Sunday, March 09, 2014

Sometimes, one bird is enough

first female Ruppell's Warbler Sylvia ruepelli 
סבכי שחור גרון נקבה
5th March
Another small turnover of migrants passed through the nets in the morning with the highlights being an always entertaining Hoopoe Upupa epops דוכיפת and the first female Ruppell's Warbler Sylvia ruepelli  סבכי שחור גרון of the spring to be trapped. Other birds in the area included a Great-spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius קוקייה מצוייצת , an Eastern Orphean Warbler Sylvia crassirostris סבכי חורש, two Red-throated Pipits Anthus cervinus פיפיון אדום גרון and a Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg נחליאלי צהוב while wintering Booted Eagle Hieratus pennatus עיט גמדי  and Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinusעקב עיטי  were cruising around.

Hoopoe Upupa epops דוכיפת 
            The rest of the bird news concerned bits and pieces around the salt ponds in the late afternoon where the Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus שלצדף had relocated to while a fine male Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreolaנחליאלי לימוני  was also present, an influx of 170 Slender-billed Gulls Chroicocephalus genei שחף צר מקור were new in and at least 340 White Wagtails Motacilla alba נחליאלי לבן streaming overhead on their way to roost in the city was noteworthy.
            An impromptu evening trip to Yotvata Fields, with IBRCE's team and Tzvika Yador, was again successful with more amazing views of the very showy Pharaoh Eagle Owl Bubo ascalaphus אוח מדברי, this time seemingly unconcerned as a Fox שועל wandered right past him! A Hare ארנבת stood by as well, ignoring both the former and the latter! Incredible.

6th March
beautiful Smyrna Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis לבן חזה
and Simon Davies
Today was the first day for Matt and Teresa, our new volunteers visiting for 1 month from the UK and Spain. Ringing was slow allowing the new comers acclimatize and get used to the site. Their preparations for the 'Champions of the Flyway' bird race have begun already. The highlight of the morning was a beautiful Smyrna Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis  לבן חזה. It is not a usual desert species though they seem to be well adapted to life in Date Plantation agriculture.
Smyrna Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis  לבן חזה
Another Hoopoe Upupa epops דוכיפת made both Israelis and new volunteer-ringers happy. It is not usual to ring them every day here, nor the Kingfisher.

7th March
As it was Simon's last morning, we expected some niceties right after his departure. It seems to work every time!
Right on cue, half an hour after he sat on the bus to aTel-Aviv, we started hearing musical, wader-like whistles overhead. The elegant calls of two Tristram's Grackle Onychognathus tristramii טריסטרמית ים המלח. Next round, despite my claim about how rarely they get ringed at Eilat, they were waiting in the nets!
Tristram's Grackle Onychognathus tristramii טריסטרמית ים המלח

Female Tristram's Grackle Onychognathus tristramii טריסטרמית ים המלח
Tristram's Grackle Onychognathus tristramii טריסטרמית ים המלח
Eastern Orphean Warbler Sylvia crassirostris סבכי חורש and an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida שיחנית קטנה were among the other migrants ringed.
In the evening Roni Vaisanen arrived from Finland. This is his 6th visit to Israel, 5 of which he has volunteered at the IBRCE ringing station so we will be counting on his experience to help guide us to victory in the bird race. The team is all here and needs your support

8th March
The storm in the area continues to drive us all crazy, both birds and birders. Some birds seem to get to the Arava through the sand, rain or winds over the Sahara and Wilat. More Sylvia Warblers are seen around regularly.
During another day of low ringing totals, Roni came back from the nets with one bird only. But just as he said… sometimes one bird is enough! He was absolutely right: a 2nd year male Menetries's Warbler Sylvia Mystacea סבכי אשלים is enough and is exactly 1 more Menetrie's than was caught in the whole spring of 2013. 

2nd year male Menetries's Warbler Sylvia Mystacea סבכי אשלים

2nd year male Menetries's Warbler Sylvia Mystacea סבכי אשלים
2nd year male Menetries's Warbler Sylvia Mystacea סבכי אשלים
While photographing this adorable bird, Liri came by, saying another unforgettable sentence: "You have Menetries's? Well, I've seen something better!"
He, as well, was right. For the last 5 years, at least, I dream to see the most beautiful snake ever: Elegant racer Coluber elegantissimus זעמן יפהפה. Very little is known about this snake species but it is clearly found in southern Arava every now and then, although definitely not on a regular basis at the IBRCE Park.

Elegant racer Coluber elegantissimus זעמן יפהפה
Elegant racer Coluber elegantissimus זעמן יפהפה
A few minutes later, the winds grew much stronger and we had to close the nets early but as satisfied as can be.
Visible migration has simply vanished due to the longest spring storm I can remember. Just an occasional Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis עיט ערבות or House Martin Delichon urbica טסית בתים are seen from time to time to break up the empty skies.

Yael Lehnardt
Head Ringer & Guide, IBRCE

Edited by Matt Slaymaker
Volunteer-ringer, IBRCE

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