Monday, January 31, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
The potential habitat for the thrush is huge, and we walked around quite a bit until we got the first glimpse of the bird. He was very mobile and jumpy; during the whole morning we had only four very brief views. Luckily I was in the right place when he showed himself for 20 full seconds! Just enough for me to get four frames. Two identical shots of him perched at about 50 m away. I pushed the ISO up to 1600, and thanks to Canon engineers noise is really bad; hope to edit the images better tomorrow and I will replace them.
Immediately he took off and I got these two lucky flight shots:
Waiting for the miracle to come:
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
First thing in the morning it was bloody cold and totally birdless. As the sun went up and the air heated up, things started to happen. First we found many Bar-tailed Larks and Desert Wheatears, and then we started seeing mobile flocks of Thick-bills. Eventually we found a flock of about 50 feeding across the plains, quite close to the main road. Unfortunately they would not let us approach and all images are large crops.
They are such cool birds! This is a male:
Posing near an attractive piece of toilet paper:
Other good birds we had were one very mobile Asian Desert Warbler, Spectacled Warblers, and Crowned and Spotted Sandgrouse. Jonathan and Liron who were birding another part of the plains had a few Temmick's Larks.
After I got back home hot news of a Black-throated Thrush in the Upper Galilee broke; Great find by Rei and Sachi! Tomorrow I can't make it but hopefully it stays for the weekend.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
A few young Nubian Ibex were loafing around the spring:
After I got back home I got good news about a Penduline Tit I ringed at Ashdod in November (I think it's this one featured in this post) that was retrapped this morning in the Hula Reserve by Dotan of the Hula Valley ringing team, distance of 164 km:
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I spent the last two full days counting raptors. Totals were not bad - 14 species, the commonest being Kestrel and Common Buzzard. I paid most attention to eagles and harriers. This year is terrible for Hen Harriers, and a roost I counted this evening had only 8 birds (compared to 70-80 in a normal year). Marsh Harriers are present in larger numbers; yesterday I counted 86 in the main roost. 4 Merlins were a nice addition to the roost.
Eagles were present in rather good numbers; not Hula numbers but not bad at all. I had a total of 19 Greater Spotted Eagles and 12 Eastern Imperials (which is actually pretty good). I did my best to age each individual. Building an accurate database over the years will allow us to perform population dynamics analyses.
In addition, each bird got itself photographed, in order to identify them specifically, which is very important for counting as they move around quite a bit during the day. Each individual has its own moult and wear pattern. For instance, this bird has P8 on left wing notched, and it's moulting P1, outermost secondary and T1. I saw this bird yesterday near Tsor'a, and today saw it again about 30 km south. I know this is a crap image but it demonstrates this field method well.
Other interesting species were two Bonelli's Eagles, one Booted Eagle, 1 Pallid Harrier and several Peregrines. The reservoirs produced the expected White-headed and Ferruginous Ducks.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
As you understand we caught nothing; the birds just wouldn't come down low enough to get caught. I spent some time trying to photograph them but no results at all - they're so fast! This is how my images looked like:
But this is not totally useless as these pretty spruce branches could make excellent perches for future projects:
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
One of the trip highlights was fantastic views of Sokoke Pipit - perhaps the hardest to photograph of the six Arabuko-Sokoke Forest specialties. We had two of these skulkers walking on the forest floor typically hidden, and then flew up to a tree and sat there totally exposed:
Another good bird at Sokoke was Scaly-breasted Honeyguide:
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Anyway, on Tuesday I had a few hours in the morning to check the famous powerline and its surroundings in the NW Negev. The whole area received very little rainfall and is still exceptinally dry. Birding was OK but a bit on the slow side.
I began with a search for Dotterels. Barak and Eyal found a large concentration a few weeks ago when I was in Kenya. It took my some time to find a group of 39, but as I found them a group of bastard Brown-necked Ravens flushed them, and they flew out of sight: