Sunday, February 10, 2019

South coast

Today I worked with NPA marine rangers on seabird identification near Ashkelon. There were no proper seabirds around, so we made do with gull identification. Can't get any better than that. We spent a bit of time inside Ashkelon NP, then checked for some gull rafts inside the coal depot. At one secluded spot a nice mixed group contained, among the striking Pallas's Gulls, a few other taxa, especially fuscus and heuglini. A metal-ringed cachinnans, metal ringed Pallas's and two darvic ringed fuscus were out there, but frustratingly too distant to read.

Armenian Gull is less frequent down the southern coast compared to the northern coast and northern valleys where it is the 'default' large gull. As spring comes, adults like this gradually lose the diagnostic black bill band. I have seen individuals with a more convincing P3 pattern, but the overall solid black wingtip (very limited grey tongues on P7/8) and deeply hooked bill leave no doubt that it's armenicus:

Large numbers of Loggerhead Sea Turtles were washed up dead or dying on the coast over the last few weeks. This one was washed up on the beach this morning.

Some of the few remaining Mountain Gazelles still roam on the vegetated coastal dunes. Sad to see numbers of this globally Endangered mammal dwindling.

Thanks to Guy (NPA) and his team for a great day out.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

My rosefinch

It's still around, my subtle beauty. This morning it finally posed albeit briefly. Perched for a few snaps and disappeared somewhere - still not familiar with all of its hiding spots. I think I am the only birder who has seen it - a few others tried and failed.

It is interesting (for very few of us, admittedly) to note that this bird has asymmetric tertial moult: On its left wing longest tertial is unmoulted, on right wing it is moulted.

Amidst a few days of unsettled weather, this morning was perfectly still and bird activity was great at my local patch. I had higher numbers than my winter average of Chiffchaff, Bluethroat and Blackcap. A Wryneck that I have seen a couple of times during the winter showed nicely. Reed Warblers are back. Full eBird checklist here.

White-throated Kingfisher

Lots of wildflowers now, including the stunning Blue Lupins.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Hula weekend

Spent the weekend up in the Hula Valley with my wife, my brother and his wife. No kids. Good food, wine, spectacular scenery and a little bit of birding in between.
In the Agamon, Barny is still present - patiently waited for my brother:

Nice to see the beautiful, petite Demoiselle Crane among the 47k Common Cranes, luckily outside the main feeding area:

A crane or two... Always a treat to be on a mobile hide tour

White-tailed eagle

5 Marbled Ducks in Hagome junction fishponds