Shalom to everyone and welcome to our new blog! I'm happy to send this first post while the first "good" passage of Steppe Eagles (Aquila nipalensis) for this spring (around 40 birds today so far) is overhead…
From now on, we will post birding & ringing news from the International Birding & Research Center of Eilat (IBRCE), rare and interesting sightings from the greater Eilat and Southern Arava region, ringing activities to come, Israeli birding trip reports and more…
The 1st of Feb' brought us the first migrant to be ringed this season - a Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)! Since then we had some more migrants with the last one added today- a Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix):
The most common migratory passerines around at the moment are Chiffchaffs (Phyloscopus colybita) and on Sunday February 6th Liri Koplevitch and I caught a Siberian Chiffchaff (Phyloscopus (c.) tristis):
Even before the bird flew into the trap I have noticed the overall pale grayish colors and heard the familiar monotonic high pitched call. While in hand, the bird showed all the features of a tristis - pale gray upper parts with faint greenish tinge restricted to upper tail coverts, lower back and secondary's and rectrecie fringes. Pale buffish long supercilium, dark narrow eye stripe, pale brown grey ear coverts, silky white under parts with pale grey wash restricted to breast, Pale yellowish green axillaris & lesser under wing coverts. Wing formula similar to ssp. Colybita (P2=P7).
A large dark abietinus was a good comparison:
Siberian Chiffchaff is a rare passage migrant and winter visitor in Israel. During the last few days I saw 3 individuals around Eilat – this is probably the best time and area to watch these Asian birds in Israel.
Owls are also on the move with a Barn Owl (Tyto alba) caught on Sunday:
And a Scops Owl (Otus scops) found sleeping in a tree outside Eilat:
Apart from birds, some of the birding park's local reptiles are becoming more active when the day is getting hot. The Saw-scaled Viper (Echis coloratus ) is one of Israel's most dangerous venomous snakes, and definitely one of the most impressive and beautiful ones. This angry adult male was found behind the ringing station's toilet room!
The Eyed Cylindrical Skink (Chalcides ocellatus) is one of Israel's commonest skinks and is an abundant species at the IBRCE:
Migration is gaining speed quickly down here in the south. More interesting sightings and photos will be soon to follow, so keep posted and see you all at Eilat!
Re'a, on behalf of the IBRCE team.