Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spots and speckles

Spots and speckles

With migration almost in full swing and increasing ringingpower the last days were truly enjoyable days, first on Friday we merely had our first 3 digits morning ringing, the day’s tally (together with a small afternoon session) was 99 new birds and 26 recaptures with ‘firsts’ asIsabelline Wheatear and eastern Orphean Warbler.
The core of the catch was made by 42/4 Chiffchaffs and 14 House Martins.
Apart from birds our first volunteers arrived on Friday tired after making all the way to Eilat fromFair Isle! But after a decent sleep they were all ready to go.

 We also recaptured the Pale scops Owl so there’s another opportunity to show him off
 On Saturday we decided to make last attempt in uvda area, weather was bad very windy with even a short drizzle while we were setting up the nets, unsurprisingly we started badly not catching anything before 08:30, but we had a final total of 16 birds! Including 9 Trumpeter Finches, 3 Temminck’s Larks and a White-crowned Wheatear which made us very happy experiencing desert birds not usually found in the hula valley not to mention Fair Isle

 Birding around was also great with over 200 Temminck’s Larks 40-50 Bar tailed Larksdozens of Trumpeter Finches and 4 Mourning Wheatears but we couldn’t find any Thick bills.

And today we opened the day with a long tailed surprise: a Great spotted Cuckoo, cool bird we don’t catch that often even they are pretty common. Soon birds kept us quite occupied with a nice flock of 18 House Martins together with more Chiffchaffs and Lesser and Common Whitethroats weather was just great, sunny with almost no wind. The sequence of passerine was cut by yet another nice catch: a Spotted Crake! What was surprising about this one was it was trapped in a Heligoland trap! With no water and only trees… birds get dizzy in the desert.
 The cuckoo was a 2nd year birds showing this nice moult in the wing:

Any comments about age/sex are welcomed; we have little experience with this bird in spring time.

I came back for another afternoon swallows attempt, their numbers grow by the day and they are finally starting to roost in the reeds by the nets, today when I arrived to take out the 4 House Martins and 16 Barn Swallows from the nets a Short eared owl swooped over the reeds and went down to the net hovering just a meter away from it! To make sure he won’t be extracting birds instead of me I tried to flush him into the net but without success, first time I have a close encounter with this owl.
 Totals for today mourning and evening combined (new/retrap): 119/28 (147)
Chiffchaff 38/3
Lesser Whitethroat 6/0
Spanish Sparrow 6/1
House Martin 23/2
Orphean Warbler 2/0
House Sparrow 4/0
Barn Swallow 17/0
Blackcap 0/1
Dead sea sparrow 1/6
Whitethroat 10/1
Sardinian Warbler 3/3
Yellow vented Bulbul 1/4
Bluethroat 1/1
Savi’s Warbler 2/1
Collared Dove 1/0
Reed Warbler 1/1
Graceful Prinia 0/1
Spotted Crake 1/0
Sedge Warbler 1/2

Great spotted cuckoo 1/0

 Raptors passage today was slow and also very high, there is some crazy weather ahead (southern winds tomorrow and a storm in the north of Israel on Wednesday) so something should change around


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Never mind the bollocks, here’s the spring!

Never mind the bollocks, here’s the spring!

It’s been two tense weeks; there are great pressures in the leading-up into the season, getting all gear into shape and many other small preparations. But putting anything aside I made an effort to do some ringing this week. So yesterday I tried to catch some House Martins in a roost (just like we do with barn swallows), about 80 birds gathered, but they all disappeared just minutes before dusk, it was frustrating but to compensate when I went to close the nets an angry little Pale Scops Owl was waiting in the net! Cool bird indeed.

The dizzy Scops Owl’s look:
More highlight from yesterday (mourning) were two Rock Martins, Complex birds we rarely ring, I had no time to take good photos because I was already late to another ringing demo so out of 4 pictures this is the best.

This mouring ringing started just great with many Chiffchaffs and some Lesser and Common Whitethroats, some new Bluethroats and Sardinian Warblers, the heligolands provided the real treat of today: a 2nd year Cyprus Warbler! With nice moult and the first real “rarity” to me this spring (expected in this time of year but we don’t catch them often).

After that we had a sight slowdown with only more chiffchaffs trickling in when some passage of Steppe Eagles began slow and low at start because it was pretty cold but nice circling flocks of some dozes kept passing for few hours totaling few hundreds !(I was busy ringing and guiding so had no time to count).
Just as we were furling up the nets a handsome adult male Rüppell's Warbler was caught! 2ndfor this spring so far. Total for today was 62 birds most (c.50%) being chiffchaffs, the first great migration day.

In the park during the last days 400-600 House Martin pass daily, many Quails are jumping from underneath my feet scaring me time after time. In the salt ponds many Black-headed andSlender-billed Gulls feed and roost every evening together with increasing numbers ofRedshanks and Ruffs. Yesterday 15 Palla’s Gulls also passed over the park.

Our first volunteers for the spring are arriving in the weekend (alone no more!!!), combined with northern Israeli ringers (Yael, Ron, Ela and Aviad) coming down to ring you better stay tuned!


Monday, February 06, 2012

Spring vanguard

Spring vanguard

After a two weeks winter hiatus from ringing I finally did some serious ringing at last. All the fixing of the Heligolands and the new nets rides carved in the thicket are paying back and even though few birds are around I managed about 25-30 birds today. So I have any reason to be optimistic! Chiffchaffs are on the move for the last week and increasing numbers of them are of larger abietinus which are more scarce here in winter then collybita.

But the first real migrants for this spring are the Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler caught in the ever green reedbed around our lake, it felt even better with Steppe Eagles passing overhead, some dozes are passing daily now.
Just before closing down completely we had this chunky little fellow, I’ve seen two of then last week, but this is the first Quail to be ringed this spring.
In the afternoon I went birding at the north beach (without nets or rings!), it was very nice not too windy with flat sea and better vision then I expected. In hour and a half I found most of the birds seen here during the last weeks but failed to find anything else. Though two Brown Boobystogether on the same buoy was a great show lasting almost 20 minutes. Also present were 1Kittiwake (2 were found by Gidon Perelman in the weekend) the Common Gull (the one staring in “Avi Meir photo of the week”).
And of course all the regulars: 50+ White eyed Gulls, one Western reef Heron, 2 Pied Kingfishers.

And one out of context: two weeks ago we received this cute Little Grebe after it was found exhausted and confused on the Arava road, yet after just two hours rest he was fresh again kicking his legs around so I ringed him and released him into the lake where he will meet about 10 little grebes wintering at the park, this is by far the cutest birds I ringed in Israel.
 Check out these legs!

Spring is just arriving to Eilat so updates are about to get hot!