Sunday, March 02, 2014

(Ammoperdix) heyi heyi heyi...!

25th February
A scattering of migrants were trapped during the morning giving us signs that birds were on the move including three Savi's Warblers Locustella luscinoides חרגולן זמירי, an Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida שיחנית קטנה and a few each of Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia currucaסבכי טוחנים , Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus קנית קטנה and Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenusקנית פסים 

Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida שיחנית קטנה 
Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus רמית
Overhead passage still refused to really get going although groups of Pallid Swifts Apus pallidus סיס חוורוור passed north throughout the first half of the day along with 4 Steppe Eagles Aquila nipalensisעיט ערבות , two Steppe Buzzards Buteo buteo vulpinusעקב מזרחי , a migrant Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosusזרון סוף , a Snipe Gallinago gallinago חרטומית ביצות and two Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis פיפיון שדות. Other bits and pieces included 5 Caspian Terns Sterna caspia שחפית כספית and an Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellinaסלעית ערבות .

--- I want to ring Swallows. I really do. We had everything prepared for a nice Swallow catch on the evening of February 25th, lots of excitement, high expectation.. While on migration, Swallows often gather into flocks of thousands when intending to roost all together. The sight of such flocks - hundreds or thousands of small, dark, metallic, glossy bodies flying all as one unit of arranged mess is something I eagerly wait for every spring, every autumn. On the 25th we were missing only one thing- the Swallows. We had to change our ringing plan and go birding... What a pity--- (Y.L.) 

An evening walk around the scattered bushes near K19 was fairly quiet until a magical Acacia tree was found which contained:
a stunning male Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothoraxסבכי קפריסאי ,
a female Ruppell's Warbler Sylvia rueppelli סבכי שחור גרון 
and a male Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala סבכי שחור ראש 
all showing well together – much better than a burning bush in the promised land! 

26th February
A breezy morning saw ringing numbers drop accordingly but the session was certainly highlighted by a brilliant pair of Sand Partridges Ammoperdix heyi קורא מדברי caught in one of the Heligoland traps mid-morning – although fairy common in the surrounding area they are rarely trapped here at IBRCE.  

Sand Partridge Ammoperdix heyi קורא מדברי

Sand Partridge Ammoperdix heyi קורא מדברי

Male Sand Partridge Ammoperdix heyi קורא מדברי

Sand Partridges Ammoperdix heyi קורא מדברי

There was a fine array of birds seen around the station through the day including a Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides בז מדברי possibly attracted by the increased hirundine numbers, another Pallas's Gull Larus ichthyaetusשחף עיטי , a Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis חוחית tagging along with a sparrow flock, a Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicusחיוויאי , an Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellinaסלעית ערבות , now two Water Rails Rallus aquaticus רלית sneaking around the pond and 10 Slender-billed Gulls Chroicocephalus genei שחף צר מקור on the salt-ponds.

The main feature of the day, migrants wise was a notable increase in hirundines with 300+ Swallows Hirundo rusticaסנונית רפתות  seen around the pond with 20 Red-rumped Swallows Hirundo daurica סנונית מערות, 40 House Martins Delichon urbica טסית בתים and 20 Sand Martins Riparia riparia כוכית גדות joined in; this prompted us to attempt a catch in the evening which proved successful with 40 birds caught in the reeds.

Happy team- Enjoying the awaited Swallows ringing!
27th February
A single Savi's Warbler Locustella luscinoides חרגולן זמירי and a couple of new Lesser Whitethroats Sylvia curruca סבכי טוחנים were the migrant highlights of the morning ringing session; a Little Crake Porzana parva ברודית קטנה was seen randomly running across the road by the station, a Quail Coturnix coturnix שליו was flushed from near the pond while 80 Steppe Eagles Aquilla nipalensis עיט ערבות  and a Greater Spotted Eagle Aquilla clanga עיט צפרדעים passed overhead through the morning.
            A Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola זמירון was feeding low down around the edge of the pond in the afternoon with a Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus פיפיון אדום גרון  overhead before a good selection of gulls and other assorted bits came into roost on the salt ponds with:
5 Baltic Gulls Larus fuscus fuscusשחף שחור,
3 Heuglin's Gulls Larus fuscus heuglini שחף סיבירי
and 20 Slender-billed Gulls Chroicocephalus genei שחף צר מקור
with 75 Armenian Gulls Larus armenicusשחף ארמני

while the white morph Western Reef Egret Egretta gularis לבנית ים סוף from Northern Beach flew in at dusk and 22 Kentish Plovers Charadrius alexandrinus חופמי אלכסנדרי were also new in.

Western Reef Egret Egretta gularis לבנית ים סוף
by D
enes Laczik 
28th February
The British and Hungarian contingent of the IBRCE team took advantage of the high number of volunteers coming for the weekend and headed north by bus for a mornings birding session at Yotvata Fields – we had an introduction to the site the previous night where we were treated to incredible views of a magnificent Pharaoh Eagle Owl Bubo ascalaphusאוח מדברי  casually watching a happily ignorant Egyptian Hedgehog Hemiechinus auritus קיפוד מדבר bumbling along beneath its perch and brief views of our other target species - a fly-past Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius תחמס מצרי.

            In the end it was worth going just for the phenomenal spectacle of tens of thousands of Swallows, Martins and Swifts wheeling around the southern field – to stand in the middle of the field and be surrounded by the birds almost within touching distance was an unforgettable experience!   

Try to identify how many species are in the next pic from Yotvata fields:

By Simon Davies צולם ע"י סיימון דיוויס

There was also the bonus of quality winter birds such as Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula זרעית קטנה and Richard's Pipit Anthus richardi פיפיון ארך רגליים .
plus a selection of early migrants including: 
Cretzschmar's Bunting Emberiza caesiaגבתון אדום מקור
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestrisפיפיון צהוב
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica סלעית קיץ 
and Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg נחליאלי צהוב 
making it an awesome morning.

Back at the station two first-for-season Red-rumped Swallows Hirundo daurica סנונית מערות were the highlight of the morning ringing session while birds seen in the afternoon included the first White Stork Ciconia ciconia חסידה לבנה of the spring, a Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubiusחופמי גדות  and another good selection of large gulls on the salt ponds at dusk – an altogether much nicer experience than sitting at a freezing cold reservoir in the Midlands back in Blighty!

Red-rumped Swallows Hirundo/Cecropis daurica סנונית מערות
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica סנונית רפתות

 Simon Davies,
Volunteer-ringer, IBRCE

Not with feathers but still nice

When traveling in the desert it is impossible to avoid leftovers left by travelers or passing cars on the main road (road 90). When we went to Evrona for watching Sylvia Warblers we ended our observation just in time to collect some pieces of garbage. After shaking a can (to get all sand out with every possible hosted animal) there was still something in. Only after few more  shakings a head of a puzzled Baiuch Rock Gecko Bunopus tuberculatus שממית ערבה glanced over us. We led the poor thing into the next bush and took its problematic home.

A little more of the local atmosphere
Rami, Yotam and Sylvia
רמי יותם וסילביה
It took them some time to be back, ringing at Eilat.. While Sylvia is coming regularly to help with the ringing, Yotam used to be the head ringer of the IBRCE in 2012 and is now serving in the IDF. Due to his obligatory service, he hasn't been ringing at Eilat for about 18 months. Vastly different, Rami hasn't been ringing at Eilat since ringing here with Hadoram Shirihai back in the 80's. That's what we call a comeback!

Yael Lehnardt,
Head ringer & Guide, IBRCE

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