Sunday, June 16, 2019

Summer minimalism

While my head and hard-drive are still buzzing with sights and sounds of Central Asia, back here in Israel reality has been very different. Since I returned I have been absorbed into a super-intensive family situation, that limits my birding to almost zero.
I am still taking part in eBird's Checklist-a-day Challenge. Today is my 176th day in a row of submitting eBird checklists. I know that according to eBird's rules it doesn't need to be every day, a daily average of checklist-per-day is sufficient, but I am challenging myself to have a meaningful birding experience every day. Kind of Bird Therapy.

It is a real challenge to keep birding every day off season. Thankfully, my dog still takes me out for walks very early in the morning to my local patch. It is rather quiet there, and very static, so I need to focus on tiny diversions from the norm. And I appreciate the relative quality of daily average (check this morning's checklist here for example). One day I had an Alpine Swift mixed with my local Common Swifts. Another day a Great Spotted Cuckoo flew over. A late Sedge Warbler was present a few days ago. Little joys. I also invested some effort in finding breeding proof for all local breeding species. For example, nice to see young of the only pair of House Martin in my town now fledged. All in all, this is a tough challenge but early autumn migration is right around the corner - can't wait to see my first Common Kingfisher back!

Whenever I get the chance, I up my birding a bit to some very local sites, where I can bird first thing and return home early. Yesterday I checked Tzor'a - Tal Shahar. Weather was pleasant early on, and there were some birds to be seen. I searched very hard for Rufous-tailed Scrub Robins at a few sites that used to hold them and still look very good, but failed. This species has crashed quite dramatically as a breeding bird in central Israel, and is found in good densities mainly along the Rift valley and in the south. So I had to make do with other fine local breeding birds - Eastern Olivaceous and Clamorous Reed Warblers, large colony of Spanish Sparrows on a huge Ziziphus tree, locally-produced Black-winged Kite, fresh juvenile Woodchat Shrike, many Little Grebe families - not too bad I guess.

Woodchat Shrike

Asian Black-winged Kite made in 2019

Spanish Sparrows

 Little and tiny Grebes

The reservoirs also held a few herons, a couple of Ferruginous Ducks (including this wing-injured male) and a straggler Common Pochard. Here are my eBird checklists for Tal Shahar and Tsor'a Peli reservoir.

Eventually I turned down to look at what most birders do in summer - butterflies. This wee Lesser Fiery Copper was sweet though.

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