During the last days we had really bad weather, strong winds from the south and west, with one serious sand-storm and quite cold temperatures, regardless birds keep pushing north, to the very edge of their physical ability and right into the storm raging in north Israel.
Yesterday a short break in the winds freed few hundreds Steppe Eagles that were probably grounded for the last 2-3 days (there was no passage at all) joined by few Black Storks, even more courageous were flocks of Cranes Heading north, c.200 on the 1st of march at night, and yesterday two more flocks passed during the morning (250+70).
The birds that really seem to suffer the most are House Martins and Sedge Warblers, these birds typically arrive here skinny at best of weather, so with the current situation many are struggling: flocks of martins sit on the ground so tired they can be picked by hand, some weighing less then 12.0 grams! Such scenes are not exceptionally rare in bad weather during the spring, but I never get use to see birds in such extreme condition. And today to add one more danger the first Woodchat shrike was seen picking martins of the trail as easy as it can get, during few hours it got at least 4! Eating only the head and throwing the rest on the ground.
Sylvia warblers are doing better and are on the increase, during the last days the rich variety of birds pass through:
Lesser Whitethroat & Common Whitethroats are probably the most common around with good numbers also of Sardinian Warblers, many migratory birds of Momus Ssp. Without rings (most wintering birds already carry rings). Eastern Orpheans are also on the move presenting interesting moult patterns and their great variation in eye and head color, yesterday we had nice “wave” of Rupells’ Warblers 6-7 birds of all age/sex combinations were ringed. One more CyprusWarbler was ringed on March 1st this time a Female, definitely Sylvia times!
Many more firsts were last days including Eastern Olibvious Warblers and Cretzschmar's Buntings and smart males Redstarts of Samamisicus Ssp. After the Spotted Crake (last post) we decided to give the old crake traps a chance to prove their worth, and surely we had 3Little Crakes in two morning of trapping.
Many waders left the salt ponds when the sand-storm and the strong winds began, yet with good ringing team additional trapping aids were logical and so even with only few birds around I set the traps, results were nonetheless of a good variety (meaning: we caught few birds) but of the small catch Marsh Sandpiper and a Common Sandpiper were especially nice.
Yesterday when I cycled down to the station at very first light I passed as usual through the salt ponds checking the wader traps on the way, when suddenly one bird in the flock of birds taking off got my attention, from that close there was no need in binoculars a beautiful White tailed Lapwing (Lifer! And somewhat of a buggy) was just 15 meters away, it was seen flying briefly three days ago by Hielel over the station, great bird Hielel! It gave excellent views yesterday to all birders up until . Just a great bird.
More pics will be added tomorrow with additional report of what we had tonight in Yotvata (and it’s hot!)