Friday, January 20, 2012

Northern Reinforcements

Northern Reinforcements

Yesterday I was joined by Yoav, Yosef, Ron, Rafi, Avishai, Meidad, Itai and Liron for the third ringing session at wadi Hayon.
It felt quite strange to be "joined" by ringers as Yosef (my supervising A license) who taught me how tell a Marsh warbler apart from Reed, or Yoav who first showed me how to do it right with larks, I was paying back ringing ticks big time…

Since we had such an excellent team we opened 540 (!!!) meters of mist nets (compared to 90 meters in the last two times), however there was just slight (non-corresponding) increase in the number of birds.
Yet we had a very satisfying total of 30 birds:

Temmink's Larks, one of them was a recapture from the first session.
Bar-tailed Larks
Desert Larks
Trumpeter Finches
Spunish Sparrows
And a single Mourning Wheatear (Tick for me).

There was no sign of any Thick-billed Larks today.

While we were taking down all the nets it started raining, not hard enough for a flashflood, but sure helpful to all the drying bushes. Itai and I seemed to be the only ones enjoying the rain; unfortunately the smell of rain in the desert is one thing that can't get through blog posts.

For me the day wasn't over then, I headed with Rafi up north to join Yosef for ringing at aWhite Wagtails roost. We had only few birds because of the rain, but in that same reedbed there are also few hundreds of Spanish (when you don’t catch any) Sparrows,Corn Buntings and dozens of Marsh Harriers roosting so it was quite a show.
We ringed mere six wet birds, but one of them was a Common Rosefinch with very very (very) strange yellow colors, never seen anything like that, photos (of my fingers holding it) on Yosef's blog.

I was too preoccupied (very lazy) to take many photos with so many enthusiastic pro photographers around, so for more cool photos and for their accounts of the day you may visit their blogs:

Ron's website (in Hebrew)

The forecast shows there is good chance for rain on Sunday, but since rain in these areas is usually local and unpredictable I'm waiting with fingers crossed for some flashfloods (and for a Dunn's lark invasion that follows of course…)


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Larks Incorporated

Larks Incorporated

Today Itai and I made another attempt at wadi Hayon to catch and learn more about the larks and other birds there.
After sleeping out in the ‘rather cold’ (3-4 degrees Celsius) area I just barely woke up into the freezing mourning and so made my way to open the nets, this time the birds woke up early and had a nice catch already on the second round: 6 Bar-tailed Larks! Together with one Desert Lark and 6 Trumpeter Finches.
These birds seem to be coldproof to a truly remarkable extent being active so early!
We had close look at every one of them, and Itai noted some differences in the alula and wing colors, we photographed all 6 of them, so this can be considered a start point.

We had some prograss with the Trumpeter Finches, four (out of 8) birds today had retained juv. feathers (and so were aged 2nd year, euring 5), one female had 3 primaries and 2 secondaries, the two others had one retained primary each; one of them also had old feathers in the tail, actually it had only 3 new feathers and one bird had only few old primary coverts.
Really Interesting stuff!
 Old retained primaries & secondaries:
 Odd tail moult. (?)
The rest of the Mourning was spent trying to push the larks around to the nets with little success, we did however caught a cracking male Temminck’s Lark, who really got the better of us today; over 100 were all around. Also present were 10 Thick-bill Larks and a flock of Spanish Sparrows.

 a freaky one (I just cant get enough of them):

During all the wandering around, Itai got this picture of the Temminck’s Larks showing their ability to blend in with the ground: one moment you might see fifty flying just twenty meters away and as they land it seems as at least half are gone, In this photo there are at least 17 maybe 19 that can be found...

Tomorrow we will conduct the annual waterfowl counting held by the NPA (teams will count almost all water bodies over the country). We will be doing Eilat and arava area and the plan is to Itai and Shai to head north to Lotan and start going back south while Dr. Benny Shalmon (NPA biologist) and I will start from the beach and push north, hopefully doing km 20 salt ponds together so probably more updates tomorrow

Have a cold winter!
Yotam and Itai