It's been a while since I last posted here. Not for the lack of birding - with migration intensity peaking from day to day, I am out and about as much as I can, doing my best to take it all in. However, my motivation to photograph has dropped considerably, as did my motivation to blast social media with migration posts. Another flock of pelicans? Another shrike perched on a branch? Another flock of wagtails in the fields? Feels a bit pointless doesn't it? I mean, I am out, I enjoy the birds, I take some videos through my scope, I shoot the occasional photograph when I can find the energy to get the camera out of the backpack, and the bird actually waits. Still, my main motivation is just to bird as hard as I can in the limited time I have, to experience migration at its best and purest. Photography slows me down, as social media does. These photos here are more or less the only half-decent photos i got in recent weeks of daily birding. I did start doing this daily X/Twitter thing about where my daily birding takes me and what makes me happy. That's fun, but that's the max I can do right now. This Twitter thing takes me very little time and effort. Maybe tomorrow I will find motivation to photograph more birds? And post more on social media, to connect people with nature an so on?
Sunday, August 27, 2023
Yesterday (August 26th, 2023) I went to Ma'agan Michael to twitch the Booted Warbler that had been found there by Igal Siman Tov. It's only the 5th record for Israel, and the first twitchable, great find! It took some searching until I eventually saw it; it didn't preform as well as it did on previous days so no photos. Still, I saw it well enough to count for an IL bimbo, with supercilium and all.
However, this wasn't the most outstanding observation of that morning. While walking around with Amir Balaban in search of the skulking warbler, a quartet of Whimbrels flew by. Whimbrel is quite scarce in Israel, so without hesitation both of us rattled away with our cameras as they passed close, almost overhead. They flew by very fast, and both of us didn't get a chance to check them with our bins. Back home in the evening I downloaded the images to my computer, and noticed that one bird was unusual, the rear bird of the quartet. With the story of the once-though-extinct-now-super-rare Steppe Whimbrel in my mind, I always check Whimbrel underwings here, and this one certainly caught my eye (alas not in the field). It has essentially white underwing coverts, and limited spotting on the axillaries. It's pectoral band is nicely developed, contrasting with the white belly.
This morning I was in Ma'agan Michael, connecting with Booted Warbler, IL tick for me. While searching for it, Amir Balaban and I had this Whimbrel quartet fly by. I snapped some shots of them. Could the rear one be alboxillaris? Not sure it's quite white and clean enough@_OSME pic.twitter.com/6YSTnemdU2— Yoav Perlman (@yoavperlman) August 26, 2023
Thursday, August 24, 2023
Just got back from a family holiday in Catalunya. We spnt a week up in the Pyrenees, then a few days in Barcelona. We met up with our good friends the Chittendens, who drove in all the way from the UK. From a family perspective, it was a perfect holiday - stunning scenery, great activities, excellent food. Brownie points secured. Especially when these family activities include encounters with Lammergeiers and Dipper.
It was enjoyable just to hang around in the garden, that was full of birds. Western Subalpine, Western Bonelli's and Melodious Warblers seem to have all bred there. Pied Flys, both redstarts, Crested Tits and Short-toed Treecreepers - quite good fun.
Thursday, August 10, 2023
I spent the past week in Eilat. My younger son, Noam, did an open water diving course, and I was there to escort him. I joined his group for a dive today (Thursday). On other days, I dropped him and his mates off in the morning, and picked them up in the afternoon. In between I tried to work...
At this time of year, when the temperatures are so high and fall migration is just starting, all eyes are on the sea. Naturally, every morning I showed up on North Beach at first light. I enjoyed good birding action until I had to leave, too early, at 07:00. There was really nice activity around bait-balls or fish-boils that formed once or twice every morning. It was exciting to watch this. On August 7th I had six tern species going crazy over the bait-ball, picking up little fish pushed to the surface by predatory tuna: White-cheeked (the most numerous), Common, Arctic, Bridled, Lesser Crested and Caspian. In this photo, spot the Bridled Tern on the right:
Crazy scenes off North Beach, Eilat this morning. Dozens of White-cheeked Terns and White-eyed Gulls in a feeding frenzy over a fish boil. Bridled, Lesser Crested, Arctic, Common and Caspian Terns thrown in for good measure.— Yoav Perlman (@yoavperlman) August 7, 2023
Digiscoped through @SwarovskiOptik ATX85 pic.twitter.com/eAh34G1tim
It was interesting to see them catching flying insects, probably Chironomus midges that are abundant in the early morning.
A Brown Booby was present for a short while one morning, perched on a distant border buoy. Note the Cory's Shearwater sailing past at the very beginning of the clip:
Monday, July 31, 2023
Sorry for the delayed update, in recent weeks I have been super busy, and also lost some motivation to photograph birds and especially to use social media. The combination of super hot weather my crazy country falling apart makes me want to dig a cool burrow and jump right in. As long as I can still bird in it... My birding is concentrated to super early morning sessions - later on it becomes unbearably hot and sticky.
I visited the UK earlier in July. The visit was focused on Global Birdfair, that happened in Rutland Showground during July 14-16. I am late to the party - so much has been written on social media about this event. So many selfies... I travelled there with Alen from my team, and we represented BirdLife Israel at this fantastic event. We promoted there our conservation work, including Champions of the Flyway: The new project for COTF24 was launched - tackling illegal killing of birds in Tanzania, working with Nature Tanzania. How exciting!
The new Birdfair was a great success, in my opinion. Tim, Penny and their team managed to generate the hype, the buzz that was so distinctive in the 'old' British Birdfair. It felt very 'right' to be there - it certainly was THE place to be. Great to hang out with so many friends from all over the world. My selfie motivation has dwindled too, so not many photos from birdfair.
Damn it, it had to be done
Everyone complained about the weather. I loved it! Such a welcome respite from the heat in Israel. Good to see wetland restoration happening in real-time.
Of course, early morning birding had to be done. En route, Alen and I stopped at Grafham Water, where we were glad to relocate the Lesser Scaup that had gone missing for a few days. Too distant for photos but a welcome WP tick for me. Somehow I managed not to see one during my four years in the UK.
Birdfair morning sessions were dedicated to checking different Rutland Water hides - I actually enjoyed birding there quite much. I screwed up a possible Pec on July 16th, out of Dunlin hide. It was distant but looked good in the bins. By the time I got the baby scope on it, crows flushed it and it was lost.
I like it!— Yoav Perlman (@yoavperlman) July 16, 2023
Enjoyed birding Rutland Water NR using this @SwarovskiOptik baby. Now heading to @GlobalBirdfair - final day. @Team_eBird checklist streak secured. But who will be eBirder of Birdfair? pic.twitter.com/16KlJS1V3l
Then Alen and I continued to London for two days of meetings with supporters there. The meetings went well. Early morning birding sessions were done in Totteridge Valley, not far from where I was staying, they were OK too. Firecrest was the best, Mandarin was a photo tick...
Friday, June 30, 2023
This summer keeps giving. Early morning streak-continuation birding, schoolrun, coffee in the garden with my wife, phone beeps: Rony Livne and his team had just caught a Basra Reed-Warbler at his site, Kfar Menachem!!! Conveniently it's a short drive away. I jumped in to the car and enjoyed this excellent bird just before it was released. Thanks Rony and the team!
I have a bit of history with this bird in Israel. In 2006, the late Amit Geffen and I worked together in Agamon Hula Ringing Station. When our accommodation shifted to kibbutz Lehavot Habashan, we looked for local afternoon ringing options. On our first afternoon session at the kibbutz's fishponds we caught three Basra Reed-Warblers (!), a recently-fledged young and two adults, a male and a female, both with physiological evidence for breeding (brood patch and swollen cloaca). This is a photo from July 4, 2006 - adult Basra Reed-Warbler on left, recently-fledged juvenile on right:
Over the next days we caught a couple more. This was the first breeding record in Israel of a bird that back then was a mega rarity in Israel, globally threatened and declining, and at that time unknown to breed away from the marshes of southern Iraq. Understandably, this breeding record generated some interest. Next year, in 2007, a few Basra Reeds returned to the site, but there were no signs of breeding. In 2008 only one individual was found, again without signs of breeding. This photo is from May 24, 2008:
Since then, Basra Reed-Warbler has returned to its former rarity status in Israel, as a rare late-spring/summer migrant, just about annual. Almost all records involve birds trapped by ringers, in Eilat and northern valleys. Today's record is the first in central Israel.
Basra Reed-Warbler is globally Endangered. Though its global population trend may have stabilized during the 2000's, it seems to be undergoing population declines again as a result of habitat loss and the effects of climate change. Its core breeding area is in southern Iraq, and in recent years it was found breeding also in adjacent parts of Iran, and in Kuwait. Additionally, there were indications that it may be breeding along the Euphrates north into Syria and even Turkey. I would assume that birds migrating through Israel are heading to or from more northerly breeding grounds than S Iraq.
This photo is from the stunning Ngulia, Tsavo West NP, Kenya, December 7, 2010: