Monday, June 10

Summer time

Shachar Shalev (our Kiwi representative)  has gone birding over the weekend and the following report shows that it is never boring around here. When there are few migrants, there is plenty of time to enjoy some of the region's very interesting species... 

I Went out 5:30 in the morning not seriously expecting to find anything. I Started at North Beach where 14 White-eyed Gulls (6 adults, 8 juveniles), were sitting on the beach between the tents. A Sandwich Tern patrolled the shore line with the occasional groups of Common Terns passing by.

The south salt ponds revealed a very late Red-necked Phalarope still swimming around and a quick walk around the IBRCE park turned up a solitary Garden Warbler and a Rufous Bush Robin which was ringed this season I imagine.

Cruising up to K20 in the cool morning air and some good music on the radio, it took a few seconds to realise that I'd cruised straight past a pair of Liechtensteins Sandgrouse's, out for a morning stroll on the side of the road. I Slammed on the brakes and carefully backtracked to get some great photo's of this beautiful and rare bird.

I haven't seen them for years and always after dusk so I felt happy with this pair...
And there were plenty of Sand Martins, Barn Swallows and Common Swifts plying the airways while a group of Ruffs, 3 Curlew Sandpipers, 3 Little Stints are feeding along the water edge.  

The Sooty Falcon I've been looking for, disappeared off north as I approached, so I stopped in at Amrams Pillars but found only deathly quiet and a lone Desert Lark and a Dorcas Gazelle.

Thursday, June 6

And the winner is...

With great pleasure, I can say that our own team member, Avi Meir, has won the prestige 3rd place in an animal portrait category at the #1 Nature Photographer competition which was recently held at the Eretz-Israel Museum, Tel-Aviv.

We know Avi's work and admire it for long time and we are happy that he is also being acknowledged now for his great work on a national scale.

There are still some birds passing through with few hundred White winged Terns as well as few tens of Gull-billed Terns today at K20 and few Ruff, Ringed Plovers and Little Stints (but unlike Avi, these photos were taken using the IPhone...)

Tuesday, June 4

Who said it is over?!

After the last post I thought it will take some time until we get another one, but over the last few weeks more and more reports accumulated and I decided to get them all together for another last (?!) post for this spring...

On May 16th there were still many waders around with big group of Red-necked Phalaropes next to the IBRCE (in total I counted some 30 together, and more around K20)

On May 17th while guiding Gordon and Suzanne Higgott we've found a very strange Lark on the eastern side of K20. The bird was sitting on top of the road looking very tired. When I first put my bins I was surprised to see this darkish and small Short-toed Lark (size was between Greater and Lesser Short-toed), but then start noticing that there are some very strange features on this bird:

1.    Bi-coloured bill with distinct pale cutting edge to the upper mandible.
2.    Despite having a very worn tertials, the primary projection still seems to be too long for any C.brachydactyla I’ve ever seen in Israel.
3.    Very plain face pattern with dark eye-stripe behind the eye.
4.    Beige edges to the secondaries and the outer GC.
5.    Plain chest with some brownish background to the breast and chest (this can easily fit any C.brachydactyla but doesn’t go well with the other features).

We've been looking at the bird for almost 1 minute before it took off flying north along the road showing very thin white line only on the outer tail feathers and keeping very quiet. It landed somewhere in the salt marsh north of the K20 complex and could not be located again. Unfortunately the bird was never re-located again so we will never know for sure what it was but here are some of Hadoram Shirihai comments:

"...I am actually not sure that this bird has deformed bill as I thought earlier, since Hume's quite often has the upper mandible acceding over the lower, and the narrow/pointed and bicolored bill that we see are within the variation of Hume's! Further, if i am reading correctly the wing formula and the pp-spacing (with both p5 & p6 has emarg. and the p5 close to tip) it is the formula of Hume's... Also the the facial pattern are within the variation of Hume's, but not conclusive because it is so worn.

Thus, it could be equally 'aberrant Hume's', and I am happy to congratulate Itai for interesting find! However, I still like to suggest (strongly) not to force or conclude ID without trapping (for biometrics, wing formula and DNA checks). 

 At the same day we also had a late Citrine Wagtail  and 2 Sanderlings among the Curlew Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstone and Collared Pratincoles as well as many breeding Kentish Plovers & Black-winged Stilts.

On North Beach there are daily reports of Sooty Shearwaters and 2-3 species of Skua's as well as many Common & Little Terns and few of each Sandwich, Gull-billed, Caspian & White-cheeked Terns.

Yesterday, while drinking coffee in the morning in my garden, I noticed a small bird walking on the grass. As the head started to work, I thought to myself "Sparrows don't walk and Pipits are much more contrasting on their back", i rushed to the house to take my bins and found a beautiful River Warbler (first for my garden and 5th or 6th for this season around Eilat!).

Today I still managed to find few migrants around with Little Terns, Red-necked Phalarope, Barred Warbler & Sand Martins still showing throughout (all the following were taken through the IPhone and my Bins).

Last, here is a very brief summery of some of the season common species ringing totals: