Tuesday, September 27, 2022

A week in the UK

Earlier this month I participated in the World Congress of BirdLife International in Cambridge, UK, celebrating 100 years of the most powerful conservation partnership in the world. I represented BirdLife Israel - Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. It was a great celebration indeed, meeting so many friends, old and new, from all over the world. It is truly inspiring and empowering to feel a part of something so big, a giant, special, sometimes a bit crazy family, working together for nature and people. After several years of zoom meetings, it was awesome to meet people in person, actual people with legs and all. 

The congress included a European Partnership Meeting, where important work was actually done, and included amazing displays of solidarity with our partners in Ukraine and Belarus (check this Youtube video). Then there was a Partnership Fair, like a mini BirdFair where each organisation could present their work. This is my stand, adjacent to MME/BirdLife Hungary and natur&ëmwelt/BirdLife Luxembourg:

Something very weird happened during the Partnership Fair

Of course, I had to keep my checklist streak. In most days I walked around local sites, such as Stourbridge Common and Ditton Meadows. As expected, with the weather and location, there were very few migrants around, still enjoyed it. Tried to force a Reed Warbler into becoming a blyth's, without success. Nice to share that moment with my mate Simon from BTO, where banana posture just ain't good enough.

Had a good time with my mates from Cornell Lab, including an early morning visit to Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB, providing Cullen with quality life birds such as Eurasian Green Woodpecker and Common Kingfisher.

Then I headed over to Norwich for a long weekend of birding and birding friends. Two mornings were spent seawatching off Sheringham. The wind wasn't perfect but the sea was nice and rough, and I enjoyed birding with mates. There were many birds that I enjoyed, even some OK stuff - Cory's Shearwater, Sabine's Gull, Long-tailed Skuas. There were many skuas in general, divers, scoters - birding experiences that an Israeli like myself appreciates. And it was cold! I really enjoyed feeling cold after the scorching hot summer in Israel.

On my final morning went with Robin to Cantley Sugar Factory, which was alright. Many hirundines over the pits, some shorebirds, first Pink-footed Geese. Among the House Martins there were a couple of striking birds that the late Martin Garner would have enjoyed. Extreme Common House-Martins I guess.

Was I one week too early, or was the nighthawk one week too late?

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Hulda fantastic migration

Gosh, just noticed for how long I have neglected my blog! That's not for lack of birding, still out every day. I lacked significant highlights and also in recent weeks haven't had much mood for photography. In any case, this morning I went to Hulda Reservoir, five minutes from my house. It's a Saturday morning tradition, usually with Piki, this time alone as Piki is away surveying Sooty Falcons or something. So I had the reservoir all to my self. I arrived very early, a Eurasian Nightjar was foraging over the track driving in. As I stepped out of the car and got prepared for the walk, so many birds were up in the air, calling, either ending a night of migration or returning from a roost. The dawn sky was full of calls - wagtails, pipits, buntings. As soon as there was enough light I noticed that Willow Warblers were everywhere, shrikes perched in all directions, Whinchats flycatching, hirundine clouds - it was whopping with birds!

At the moment water level at the reservoir is very low. Land exposed by the receding water is covered with lush vegetation, supplying migrants with food. 

Most prominent migrants were Willow Warblers - there were hundreds, maybe more, very hard to estimate how many. They were mobile, some moving with me as I walked around the reservoir. Their density was very high - at some sections, with every step I took 10-15 warblers flew up. I love Willow Warblers.

I really enjoyed the birding zen this morning. I find it great fun to work through common migrants, and search for stuff. Among the warblers I had Wood and Rueppell's. Among the many marsh terns hawking over the water I had a Black Tern. First Red-throated Pipit for me this autumn, calling among many Tree Pipits. Citrine Wagtail among the clouds of yellows. Wheatears in the field. Harriers went through. Levant Sparrowhawks as well. 

Lesser Græy Shrike

European Roller

eBird checklist here - one of the best I ever did at Hulda.