Thursday, November 10, 2011

Down south again

This morning I headed down south again, in search of rarities. I never find rarities when I search for them, and today was no exception. To top this up, the morning began at 05:30, just as I arrived at Ezuz, with a phone call from Yosef: " If I have a snipe with pin-like outer tail feathers, does it make it a pin-tailed?". Of course it does. I went over the ID features with him, and woke Oz up to send an RBA out (I knew he'd twitch it so had no problem to wake him up). Great catch by Yosef. Luckily I have seen three in Israel before, including one I've ringed in Nov 1998. Otherwise I would have begged Yosef to bag it for me for a couple of hours until I reached Tsor'a.
Anyway, with great motivation to beat Yosef, I started birding Ezuz. The grove was very birdy, with lots of Chiffchaffs, Black Redstarts and Robins, but even though I tried very hard couldn't find anything good there.
I continued to Kmehin sewage ponds. The ponds were full of ducks (1 Garganey was the only interesting duck) but very little otherwise. I watched from a safe distance the sandgrouse coming in to drink (Spotted, Black-bellied and Crowned), but only some black-bellies flew close to me:

Black-bellied Sandgrouse

A nice bonus was a flock of 15 Lesser Short-toed Larks that made a brief appearence:

On the way back home had a quick look at a small field near Mashabe Sade. It turned out to be the best site of the day - a small field packed with birds. On every sprinkler either a Stonechat or a Black Redstart was perched. Lots of pipits, chiffies, Bluethroats and Skylarks too. I flushed a large thrush from the field. It disappeared several times and kept a safe distance, but eventually I identified it as a Mistle Thrush - a good bird.

Mistle Thrush (200 m away)
Today exciting news was released - a pair of 'Asian' Black-winged Kites have bred in Israel for the first time, and successfully raised 4 chicks! Check this article. They bred right next to the Agamon Hula ringing station. I can take small credit for this discovery, as I, together with Amir Balaban, discovered the nest for the first time in September, and confirmed the breeding. They are such fantastic birds. I hope they stick around for the Hula Festival in two weeks time.

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