Monday, August 29

Sooty Falcon and Autumn migration updates

After 3 days up north, I was happy to come back home and check whether migration is picking up around here as it is up north. I started checking K20 where there were good numbers of Little Stints as well as growing (comparing with last week) numbers of Ringed Plovers, Ruffs, Wood Sandpipers  and few Greenshanks, as well as Alpine and Curlew Sandpipers. 

Also around were the first groups of Sand Martins, 30 Gargany's, 5 Gull-billed Terns, 2 Black Terns and a dozen or so of Whiskered Terns.

The best birds though were a pair of Sooty Falcons that gave great show of both hunting (going mainly after Little Stints and Yellow Wagtails) and displaying. Below are some poor record shots of the male eating the leftovers of a Yellow Wagtail (the white ground cover is from the foam created by the waves).

 After K20 I checked the Acacia woodland around and there were many new migrants in the  foliage: First Willow and Garden Warblers were joining the wave of Lesser Whitethroats that was present already last week.

Indian Silverbills are always nice 
 and there were both Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrikes present around.

At the IBRCE park, Re'a reported a Barbary Falcon  trying to help control the Ring-necked Parakeet numbers and also the first Great Reed Warbler for the season. in the Melon fields, next to the park, there are new groups of Eurasian Bee-eaters and I heard my first Citrine Wagtail for this Autumn calling.

Back in Beer-Ora, my garden-list keeps on growing with my first Nighingale for the season and by mid day I already spotted my first Honey Buzzard for the season.

Stay tuned and we will update you as the season proceeds.

Saturday, August 20

Autumn Migration is on...

This Weekend, despite all the late occurrences in the area, we had our family coming to celebrate our son's (Uri) 5th Birthday in our house at Beer-Ora.
This morning, while everybody is digesting a great breakfast, my wife's mom, who has a limited interest in birds, was looking out on the lawn and asked me why do the Sparrows in the south look so small?!
I looked towards the birds she was pointing at and found amongst the House Sparrows my first garden Icterine Warbler. Off course that by the time the camera was around, the bird did not, but still, thank you Savta Ruti...

Later during the afternoon, when everybody went to snorkel in Eilat, I decided to stay back and go check K 20 and the area. Comparing with last week there were much less waders around but still some new arrivals like Ruddy Turnestone a group of some 70 Greater Flamingo that by their very alert behaviour seems to be new arrivals (also there were extra 70-100 on their usual pond).
A group of Gargany's and Shovelers joined the many Slender Billed Gulls and the usual group of 10-14 Caspian Terns. Also around were Gull-billed, Whiskered and White-winged Terns. 

Undoubtedly though, the best bird for K 20 was an adult Terek Sandpiper  which kept on flying away and i only managed to get this very poor record shot...

As the time went by and it was getting dark i went out of the ponds and found on one of the Acacia's next to the road (which some will badly consider naming it Senegalia or Vachellia a trio of 1 Eastern Orphean Warbler and 2 Lesser Whitethroats.  

Driving back home on a small desert road, I was cut by a very fast and powerful flyer that immediately i recognised as a Lichtensein's Sandgrouse . I followed it until it went down on the ground and in the far distance i could count 2 female types and a single male feeding out in the open. Next to them was my first Isabeline Wheathear for the season jumping around, I wish there were more light... 

Let's hope that the current escalation will come to an end we will be able to enjoy a nice Autumn migration. We (Re'a, Yotam and I) are planning to start survey the mountains for Sooty Falcons breeding territories and it will be very hard if the situation won't change.

Stay tuned and we will try to update as the season progresses.

Tuesday, August 16

last days notes

So, species count is rising daily, with an Olive Tree Warbler near the ringing station yesterday and another one today. These badass migrants peak around mid July and those should be considered rearguard (but still the first one I have seen this autumn)!
Other good stuff around from the last days  includes a Black Tern and some 80 Garganys at K20 salt ponds (thanks Itai!), a Sooty Falcon attacking a Barbary Falcon at the Red Canyon (upper Eilat Mountains) – a good clue for a nesting territory. Yesterday, a Black Bush Robin was found at the Hai-Bar reserve near Yotvata, by Shay Kabbessa . Great find and thanks for the photo!

A fledgling Rufus Bush Robin was caught today.

Note the partial post juv. Moult pattern-

A juv Masked Shrike from today-

The Lehnardt family is working full power! Yael is here for 3 days (a vacation from the army), and already mended all the holes at the Heligoland traps, and re-count the rings stock (would take me for ages…)
The relentless Yotam is working on new waders traps; hopefully tomorrow they will prove efficient! 
And how can I neglect the bugs? On Sunday I had a male Red Veined Darter (Sympetroom fonscolombii) at the reedbed of "Anita's lake". The last record of this species (as far as I recall) was during march!
Another good reappearing species I had yesterday - Blue Empror (Anax imperator), again,  a species that was last recorded here during mid-spring.

Itai reports of Red-veined and Violet Dropwings as well as Desert Skimmer (Orthetrum ransonnetii) from Beer-Ora.

The Ischnura senegalensis seem to be doing well hunting tiny insects at the salt pond's shore! Here's a nice "lucky" shot I made last week-

An afternoon walk around Eilat (Holland park area) provided great incounters with some residents- many "baby face" half grown Sand Partridges were running  around, 2 families of Desert Larks, and a noisy bunch of  Arabian Bablers. Just before sunset I found this beautiful Sand Gecko (Tropiocolotes nattereri). This is the smallest gecko in Israel (adults get to 6 cm). the back pattern of this individual is rather odd and unique.

Yotam is going out this evening for a waders catch…so stay tuned!

Monday, August 8

a call for Volunteers!

Autumn is here and to open the season we ask you for your help!
If you have interest of ringing and birding at the IBRCE as a volunteer, we would be happy to hear from you. Apart from ringing, work with us includes gardening, repairing of traps and equipment and general help around the park. Free time for travelling and birding will be given. We prefer volunteers with ringing license and proven experience. 
Accommodation  will be available (at the IBRCE-room with air-condition) but due to budget constrains, we will not be able to provide living expenses during this season. Having a valid International driving license will provide the option of using the park's car. 

Just to mention some species that were Caught and/or seen at Eilat during last few autumns: Black Crowned Sparrow Lark, Oriental skylark,  Hume's, Green,  Paddyfield, Syke's, Cyprus  and Menetries's warblers…Daurian Shrike, Syrian Serin, Caspian&Sibrian Stonechats, Pied Wheatear, "Eastern" Black Redstars, Olive Backed and Buff Bellied Pipits, Citrine Wagtail,  Black Winged Kite, Crested Tern and many more…   
You may have seen some of the photos below in previous posts, but just to remind you how good looking our volunteers are and how much fun we share:
Dutch, Finish, Bulgarian, and Israeli (sound like the beginning of a joke)…

The Swedish-Spanish connection-
Our Top Model, Teun Van Kassel of Holland-

Please contact us by Email at:

And of course some birding updates: today we ringed our first Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and Reed Warbler for the season! A somewhat out of date Steppe Buzzard flew overhead as well…

Friday, August 5

New arrivals

We have a new man aboard!          
Yotam Lehnardt started his one year service at the IBRCE this week. Let me tell a bit about him- he is a professional B ringer, very tall and likes bread with chocolate. Last autumn he was fortunate to catch Israel's 2nd Black Throated Accentor! So be ready for some great stuff he will find during the coming year (while I will be serving in the army…).

And now the keyboard is passed to Yotam: the summer is biting hard in Eliat. Seawacthing  is quite well though: Itai watched a single Bridled Tern yesterday and another 6 this morning at north beach, also present there as in the last few weeks are a small flock of Cory's Shearwaters about 8 of them. A dozen Common tern,1 Whiskered tern, 1 White-winged Tern, 1-3 white-cheeked Tern and the local White-eyed Gulls.
At the park the work to fix the Heligoland tarps for the autumn had begun piece by piece in the comfortable 35 degrees in 06:00 every morning, soon the traps will be catching the many migrants we are waiting for.

And yesterday these migrants finally arrived in the shape of few eastern Eastern Orphean warblers , several Lesser Whitethroats , Eastern Olivaceous Warblers and a flock of 40-50 White Storks. Soon, as weather will improve we will hopefully catch more migrating passerines and not only Sparrows and Bulbuls (today we had  some 50 House sparrows in 1 trap).

The first for the autumn- a juv. Eastern Orphean Warbler!

Itai reports of some waders around the IBRCE salt ponds- Broad Billed Sandpiper, 3 Culew Sandpipers, quite a few Ruffs & Tringas, increasing numbers of Little stints etc...
Have a good weekend, Yotam & Re'a.