Sunday, February 21, 2021

Birds and butterflies

This morning I worked at Ma'agan Michael. In short, we are developing there a restoration project, in which we have reached an agreement with the kibbutz to manage a large section of their fish farm for biodiversity rather than fish production. The project is funded partially by Israel Ministry of Tourism. We are now in the 'Before' stage. Through monitoring, we hope to show what are best-practices for wetland restoration. Anyway, today was my monthly visit there. En route to my first point-count location, I drove past the same pond where Little Gulls put on a show last time - today the show was even better, with 19 (!) birds, in perfect, soft morning light - quite enjoyable. I just love them. This seems to be a good winter for them, yet 19 is an exceptional count.

Several more images in today's eBird checklist.

One White-winged Tern was showing the wee gulls how it's done

Birding was quite good, though migration wasn't pronounced yet, only few true migrants - Isabelline Wheatear and some hirundines. On the beach I found this Czech-ringed Black Stork (no details yet):

When editing the photo, I accidentally clicked the 'Black-and-White' button - came out quite nice, don't you think?

On the beach there was a nice gull gathering. I kept my distance not to disturb them - they suffer enough disturbance on this busy beach. Good numbers of Pallas's Gulls, quite a few Caspians (sorry for the poor footage):

On the rocks at the mouth of Taninim stream, a shy Bar-tailed Godwit was sheltering from the wind, Eurasian Curlew did its thing and there were a few Greater Sand-Plovers already getting into summer plumage:

Butterfly season has started here. After I was done at Ma'agan Michael, I had just enough time for a quick look for a special butterfly on a hill nearby. The hill is home for Levantine Vernal Copper, one of 14 protected butterflies in Israel. It is specific to Milk-vetch Astragalus macrocarpus, a rare and threatened plant in Israel too. The wind bas blowing quite hard, which kept them low. Still they are wonderful butterflies.

Not many other butterflies on the wing, because of the wind. This Green-striped White was perched on the Milk-vetch: