Wednesday, November 21

November is not fulfilling but...

November is known as the month we all live for in Israel... In most years this is the month when many interesting species occur all over the place. This year we had most of the 'goodies' already during late October and instead of having many good birds jumping around, we have, yet again, problems with our neighbours... But we try to keep our spirits up and still we go out for monitoring and guiding as much as we can.

The returning?! Imperial Eagle is seen again around Yotveta and it has a full adult plumage now days.

A second bird, fresh from this year is hanging around Eilat Mts. together with an adult Greater Spotted Eagle

Down at the North beach, there is not too much movement except for the regular winter birds and today a pair of  Pallas's Gulls were reported by a group of British birders.

Up in Uvda Valley it is very green already from the 3 floods we had here (more on that later) but the Larks seems to avoid it at this time and instead there is a huge influx of White Wagtails and few Red-throated, Meadow and Water Pipits all around. Groups of Trumpeter Finches are also present.

In Yotveta, there is a pair of Hoopoe Larks  back to their last year winter territory and a single Linnet (again a local rarity). David Schoneveld photographed a family of Eurasian Cranes feeding in the tall grass. Probably a family who have diverted from the many that are passing daily in the area now very vocally....
The most outstanding phenomena though for this November seems to be the local whether. So far we had 3 huge floods and we have passed the 100% of the average annual rainfall (which is only 30 mm). Last Sunday a huge storm came out of nowhere and the amount of rain and ice developed unbelievable mud floods around the IBRCE park! most of the road to the IBRCE park was washed and there is very limited access also to K20, K19 and many of the sites in the southern Arava.

Wednesday, November 14

Dunn's Lark and other nice birds around

Today started with a great surprise.
I had a visit from the USA in late morning and that made me a whole of 1.5 hours to enjoy birding. Since this is November (the month we birders, in Israel live for), anything is possible anywhere...

I started at K33 and had the first Asian Desert Warbler singing next to Desert Wheatear.  
when i reached Elifaz fields, at last I found the first group of Skylarks feeding happily and not far from them was this wonderful Dunn's Lark which is always a great bird in Israel and a wonderful way to open the morning. A single Olive-backed Pipit was another great bird to finish this part of the morning. 
Later at the IBRCE after finishing my guiding, I had another Olive-backed Pipit flying over towards the northern date plantation of Eilot. Since Juan, Manolo and Yoatm left (last week of October) not much ringing is going on and in fact we only ring when I have the time to come there and open the nets (which is not more than once a week).

Last Monday I had a free one hour in the morning and I was joined by Noa Eden, so we went for a round in the Helgoland traps and found 4 birds of 3 species...

The next morning I opened the nets and we had 30 birds - mainly Chiffchaffs and Bluethroats (altogether 7 species) but I was very pleased to get also few Sardinian Warblers (1 old female which was ringed back in 2009) and the latest ever Marsh Warbler I ever encountered... 

Sunday, November 11

Its a raining day...

Friday morning I had a free morning and I decided to check what is going on around the Arava. I started in Samar where a nice adult female Isabeline Shrike was a good start and there were both Caspian and  Eurasian Stonechats (at least a couple of each). 

The big numbers of Water Pipits arrived at last and they are now all over the place joining the Red-throated and few Meadow Pipits

Later in Yotveta circular fields, few Desert and Northern Wheatears as well as more Pipits and White Wagtails and singles of each TawnyRichard's Pipit
Strangely none of the seed-eaters groups arrived yet and there are only 3 Corn Buntings around..Earlier this week together with Shay Kabessa, we also had a 1st winter male Pied Wheatear there, but i could not re-locate it now. A nice male Hen Harrier and 2 Barbary Falcons were a nice supplement instead...

One returning (?) male 'semirufus' Black Redstart was found in the Acacia woodland which were also teaming with Sardinian Warblers and few Chiffchaffs (nothing striped though...) Over all, there is a feeling of emptiness and I hope that soon things will change.  

In the Afternoon a massive rain cloud hit Eilat and within 45 minutes 14-16 mm or rain were falling over Eilat. mind you that this is 70% of the annual rainfall. the damage was very big and even at the IBRCE it will take some time before we will be able to restore.

Wishing us a great winter and hope that soon more birds will appear. Meanwhile we have these wonderful desert residents to put some colours in our eyes...

Thursday, November 8

Thank you Juan and Manolo!

Saturday 27th started the last ringing week in the Station. The first mist nest round wasn´t promising, with small numbers of Bluethroats and Chiffchaffs but the second one, if not better in numbers, let us a very nice Water Pipit subspecies coutellii, the Middle East one and also some Sardinian Warblers, Blackcaps, Reed and Willow Warblers. That was good enough but a Barn Owl in the Helgoland traps improved the amount of species as you can see in the happy face of Ken, a bander (ringer) from California who was helping us in the last days.

The captures and species increased a little bit the Sunday 28th. The half of those birds were, of course, Bluethroats and Chiffchaffs and the rest a miscellaneous of 13 species, mainly migrants like Redstarts, Blackcaps, Lesser Whitethroats, Red-backed Shrikes or Reed, Willow, Savi´s and Sardinian Warblers and local birds as Indian Silverbill or the Arabian Babbler, always fun for extranger ringers like Ken and I. The morning, everyday a little longer because the lower temperatures, was done.

Monday 29th. Just opening nets we could see something had changed. Bluethroats and Chiffchaffs couldn´t wait till the nets to be wide open so they started to fell into just during the opening. That was promising. Six hours later, checking the numbers, we proved that was true. We ringed 50 Bluethroats and 70 Chiffchaffs with no retraps as well 3 Dead Sea Sparrows, the last Masked Shrike and one Song Thrush, 155 captures and almost 20 species. After the shy Chiffchaffs arrival, the big wave was already here and, hopefully, still continues some days…

Tuesday 30th. First of all, I have to say that I was wrong, something that scarcely happens (to admit it, I mean), the Chiffchaffs wave wasn´t yesterday… it was absolutely today: 154 ringed this morning plus another 40 Bluethroats and few tens of birds more that involve Blackcaps, Reed and Great Reed Warblers, another Dead Sea Sparrow and one Cetti´s Warbler. 213 captures from more than 20 species in the best morning of the whole Autumn just a day before close the season.
Wendsday 31st of October. The last day of ringing in the Station. After the Chiffchaffs invasion of yesterday, we woke up with a phylloscopus hung-over but ready for more, if that was possible. But only 32 Chiffchaffs were caught and 25 Bluethroats, nice numbers anyway. Three European Stonechats, Redstart, Reed and Willow Warblers were present also my last day in Eilat but my very last ringed bird had to be one of my most beloved one. Just closing the Station that morning and after realize that my last one was a House Sparrow, my good friend Tzadok arrived with a very fulfilled bag, coming from the town where somebody phone him for rescuing a bird almost drown in a pond. It was a European Nightjar, a species that saw me making ridiculous on myself evening after evening. We let the bird in a cage till the end of the afternoon; time enough for getting dry, gave him a little to drink and, once ringed, released it with the last light of my last day. The Nightjar flew well enough for reaching the Nile this very night and this way the day and the season was done. See you all! 

Once again this is a great opportunity to say a big thank you to Juan, Manolo, Yotam, Sylvia and all the volunteers who worked during this season and made it happen!!!
Together we had: 439 Bluethroats; 398 Chiffi's; 257 Red-backed Shrikes!!!; 1 Citrine Wagtail; 1 Isabeline Shrike; 7 Scops Owls and many many more... bringing us to a total of 4581 birds!

over the last few days things were much slower, but still many Chiffchaffs are jumping around the park. Since I can't open the nets early there is no proper daily ringing, but still I managed to have 2-3 short sessions and add some more Chiffi's, Bluethroats and the second Red-breasted Flycatcher for the season. I hope to have more time birding and ringing soon before the most interesting month of birding in Israel will come to an end...