Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Black-winged Kite Nizzana

This morning I went ringing in an alfalfa field near Nizzana, where the Black winged Kite has been hanging around for almost two weeks now. I was joined by Ron, Elon, Darren and Nimrod. Ringing was busy and with good variety, more about it below.
Anyway, the kite showed up just as we finished setting the last net, and immediately started hovering over the field.

Soon it discovered our mistnets and was very pleased with the new perches we erected for it in the field:

It is such a great bird. Even though I've seen it a couple of times before in Israel, it's always a fascinating bird to watch. Its' hovering and gliding are so unique.
So as I said ringing was good, with 145 birds in total. Nothing groundbreaking but lots of good stuff. Most impressive were Marsh Warblers - we had 16 birds, which is possibly a national record (Hadoram mentions 14 in his book from the 1980's), almost like Ngulia... We had many Reed and Sedge, 12 Savi's, and 16 Willow Warblers. Out of the 24 Yellow Wagtails, four were beema with a very broad white supercilium, pale ear coverts, very white below and rasping 'eastern'-type calls. Other birds of note were three Isabelline Wheatears and a Garden Warbler.
Isabelline Wheatear
While ringing we couldn't ignore the hundreds of sandgrouse that came in to drink in the nearby ponds. Among all four species, 40 or so Crowned Sandgrouse were nice. Three Tree pipts were flying around, my first for the season. After ringing we had a quick look at the ponds after the sandgrouse had finished drinking. The ponds produced three Collared Pratincoles, a Temminck's Stint and three Namaqua Doves.
What a terrific day, and thanks to all the guys for the hard work!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ma'agan Michael

Yesterday I spent the morning at Ma'agan Michael. I joined Itai, Ohad, Yosef and Francis to practice on a new net I am planning to use for gulls in Ashdod this winter. Setting the net was quite easy, and then we had the whole morning to sit around and wait for terns to land in our catching area; of course none did so. But in the meanwhile quite a few birds amused us on the beach.
This moulting adult Sanderling was almost pretty in the golden morning sun.


Among the several hundred terns there were 3 Gull-billed Terns. This juvenile was still being fed by a parent and was often begging.
Gull-billed Tern

While sitting around I wasted batteries and memory space on terns flying up and down the beach. 500 mm is really not the adequate lens for this type of photography.
Common Tern - juvenile
Common Tern - adult

This moulting adult Grey Plover was distant most of the morning but just before we left it got closer.
Grey Plover

I managed to read a few of Yosef's colour rings. First is IKP on a common, then PP on a little.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Night beast

After three years of ringing bloody warblers like an idiot at my site in Ashdod, at last I figured out how to set a net across the Lakhish stream, and started catching some big waterbirds.
Yestrerday I had a very good ringing session. We caught two (stupid) juvenile Night Herons - big beasts...

This is Shlomo my loyal volunteer:

We caught this terrific Pied Kingfisher:

And about 10 Common Kingfishers, that are always amusing to show to the kids:

And yes, I still had bloody warblers, quite many in fact. 6 Savi's Warblers were good. We had an adult Marsh Warbler. Note the short and pale claws, the thick bill and the long and pointed wing:
Marsh Warbler
There were quite a few Willow Warblers, and I expect to get some big numbers of these long-distance migrants in the next few weeks.
Willow Warbler

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Waders in Ashdod

Back to my local patch today - Ashdod ponds. Had intentions to do some photography in the early morning from a hide I prepared in advance, but I arrived and found it underwater. Waders were present in large numbers but very flighty, so didn't get any decent images. Most dominant species were 200 Little Stints and 100 Ringed Plovers. There was a good selection of other stuff too. It was funny to see this Squacco Heron walking across one of the tracks in the early morning light:

I had about five Temminck's Stints, this is a moulting adult. Other adults were in full winter plumage already.

Temminck's Stint
Ruffs are present in good numbers, this morning about 20.

Wood Sandpipers were the commonest Tringa, with about 50. I had five Marsh Sands too.

Wood Sandpiper
I have never taken an image of a Common Myna before, even though it has become a very dominant species in Ashdod in recent years. This is a young bird.

Common Myna
Other good birds were 4 Curlew Sands, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 3 Garganey, and one Citrine Wagtail among the 200 Yellow Wagtails.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back in business

Noam is out of hospital, feeling well, and we are back to normal. Thanks to all those who showed interest.

Today I went with my older son Uri to Tzor'a and joined Yosef ringing there. We got there pretty late but still ringed some Great Reed Warbler, one Willow Warbler, Kingfishers etc. Nice autumn morning. About 100 Honey Buzzards took off from the nearby forest.

In the afternoon I tried to intercept stork migration in the Judean Desert for photogrpahy. I joined Noam and together we had many storks - about 11000 between 14:00 - 16:00, but they were all distant and ridiculously high (2-3 km altitude is my estimate). So no images at all, but even after all those years of watching and studying migration in Israel, watching a single thermal of 5000 storks is an awesome sight. There was good swift action, mainly alpines but 3-4 Little Swifts were hawking insects along the clifftop.

(This image is from 2008...)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Disappeared again

I appologize for disappearing again. This time my excuse is a bit more convincing. My younger son Noam was stung by something (spider?) on Sunday and has been in hospital since. He is OK now but needs a few more days of medical treatment. I've been spending most of my time in hospital (writing this on a computer hospital), and have been unable to twitch the recent Audouin's Gull or Black-shouldered Kite. Hope to get back to my normal life soon. At least the air-con is working well inside the hospital - it was 40 bloody degrees today!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Local dip

This morning I checked a few reservoirs near my house, in search of a Terek Sandpiper seen yesterday evening by Re'a Shaish. The bird was not present despite extensive searching in all nearby reservoirs. All of this searching did not produce too much - 16 Ferruginous Ducks, 30+ Garganey, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Spotted Redshank, 3 White-winged Terns, 50 feldegg Yellow Wagtails, and my first Willow Warbler of the season. All the resrvoirs are so big and the birds so distant that I couldn't bother getting my camera out.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back from the shadows

Spent last week up in the north of the country, away from computers and phones, which was quite good. Saw some migrants - first Redstarts, many Eastern Orphean Warbler, some Balkan Warblers and first flocks of White Storks.
Yesterday evening I was sitting outside in my garden when a Common Sandpiper flew overhead calling - a garden tick for me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Local limicola

This morning paid a quick visit to my local patch - the Ashdod ponds. At last had a good bird there, a patch tick for me - Broad-billed Sandpiper (adult):

Otherwise not too much has changed since Saturday. Black-tailed Godwit still present:

New birds were a juv. Peregrine that spooked all the shorebirds, and a feldegg Yellow Wagtail. The partially leucistic Black-winged Stilt is still present and this time showed a bit better:

Gull ID marathon

After much work, Amir Ben Dov and myself completed editing our gull ID slideshow. Due to its size (108 slides of joy and wonder) we divided it into two parts - part 1 and part 2.
Comments, additions and questions are very welcome!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Shouting in the forest

This hot morning I was ringing at the JBO. This time of the year the pistachio and blackthorn bushes are full of fruit that attract migrant sylvias. These fruit are extremely rich in fat, which is very important for these migrants building their fat tissues up for migration.
Despite the heat we had a relatively good catch with mainly Lesser Whitethroats, Eastern Orphean and Olivaceous Warblers, and star bird of the morning - Olive-tree Warbler.

Olive-tree Warbler
There was one interesting environmental factor that negatively effected our catch in some of the nets near the forest below us. There is a new group of ultra-orthodox jews that do some kind of spiritual healing by shouting! They stand around in the forest (this morning 2-3 females and 2 males present) and shout their heads off for hours! I would call it something like counter-Vipassana... So anyway the adjacent nets didn't catch much. But it's quite an amusing show, daily, for free: Only in Jerusalem!!!