Welcome to mid October: These days have seen the unavoidable change of the leader in the autumn migration in Eilat. Last saturday 13th most ringed species were still Reed Warbler, the undisputed main character of the season and only four Bluethroats were ringed that day as well. But the next morning we rose up surrounded by the calls of Bluethroats and at the end of the morning, fourteen individuals carried the TEL AVIV UNIV rings… it was the most captured species of the day with not a single retrap. The date doesn´t fail and most of the Reed and Sedge Warblers must be somewhere through the Sahara by now. Bluethroats, plainly looking for a suitable winter ground in our latitudes. Just paying attention around us we could sense the lack of the noise of the Bee-eaters and the replacement of the calls, from Yellow to White Wagtails and from Tree to Red-throated Pipits. Only Willow Warblers still wait for its substitution… where the Bloody Hell the Chiffchaffs are?
Monday morning stated tasty by every side. Between the flocks of Caspian Terns, Squacco and Grey Herons that fly every early morning northwards, we saw a Little Gull and a Purple Heron. Of course the Scops Owl occurred punctual in the first trap round but my special own delight was taken out from the Northeast nets by my very friend Tzadok. After a month and a half playing calls beside the nets and inside the traps; running after them between the acacia trees and seriously thinking on some kind of begging ritual dancing around the Mexican Bird-Snake Godness totem, after all those ridiculous exposing of myself, I mean, when Tzadok appeared from NE nets with my first-in-hand European Nightjar, a beautiful and hysterical young bird which hissed me as first reaction to my double-mortal jump. The morning was, apart from that, again led by Bluethroats but, suddenly, an emarginated 6th primary feather stroke all of us… it was the irrefutable diagnostic of the eagerly awaited very first Common Chiffcahff of the Autumn. And not just only one but two of them where ringed that morning after the accurate re-checking of the whole staff. Everybody agreed. We are on our way towards winter (forget the 35ºC…) and the morning was happily done.
Itai´s reports from Sat’ of Uvda plains and the common opinion about nothing too much to do for improving the day at the ringing station moved us during the afternoon up North. Manolo wished to find the Asian Wild Ass, perhaps because a misconceived of that suggestive name and neither Omer and I knew the place so we spent the last hours of the day walking after flocks of Spotted Sandgrouses, Trumpeter Finches and some Dorcas Gazelles but not wild donkeys just only its very generous droppings and prints in the sand. No way to forget the almost adult Imperial Eagle perched in the electric tower near to Samar, in the way to Uvda.
Tuesday 16th was the first day we knew for sure that Chiffchaffs, finally arrived, will not failure us. Actually, when the morning was over, six collybita were ringed and only four trochilus that means a seriously presence. The same we could say about the Bluethroats (sixteen today!) though some Reed and Sedge Warblers, even the (probably) last Marsh Warbler still occurred. Almost seventy birds of twenty species in less than four hours, including a Kingfisher, two Wrynecks, Lesser Whitethroats, Spanish Sparrows, Palestine Sunbird and, no one of us had ever seen this, an albino/leucistic young Masked Shrike… What else???J.R.