Friday, February 21, 2014

Pouring Rain-ging!


I never in my life thought I'll write it in the IBRCE's Blog but…..the first day of ringing for spring 2014 was cancelled due to rain! Lots of rain!  It was probably brought over by the three lovely girls who came all the way from the Jerusalem Bird Observatory to give a hand - rain is rare in Eilat, much more than Sooty Falcons Falco concolor or Western Reef Egrets Egretta gularis, it rained every now and then through the night before stopping just before first light so we opened the nets, refusing to believe it might rain again.  We were definitely wrong - half an hour later, when 17 birds were in the nets, it started raining.  We ran, took them all out and had to close the nets permanently until the rain stopped.  Surprisingly we were able to open them only the next morning since the rain came in short intervals only.

first (darkish) Lesser Whitethroats Sylvia curruca סבכי טוחנים ראשון לעונה
Among the first 17 birds we had the first two Lesser Whitethroats Sylvia curruca סבכי טוחנים for the season together with Chiffchaffs Philloscopus collybita עלוית חורף mainly.

On the second day we got our compensation- 123 birds of which only 35 were re-traps, species variety was high, especially for our new volunteer-ringer coming all the way from Hungary- Dénes Laczik.  We were not expecting the high variety of Sylvia Warblers- 7 Lesser Whitethroats Sylvia curruca סבכי טוחנים, 4 Blackaps Sylvia atricapilla סבכי שחור כיפה and 3 Common Whitethroats Sylvia communis סבכי קוצים this early in the season.

Two Robins Erithacus rubecula אדום חזה  trapped were on their way back north (we do not have too many un-ringed Robins at the IBRCE during winter, if any) while the first Savi's Warbler Locustella lusinioides חרגולן זמירי of the spring was also caught.

first Savi's Warbler Locustella lusinioides חרגולן זמירי ראשון לעונה

Up high we watched 20 Steppe Eagles Aquila nipalensis עיט ערבות, tens of Pallid Swifts Apus pallidus סיס חוורוור and tens of Swallows heading north.

The weather returned to normal in February - warm and sunny with a chilly wind.  Thanks to this lovely weather both the already-feeling-at-home team and Simon Davies who joined overnight had a slower yet still varied ringing session with many Asian oriented species including two Palestine Sunbirds Cinnyris osea צופית, Dead-sea Sparrows Passer moabiticus דרור ירדן, some Graceful Prinias Prinia gracilis פשוש, Indian Silverbills Lonchura malabarica כסוף מקור הודי keeping the northern European ringers entertained.

Male Dead-sea SparrowsPasser moabiticus זכר דרור ירדן
Female Dead-sea SparrowsPasser moabiticus נקבת דרור ירדן

 Female Dead-sea Sparrows with interesting coverts pattern- half female half male likePasser moabiticus נקבת דרור ירדן עם דגם סוככות מעניין- חצי נקבי רגיל וחצי המזכיר את הדגם הזכרי
Male Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis פשוש זכר
Visible migration was also productive as we watched a flow of raptors overhead including: 250 Steppe Eagles Aquila nipalensis עיט ערבות, two Booted Eagles aquila penata עיט גמדי (one of them is wintering around), a Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus זרון סוף (wintering as well) and a Kestrel Falco tinnunculus בז מצוי.
Swallow-wise we enjoyed hundreds of House Martins Delichon urbicum טסית בתים and Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica סנונית רפתות while the first two Red-rumped Swallows Cecropis daurica סנונית מערות of the spring were also seen.

Slowing down…very few birds were ringed and seen around today (about 50 ringed through the morning). Despite the low quantities of song birds raptor watching saved us as over 350 Steppe Eagles Aquila nipalensis עיט ערבות drifted north joined by two Imperial Eagles Aquila heliaca עיט שמש and the wintering adult Bonelli's Eagle Aquila fasciata עיט ניצי put in an appearance as well.

Not with feathers but still nice- 

The volunteers camp always attract snakes, I have no good explanation for this given fact. The only snake we've seen around so far was found just next to volunteers-room. It is called Schokari Sand Racer Psammophis schokari
ארבע קו מובהק. In Eilat they are in their light coloured morph and not dark gray as seen in northern Israel. 

Schokari Sand Racer Psammophis schokari
ארבע קו מובהק

Schokari Sand Racer Psammophis schokari
ארבע קו מובהק

Yael Lehnardt,

Head ringer & Guide, IBRCE.

Edited by Simon Davis.  
Pictures by Dénes Laczik and Yael Lehnardt.

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