Every year, March brings with it a sense of anticipation, of hope, that Earth completed another rotation, and bird migration continues, despite all the horrible things we do to our planet. For me, waiting for the first Swift, first Red-rumped Swallow, first Great Spotted Cuckoo of the season, is the pure essence of birding. Every March birding session is accompanied by that warm feeling of expectation to reunite with an old friend after months apart. And then, that friend reappears, and the reunion is joyful, at least on my end.
Yesterday I went out birding with Piki in Nahal Yitla, at the Judean foothills, not far from home. It was a beautiful morning, perfect March weather, stunning flowers, birdsong in all directions. Climbing up the hill, Bamba found a Woodcock. Very cool. A Long-billed Pipit was singing, out of view. Woodchat and Great Grey Shrikes, already in pairs, 'Courtship, Display or Copulation (Probable)' (eBird breeding codes for those who are not familiar with the terminology). We stopped for a drink at the crest of the hill. Bamba needed a rest too.
Rueppell's Warbler is a special friend. That annual reunion is especially pleasing. Two years ago, minus three days, in a pre-COVID world, Piki and I had at this spot the first Rueppell's Warbler of spring 2020:
Yesterday we remembered that fine morning, and hoped for another first encounter. Indeed, like magic, out of a bush peaks a head, black bib, white moustache - hello there old friend! You are of course a different individual because you hatched in 2021 (show everyone your browner secondaries and the moult contrast in your tertials and greater coverts). Just as well, a magnificent Rueppell's Warbler, surely the first of many to come this spring. You make me smile and my heart grow. You did exactly what was expected from you, and performed beautifully. Thank you.
On top of the hill there was good butterfly action, including several False Apollos. Stunning butterfly.
Heading down the hill, one of the Woodchat Shrikes perched nicely on top of a hawthorn, with anemones in the background - shame about the branches obscuring the bird, but that's nature's Wabi Sabi to me.