Sunday, May 11, 2014

"Loud Yellow Starlings" f-l-o-o-d

Spoiler ספוילר
I can't believe I'm writing it again, I feel IBRCE is placed at the edge of Tropical Rainforest and not just by the northern end of Sahara desert: This week we experienced days with over 40C, heavy rains, floods, birds... lots of birds. 

It all started on May 4th when temperatures rose and Corn Crakes Crex crex מלכישלו were found exhausted all over: at the IBRCE Park, Eilat city, agricultural grounds of southern Arava Valley.. All in frantic search for food and water, completely exposed. During the next two days it got only warmer and more were found/ brought to us for treatment thanks to some kind people. Clearly not all survived with a lack of 30-40% from their estimated normal weight. Not only Corn Crakes were found but also one Spotted Crake Porzana porzana ברודית גדולה, same same but different..

 Corn Crakes Crex crex מלכישלו
By Jesus Notario צולם ע"י חזוס נוטריו
The positive part included tens of yellow, hyperactive splendid birds- Golden Orioles Oriolus oriulus זהבן. It took a while till they gathered into flocks all around the park but the best was probably on the 7th with 6 in one morning. All together we ringed 24 so far, hell of aeging job considering the fact most of what we had is females (when you seem to find only birds from one sex it is very suspicious, most likely males simply passed earlier; in April).

Golden Oriole Oriolus oriulus זהבן
Adult male זכר בוגר
Golden Oriole Oriolus oriulus זהבן
Adult female נקבה בוגרת
Golden Oriole Oriolus oriulus זהבן
up- 2CY (5) female למעלה- נקבה צעירה
down- Ad. (6) female למטה- נקבה בוגרת
River Warbler Locustella fluviatilis חרגולן נחלים
To adjust some interest, the two last birds ringed on May 5th were River Warblers Locustella fluviatilis חרגולן נחלים. 
All were happy and took some nice pics:

Relating May's routine- species are generally different than in earlier spring:
# As "it should be", we noted regular numbers of Olivaceous Warblers Iduna pallida שיחנית קטנה (a few every day).
# 3 Olive Tree Warblers Hippolais Olivetorum שיחנית זית (good for Eilat), 

Olive Tree Warblers Hippolais Olivetorum שיחנית זית
Olive Tree Warblers Hippolais Olivetorum שיחנית זית
# some Masked Shrikes Lanius nubicus חנקן נובי, 
# last wave of Reed Warblers Acrocephalus scirpaceus קנית קטנה

Mentioning also Sylvia Warblers we've got:
# strong passage of Western populations of Common Whitethroats Sylvia communis סבכי קוצים, 
# A few more Lesser Whitethroats Sylvia curruca סבכי טוחנים after a short drought, 
# A few more Barred Warblers Sylvia nisoria סבכי ניצי as described in the last post 

Barred Warblers Sylvia nisoria סבכי ניצי
Adult male זכר בוגר
Barred Warblers Sylvia nisoria סבכי ניצי
Adult male זכר בוגר
Barred Warblers Sylvia nisoria סבכי ניצי
Adult male זכר בוגר
# and the king of May: Garden Warbler Sylvia borin סבכי אפור in CRAZY numbers- more than double than the average- 224 so far (avr. 111; 100-131 in past 5 years!)

Most of the birds this week were ringed not during the pick of the heat but two days later- when the rain came at night. On the 7th of May we had an extreme rare rain event, usually there is no rain in May at Eilat under no circumstances. Many birds were ringed as soon as we opened the nets but surprisingly rain came again around 7am. Shocked, we closed the nets for 20 min, opened again, ringed many more birds and when heavy rain came at 8:30am we had to close all the nets and evacuate all team members due to the reasonable chance for flood. 

Wet team right after closing the nets: Ute, Sylvia, Roni, Jesus, Melchior.
צוות רטוב לאחר קיפול הרשתות: מלכיור, חזוס, רוני, סילביה ואוטה

To make a long amazing story short we traveled in Eilat mountains for hours, watching it flooding all around, enjoying the downpour, a hale storm, found two fledglings of Hooded Wheatear Oenanthe monacha סלעית נזירה, watched approximately 500 Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus איית צרעים trying to migrate in this insane weather.... No words will describe these sights properly.

We went back to the IBRCE Park in the worst timing... We just finished eating, just enjoyed a quick rest, when the flood from the mountains came and blocked the canal surrounding the ringing station. No way out. It took nearly two hours till the water level allowed us to drive out, shorter than expected due to a very sad event- the canal broke and the water flowed into the Park, washed away nests of birds, major parts of the trails, signs, the main entrance etc. 

The day after, May 9th, combined lots of sadness referring the fact that the IBRCE Park is now closed, months will pass before things will be back to normal. On the other hand, hundreds of passerines landed all around and we enjoyed one of the best ringing mornings so far (when many of the nets remained closed, far in the flooded area). Most of the birds are very thin, with low fat deposits. We hope that in a couple of days the birds will recover, and in a few weeks we'll do our best to recover the public side as well.

זה לא כל כך נעים לראות גן סגור

Yael Lehnardt

Head Ringer & Guide, IBRCE

Not only feathers
One Corn Crake Crex crex מלכישלו was found dead, covered with mucous sticking its neck feathers. Apparently, a snake- Painted Carpet Viper/ Saw Scaled Viper Echis colouratus אפעה מגוון tried to swallow it! When it tried to swallow the body, the size seemed to abolish the feast and the hungry snake had to vomit the Crake. Liri found it soon after. 

A little more of the local atmosphere

Roni Vaisanen, our dear Finnish ringer, finished his two months of voluntary ringing at the IBRCEץ He is now heading back to Finland for his Red Flanked Blue tail Tarsiger cyanurus כחול זנב ringing project and research. We wish him lots of luck and not too many mosquitoes!

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