Sunday, September 30

Knocking on October door...

The end of September is knocking on the IBRCE ringing station´s door, providing us 70-100 birds just during the morning rounds consisting some twenty species or so... 
Reed Warblers still leads the top-ten but those days in which atmospheric pressure push down to the ground Sand Martins, Barn and Red-Rumped Swallows so one can find every mist net with more than ten of them just before the first (out of three) Manolo´s breakfast... Marsh Warblers are nowadays a never absent species which have made myself an accurate expert on the extremely slight science of its identification (I've already seen five…) Great Reed and Sedge Warblers are the other Acrocephalus that occurs most often like the Sylvia Warblers (Garden and Orphean Warblers, Lesser and Common Whitethroat as well as Blackcaps) and Savi´s Warblers as well. Willow Warbler is still the only  Phylloscopus ringed, watched and heard and no way to forget the Shrikes: Masked and Red-Backed, which gently improve our skills in taking birds out of the nets. Some others, like Scops Owls, Golden Orioles, Wrynecks or Citrine Wagtails just seems to be special guest stars from time to time and almost everyday some new species introduces itself in the Helgoland traps or the mist nets, as happened with a Bluethroat on Thursday the 27th: A beautiful adult male was the first of, hopefully, a nice amount. 

ON the next day Friday 28th Namaqua Dove was the new kid for the station (at least for this autumn) with the addition of being a tick for Ron, his very first ringed one... One  just couldn't deny noticing the broad, proud smile on his face (good luck and nice birds in Canada).

On Saturday 29th nice numbers, up to 100 and even better species like a yakutensis Willow Warbler (a Siberian subspecies) and a second Common Rosefinch was a sort of sign for make an afternoon´s ride for birdwatching. 

 Yael, Ron, Rea, Manolo and I headed North, looking for something (almost) unbelievable from the promising fields of Yotvata where many hundreds of Short-toed Larks, few Lesser Short-toed Larks and a single Richard's Pipit were reported recently by Yoav and Itai, across the yellow sands of Samar and the stinky waters of K19 Sewage, where we ended the day with a new species for me (more beers and ice-creams…) an adult White-Tailed Lapwing (unlike the juv' bird which was reported earlier from Yotveta sewage) and a brightly coloured Purple SwamphenSadly  the light was not enough for a long shot like it was, but I tried to supply my lacks in the Photography world with my notebook and a ball-pen… 

But just for confirm myself that my camera had a flash, I tried to do a night foto. Here is, the amazing Middle Eastern Short-fingered Gecko, Sthenodactylus doriae… and another day was done.


Wednesday, September 26

IBRCE ringing station report

The days are getting shorter, the temperature is barely over 30 deg' centigrade and the wind stands still from the North - autumn migration slips over us day by day…

The Bee-eaters flocks are heard non-stop both day and night while Barn Swallows and Sand Martins roost keep on providing us tens of birds every evening. Manolo´s moans begging for a variety started to work at last and Sylvia warblers have shown an increase in species and numbers every day. Blackcaps are the most numerous but Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethroats, Garden Warblers and Eastern Orphean Warblers as well. Also the number of Willow Warblers has grown daily and Common Redstarts, Winchats and Tree Pipits come to the mist nets and Helgoland traps as well. But the longest waited species, for me at least, was the Marsh Warbler, uncaught since our landing in the station but finally captured, one bird on Monday 24th and another one today Wednesday 26th. 
Though non scarce during autumn migration across Israel, this species is a defeat for Spanish ringers so those birds were more than welcome, critically examined and satisfied released. 

Still with the sweet feeling remaining in my player´s hand because the first of those Marsh Warblers, I found a Reed Warbler hanging in one of the nets. This individual was ringed on its left leg, not the way of IBRCE´s station… what does it mean I ask myself? Maybe Manolo ringed it puzzling the legs, as he use to puzzle his medication…? Might the bird itself change the ring, looking for a more comfortable wearing? Both hypotheses were rejected after a closer watch: a BUDAPEST brand new ring was the perfect ending for the morning.

On Tuesday 25th, Yael and Ron joined us in the station so during the next days we could do the mist nets, the Helgoland traps as well as the roost ringing and the wader traps… one more ringer and we may put nets on the moon! The results, by now, have been two days with an up to 100 birds amount, that includes Little Stints, Dunlin, Wood Sandpiper, a juv' Scops Owl, Golden Oriole, another Marsh Warbler, Wryneck and the rest of the usual staff: warblers, shrikes and Sand Martins.

The most un-unexpected bird though, was a juv' Common Rosefinch, another new species for me and a good new for everybody because it means more beers on my own bill…


Sunday, September 23

Here it comes to save the day...

After Juan and Manolo came back yesterday, with not too many surprises (except for many hundreds of Short-toed Larks and a good fall of Eurasian & Isabeline Wheatears) from their day out birding in the southern Arava and the Uvda Valley, I received today a set of photos from Yaniv Basher (a local birder/photographer) of a wonderful White-tailed Plover which he took yesterday around Yotveta. 
Thanks Yaniv for a great find of a beautiful bird...

Saturday, September 22

More Autumn updates

The Northern wind keeps on blowing and temperatures are decreasing slowly. 
It has been very easy going at the IBRCE ringing station during the last week, a male Scops Owl this morning was a great treat.

Apart from it earlier this week, I had 2 Egyptian Vultures still hanging around at Yotveta and today at the ringing there was a nice wave of Sand Martins which looks like a continuation of what Juan and Manolo had yesterday:

“On Thursday the 20th we woke up with not too many birds. The ‘usual’ species were still present though: Reed and Sedge Warblers, Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, Masked Shrikes, Bee-eaters and Savi´s Warbler… anyway, something had changed because we only had one re-trap along the morning while during the last few days we had many more and in fact most were re-traps from the whole number of birds. during the morning, Itai reported of a growing number of waders also at K20, among them one Broad-billed Sandpiper. Thirsty of action, the IBRCE ringing team took advantage of the tranquillity and looked out for the surrounded fauna. At the IBRCE salt ponds there are growing numbers of waders as Ruffs, Little Stints, Dunlins, Marsh, Wood and Green Sandpipers, Caspian Terns…  But our neighbourhood does not only involve birds: Cape Hares Lepus capensis and the Look-At-Me-But-Don´t-Touch Viper (also known as Saw Scaled Viper) Echis coloratus are some of our other friendly companions which one can meet just having a walk like I do: quiet, slow and heavy, something alike a one hundred kilos ninja…

On Friday 21th we rose up in the same way like yesterday except the temperature, obviously cooler… This change of weather has resolved in loading the mist nets with tens of Sand Martins and Barn Swallows, about 50 during the first two rounds plus the usual incoming of warblers, shrikes and so. After focus our attention in a 98 mm wing long Sand Martin (where else but Eilat do you expect to catch the eilata subspecies of Riparia riparia?), we found out a nice number of Savi´s Warblers as well. A little work fixing traps and cutting trees leaded by Tzadok, the Master of the tools, ended the morning. The nice arrival of Sand Martins made us decide for another trial at down. Some tens of Sand Martins and Barn Swallows as well as Yellow Wagtails were ringed (remarkable, not a single re-trap from the morning) before the night supper: kebabs swimming on a sea of fried cauliflower and onions with a paprika tide (cheff Manolo strikes again…)

Wednesday, September 19

Introducing: Juan Ramirez...

For the last 2 weeks, we have enjoyed the very welcoming help of Juan and Manolo from Spain at the ringing station (who've managed also to catch the Paddyfield last week). 
Juan has been returning for the IBRCE ringing station for the last 4 years, but this is his first Autumn in Eilat. Manolo is a first time visitor/volunteer and so far we enjoyed his skills very much.

Today's post was written by Juan and I am sure you will enjoy the new style...

Wendsday 19th september.  After the Jewish New Year´s Day fever, the work continues as before under a North blowing wind and temperatures happily below 40’s.
Mist nets and Helgoland traps provide us a healthy number of Red-Backed and Masked Shrikes, just enough to endure our fingers. Reed and Sedge Warblers are the most common species with some Willow Warblers as well. 
Nothing different enough but a lost young Moorhen in a Helgoland trap, when Manolo yelled in the Pond Nets because an a-normal big warbler was stuck into… indeed, a very welcome female Marsh Harrier it was. The Harrier was ringed with delight by Itai, Tzadok, Manolo and myself and flew over the station few minutes later whilst we turned our attention to the last shrikes and Bee-eaters of the morning rounds. 

Guided by Itai, Manolo and I had a successful visit to the Eilat surrounding mountains where two Sooty Falcons let us admire their accurate shape and fancy colour sitting in the yellowish rocks and even flying among the cliffs. No way to dare for asking something else but lunch and siesta (we Spanish show ourselves stubborn about this...)

We later ringed a friend, a White Stork which enjoyed the IBRCE hospitality during the last 2 weeks. Gladly it recovered and it was high time to say goodbye. So after a feast of warm chicken (and siesta), we brought the stork over to K 19, where many tens of other storks were enjoying a stop-over during their migration. A nervous flapping, sounded like a sort of “thanks a lot, you buddies” and a short overlooking flight was enough  before a smooth landing on the opposite shore of the pond amongst a mixed flock of White Storks and Grey Herons - Good luck and winds... Just in time for more Bee-eaters and and a not very productive trial for Nightjars, we went back to the station when the first Golden Jackals howled. 
Manolo holding our friend before release 

Another day was done.


Monday, September 10

Paddyfield Warbler!

What a great Autumn this is turning to be...

This morning when I came to the IBRCE ringing station, I met with Juan and Manuel. together with them was Amihud Naor, a visiting birder from Jerusalem who used to be the resident zoologist around Eilat, between 1971-1986...
As I approached, Juan ask me to identify a bird in a bag he was handing me, saying that this may be a Blyth's Reed Warbler. I looked at the bird and all I could see was a Reed Warbler which had a longer supercilium than the usual... and than, Juan said "but we also have, what we think is a Paddyfield Warbler" handing me another bag.
I looked at Juan trying to understand if this is going to be another "ringers joke", took the bag and indeed inside was a beautiful adult Paddyfield Warbler! which was caught 5 minutes before I came at the pond. What a great beginning for this Autumn! If I'm not wrong, this is only Israel's 8th Paddyfield Warbler!
 Other than this bird, there is a good wave of Red-backed Shrikes & Willow Warblers, a single Thrush Nightingale and White-breasted Kingfisher were also trapped this morning while Golden Orioles, Spotted Flycatchers, Whitethroats, Garden Warblers are all seen (some caught) almost daily.

Saturday, September 8

Visitors from a far...

As Autumn is becoming more evident everywhere and reports from the north about record migration days of Honey Buzzard, we also enjoy new arrivals almost daily.
Greater Flamingo are also starting to arrive and yesterday and today Yael Lenhardt together with Juan Ramirez and Manuel G. Loben (both joined us at the IBRCE ringing station for the all Autumn) have spotted a probable Andalusian bird (having a pale ring with the following combination on its left tibia: 1|SFP)This is only the second ever Spanish Greater Flamingo we see in Eilat (and maybe Israel...), all the rest are Turkish and Iranian originated.

Waders numbers are growing very nice and new arrivals like Gargany and Shovelers have also been recorded.

At the IBRCE ringing station there is a constant grow in migrants and Yotam has trapped already the first recovery for the season (a Bulgarian Barn Swallow).

Up at the Eilat Mts. I've managed to locate a new pair of Sooty Falcons thanks to a group of Wolves Canis lupus who were passing by and made the very territorial male to bombard them very aggressively. In the fields, there are growing numbers of Passerines like Yellow Wagtails, Greater Short-toed Larks, few Ortolan Buntings and a single Black-headed Bunting as well as many Red-backed & Masked Shrikes and first waves of Blue-cheeked & Eurasian Bee-etars.

Lesser Emperor Anax partanope are still flying around as well as Red-veined Dropwings

Acacia tortilis  which are wonderful trees throughout the year, are in full bloom at present  and thus attract many insects and birds. Many Willow and Eastern Olivacous Warblers can be seen feeding in the foliage while a good wave of Lesser Grey Shrikes which are also passing through now days, enjoy the lush micro-habitat the Acacia's creates.
 Hoopoe Larks have also returned into their winter territories and are in active moult now.
 One more common migrant? at the moment is Hooded Wheatear which have grown in numbers all over. It is interesting to note that mostly we see males at the moment with only a few females around. 1st year males are in active moult now and can become very strange looking birds. 
 One strange bird appeared on Thursday at Lotan sewage ponds and created a lot of thrill until I managed to get a better observation of it and saw that the cap is just very dark but not black...