Monday, December 17, 2012

Super nana-tural

Haha I'm so funny. Had a fantastic day at Hameishar Plains in the S Negev. This site is really one of my favorites in Israel. Rainfall a month ago led to nice germination of annuals - lots of birds there. Unbelievably, the commonest species was Asian Desert Warbler. We set some nets up and ringed no less than 11 individuals!!! In the field I estimated about 20 birds. This is by far the highest number in Israel ever, and the densest concentration. It's a scarce but regular winter visitor, and Hameishar is probably the best place in Israel to see them, but I have never seen anything like this before. The interaction between Desert Wheatear and Desert Warbler is well known, but this morning every wheatear was followed by a group of three warblers...
They are such great little birds. Those yellow eyes are hypnotizing. And the tail pattern - ahhh... We had two adults and the rest were 1cy's - took us a few birds to sync their ageing out. Note the difference in tertials, rectrices and PC.

Asian Desert Warbler - 2cy+

Asian Desert Warbler - 1cy

We also had three Spectacled Warblers - all males, including this stonking adult:

Spectacled Warbler - 2cy+ male

We did quite well with wheatears - three species:

Desert Wheatear - 1cy male

Mourning Wheatear - 2cy+

Northern Wheatears are very rare in Israel in winter. We had two birds, one of which we ringed:

Northern Wheatear - 1cy female

Scrub Warblers are real sweeties. Surely the Middle-Eastern birds must be split from the NW African population?

'Arabian' Scrub Warbler (Scotocerca i. inquieata)

I was pretty busy ringing all morning, but had a chance to lift my head up from the table and see some birds in the field too. Lots of Spotted and Crowned Sandgrouse flying around. Larks showed well - Temminck's, Bar-tailed, Lesser Short-toed and one Oriental Skylark. Some Tawny Pipits. I even managed to get some half-decent field images of Asian Desert Warbler:

On the way back home we paid the Turkish Black Redstart at Mitzpe Ramon a visit. Now it has a shiny ring on, so we can know if it returns next year. What a superb bird.

'Turkish' Black Redstart (Phoenicurus o. ochruros)

Many thanks to Yosef, Rafi and Meidad for this morning to remember.


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