Monday, November 11, 2013

Negev, the Final Frontier

This is the captains' log. Day 854 to the journey.
Sorry for the late posting - my computer crashed and it took me some days to recover it.

It's that time of year again. Smell of sibes in the air. Hula Festival. Martin Garner arrives in Israel.
I was pleased to spend a weekend with Martin. Both the time in the field and the time with my family was great fun. Friday we went to Nafkha farm in the high Negev Mts. It was pretty cold and rainy in the early morning. We joined Darren and Meidad for ringing there. Ringing was pretty laid back but some quality species - this scruffy-looking Yellow-browed Warbler:

And this 1cy Red-breasted Fly:

As the ringing was pretty slow we birded around. Nothing more exciting than another Red-breasted Fly, Brambling, Barbary Falcon etc. On the way out we saw this female 'Eastern' Stonechat. As usual, in the field, no white to be seen in the tail: 

But I really wanted to show Martin what I had already learned, so we trapped the bird. Guess what we found concealed below the uppertail coverts, at the bases to TF?

Yes, you were right - white. So this is anothe female Caspian Stonechat. Interestingly, it had some streaks (dark shaft stripes) to some uppertail coverts. I am sure Martin will write about that when he gets back home.

Mr. Swarovski

Next day we checked the Nizzana sewage ponds, chasing the ghost of a Sibe Buff-bellied Pipit seen there the previous day by Dan B and Rich B. We arrived early and started birding. Good birding with lots of birds. Two more Yellow-browed Warbler, Citrine Wag, some Moustached Warblers and Penduline Tits, two Jack Snipes, Merlin and lots others.
Jack Snipe

This Swallow smells eastern, with the very pallid, frosty look. Reminded me of the swallows I caught at Ngulia (E Kenya) in 2010, that were thought to originate in C Asia.

 Good numbers of Black-bellied, Spotted and some Crowned Sandgrouse came in to drink later on.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse

Late in the morning we found this interesting Water Pipit, that stood out among the many coutellis around. Striking with bold breast streaking, extending back to rear flanks, strong triangular Malar patch, neat wingbars and thin white eyering broken by dark lores. Here is one recod shot - more on this bird to follow:

Today I drove up north to join the Hula Festival. This year, due to my new family commitments, I will spend here only one night. Gave a talk this evening which I enjoyed to, and it was good to meet all the guys. looking forward to tomorrow. Good night.

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