Saturday, July 25, 2020

Dark morph fishponds

Yesterday I birded Gan Shmuel fishponds. These fishponds are going through the same process as most other fish farms in Israel. Fish farming has become uneconomic in recent decades, and most kibbutzim are abandoning them. Some fishfarms are drying up or are already dried up, creating excellent habitat for marsh birds, for the time being. However, in the longer run we are likely to lose almost all our fishponds, that support wonderful biodiversity, because kibbutzim are looking for alternative uses to their land and water resources, including terrestrial cultivation, solar fields etc. Together with my colleagues, much of our work is dedicated these days to find solutions to this challenge.

Dried-up fishponds - Aquatic Warbler habitat?

Drying-up fishponds - waterbirds galore, Hadera in the background

In the meanwhile, there's habitat there to check, and we have to enjoy whatever birding comes our way. The first productive pond I checked (pictured above) hosted tons of egrets and many shorebirds too, including this dark-morph Little Egret - surely it isn't a Western Reef:

Video taken through Swarovski ATX85, handheld, stabilised

Between the several productive ponds there were quite many shorebirds - Ruff, Tringas and Little Stints, Also Broad-billed Sand, Temminck's Stint and a Collared Pratincole.
Adjacent to the fishponds is Zeita NR, that holds a large heronry - Little and Cattle Egrets, Squacco and Nights Herons, Pygmy Cormorant and Glossy Ibis. Quite impressive audio and olfactory experience.

eBird checklist here.

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