond.. group of young and females farther down and to the east, ~8 or more. Very small one spotted farther to the east apparently alone.

7 May

It's almost 6 p.m. (S.T.) temp. 21.5 degrees C, humidity 41%, wind 7 knots NW. sunny and blue skies out.

pleasant walk.. hobbies, (looks like they bred , family by Pistacia grove), 1 in bare tree seemed to be young from colouring, two more arrived and they flew off together. Lots of young great tits about, Syrian woodpeckers, Eurasian jays, blackbirds (in song), graceful warblers, swifts, greenfinches, collared and turtle doves all active and vocal.

8th May

lots of graceful warbler calls and activity now in many places, as well as juvenile great tits everywhere. Also today, Syrian woodpeckers, black capped Eurasian jays, hobbies, chukar partridges, collared and turtle doves, greenfinches, singing blackbird, jackdaws, hoodies, crested larks and such and an agama lizard on rocks just up from east watercourse dirt road.

Several gazelle grazing too out in the fields round about.

foliage of capers, Varthemia, Marrubium well underway. Golden thistle budding in north field.

garden: house sparrows, bulbul, sunbirds, latter at sunrise and sunset esp, calling close to window. Feral pigeons, jackdaws, hoodies.