Thursday, July 25

Rarity alert...

Around 06:15-20 while scanning the area of ​​the border buoys my eyes fell on a big and dark tern which sat on the southern most buoy’. At first I thought it was a Bridled Tern as for the last three days I’ve observed 4 - 9 individuals each morning fly around the bay, but after a few seconds 3 Bridled Terns landed next and immediately I could distinguish it and call it a Sooty Tern. The differences in colour (Sooty's darker back mantle and nape) and the difference in size (about 15% bigger from the 3 Bridled which just arrived) were all very clear!

After a long minute, in which I could study the differences in size and colour, all four terns took off aiming south. This allowed me an even better comparison of the differences in size and colour as well as noticing the great under wing contrast which is striking. The black trailing edge is becoming black under primaries rather than the whitish under primaries of Bridled. In flight this gave a very strong contrasting under-wing pattern.

The flight seemed to be heavier than the accompanied Bridled and also the tail seemed longer with a deeper fork (but this may have been a function of the size difference).

I’ve watched them for a minute or so till they disappeared in the south and approx’ 10 minutes later, I’ve found them again flying at sea and once again the contrasting under-wing was particularly noticeable as well as the size.

I have seen both species along the East African coastline before and today I’ve managed to see all the relevant identification signs apart from the white forehead and black eyestripe which I could not see due to distance and the dark under-tail which is diagnostic for Sooty.
If accepted (and I don't see a reason why not) it would be the 5th ever Israel record and my 1st in Israel.

Later this morning, another big tern landed on the same line and immediately identified as Lesser Crested Tern!
Throughout the morning about 9 White-cheeked Terns flew around (all adults and one juv’) as well as 7-8 Little Terns. Also present was a 2nd cal Parasitic Skua and Slender-billed and White-eyed Gulls.

This is how it looked on my Facebook...

Thursday, July 18

Red-billed Tropicbirds at the gulf

Late June 2001, while writing my final work for my B.Sc and before leaving Israel and going to start my life in East Africa, I was standing on North Beach in Eilat together with Barak Granit and admiring my first ever Red-billed Tropicbird which came in from nowhere and gave me my farewell present from Israel.
Last Sat' (12 years and one month later) I went out with Avi Meir and Ilan Biel to watch (and photograph) birds at the gulf. Once again, out of the blue sky an adult Red-billed Tropicbird which was later joined by another adult bird, flew overhead (too far and fast for the photographers) and made me a very very happy man. What an amazing bird with its long fluttering tail!

Since we did not get any photo of these birds we had to settle for a pair of White-cheeked Terns who were very friendly and allowed very close views.
By the end of the day we added also 3-4 Bridled Terns, 2 Arctic and 1 Pomarine Skua

Migration is starting to pick up very slow still, but surely there are new birds arriving daily:
Juv' Black-headed Gulls (the closest breeding is probably in Turkey?!)

Wader numbers are growing steadily with the first Little Stints & Greenshanks joining the groups of Green & Wood Sandpipers.
The first Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters were found today by Yaniv Basher and since i was around I've managed to get a 'digiIPhone' record shot...

Namaqua Doves are still being spotted daily in various places and Striated Herons are chasing one another when not fishing or modelling...

Friday, July 12

Nearly Autumn

It is mid July and the daily average temp' is around 35-37 deg' with daily max' temp raising to 40-42 (and sometime even higher up to 45-47). The nights are short with average temp of 27-29 with daily min' temp of 22-24 deg and yet, another Summer is going to come to its end soon and Autumn is already starting its swing...

Many juv' birds can be seen almost any where with local specials like this Little Green Bee-eater
Thick-billed Lark fledglings were seen and photographed around K20 by Shachar Shalev last Sat'

and as one comes to K20 the feeling is that the ponds are filled with juv' Black-winged Stilt and Kentish Plovers (which are finalising their 3rd brood for the season) 

While Greater Flamingo's are dancing 
and others are coming from afar (like this Turkish T/DCP).

At Yotveta, the Pharaoh Eagle Owl is present again
and Namaqua Doves can be seen almost daily in various places
A White Stork  was spotted this evening by the torch resting on a tree, I wonder if it is
one of the lingering ones we had during the summer or a new bird which have travelled from the north?!
Yesterday I've bumped into this 2nd Cal Sooty Falcon (a morph which I haven't seen too often before). Most of the birds are already on their territories and it won't be too long before we start seeing them displaying.

At the IBRCE ringing station the first Eastern Orphean Warblers are seen together with the returning Eastern Olivacous Warblers and the cheerful Rufus Bush Robins.

At North Beach we have great views of Striated Heron and groups of Little & Common Terns. Up to 8 Bridled Terns, 2-6 White-cheeked Terns, 1-3 Sooty Shearwaters are seen daily now from the coast.

Despite being still around mid July, I can really smell the Autumn in the air and hope to have more reports coming soon...