This morning / last night I went on a special operation with some friends in the remote Negev. I left home just after midnight (no sleep). We travelled for a couple of hours before leaving the paved road and driving into the Negev desert. It was quite a tough and long 4X4 drive, after which we walked into the dark for another hour, carrying too much gear. Eventually we reached our destination - a beautiful and remote waterhole, that attracts lots of birds.
We quickly set a few nets up and waited for the birds to come in and drink. We covered only a very small section of the fairly large waterhole, so we didn't really disturb the birds coming in to drink. Before dawn we caught one Botta's Serotine. During the first hour it was mainly Trumpeter Finches that came in to drink, and later on Sinai Rosefinches took the lead. We also ringed 10 Rock Martins and two baby Sand Partridges. They perform an outstanding moult. They start flying at an age of one week or so; So they grow their first set of remiges very quickly, and start moulting them in several, very rapid cycles. This bird here hadn't finished moulting P1 & P2 yet, and had already started moulting all over again - check the inner primaries:
Botta's Serotine (Eptesicus bottae)
We ringed four Sinai Rosefinches - only juveniles. Such plain but neat birds.
One of 16 Trumpeter Finches we ringed. Again, most were juveniles but we did catch some brighter males.
Ringing was not too massive so I had some time to try and photograph. Light conditions at the waterhole were awful, but still I like the results - really nice reflections:
Sinai Rosefinches - mainly juveniles but some males too:
Some trumpeters in here too:
Making lots of noise:
Drinking was really massive and didn't really slow down until we had to leave at 10:00. I didn't count properly but I estimate something like 200-250 Sinai Roosefinches, and 300 Trumpeter Finches. Superb.
Finally one male rosefinch sat close enough:
Active post-breeding moult
And the gorge from above
After we were done it was the same long way back home; at least it wasn't in the dark.
Many thanks to Yosef, Meidad, Ron, Darren, and Amir for the help and company.