Saturday, 18 December 2010

IBRCE Update - Bonelli’s Eagle and more

Re'a Shaish reported from Eilat Ringing Station:
On the 5ht December, afternoon, Tzadok got some interesting field intelligence from Itai Shani, which reported a Bonelli’s Eagle hunting pigeons and doves around the K19 cowsheds. The next morning, Tzadok and I drove towards the location eager to locate and trap the bird. After an hour or so the beast showed itself, perched on the cowsheds roof. The trap was placed, and after a few minutes the eagle was caught (!). A shiver went through my spine as I first lay hands on this amazing raptor. We took the bird down to the ringing station, collected the data, took some photos and quickly released it.

The Eagle was aged 3rd calendar year, having 2 retained juvenile secondaries and primaries together with two generations of adult flight feathers, as well as buff-orange wash to breast. The weight of the bird is mediocre; 2050 gr. was not helping determine its sex.
The fearsome hind claw, 39 mm, and culmen, 31.6 mm, were definitely a refreshing change from the Eurasian Sparrowhawks we catch these days…

Trapping of Bonelli’s Eagle is extremely rare in Israel. Being a rare passage migrant and scarce winter visitor, might also be breeding in the Jordanian side of the border, in the area, this bird is a perfect combination between a 'good bird' for me as a birdwatcher and a very impressive and challenging bird to ring.
Thanks to Itai for the information help in ringing.

Other than that ringing is going slow down here with wintering Bluethroats, Chiffchaffs, Sardinian Warblers, etc. And some nice routine breakers such as Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Long Eared Owl, and Purple Heron; all caught recently.

We will be glad to see you all at the IBRCE,
Re’a & Tzadok

Friday, 10 December 2010

Short visit in Hula Valley Ringing Station

Short morning at Hula Valley produce a few nice ringed birds: Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Dunnock, Common Rosefinch, Reed Bunting and more. Around were about 30,000 Cranes, many others waterfowl and raptors, include few impressive Lesser Spotted, Greater Spotted and Imperial Eagles, Marsh, Hen and Pallid Harriers, Peregrine, Buzzards and more - This is obviously a wonderful valley!

Common Buzzard


Hula Valley

Few from last week:

Green Sandpiper

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Stonechat Complication

Last Sunday (28/11) I ringed a Stonechat at Tzor'a alfalfa field. In the net I saw wide paler upper-tail coverts and rump and I thought "what's that? Is it an Eastern or European Stonechat? No, it's a regular European Stonechat". After I ringed it, I looked again with more attention and I saw a regular Stonechat, slightly paler than European and with an off-white-buff upper-tail coverts and rump, typically for an eastern form. Another typical difference between eastern and European Stonechat is wing-length, the eastern is somewhat longer with 71-75 mm (n=3, Tzor'a Valley) and European 64-71 mm (n=63, Tzor'a Valley), it was 67 - good for European, too short for Eastern Stonechat.
Another typical difference is the colour of rectrices base in males. In European Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) it is a dark brown-grey, in Caucasian and Armenian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus variegate/armenica) it is clearly pure white, about quarter in Armenian and half in Caucasian. In Eastern Stonechat (Saxicola maurus maura) there is no white or only slightly at the base. But also in 'maura' Eastern Stonechat there could be white on base of rectrices, but under the upper-tail coverts, seen only in hand. This Stonechat shows clearly 10 mm white on base of its rectrices, but this is a problem because of our limited experience with that ID sign.

The Stonechat - first winter male, wing 67 mm

About 10 mm white on base of the rectrices

To copmare birds:

Caucasian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus variegate) first
winter male, wing 71 mm

European Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) first winter
male, wing 65 mm

Eastern Stonechat (Saxicola maurus) first winter female, wing 68.5 mm

Caucasian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus variegate) adult male, wing 75 mm

European Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) first winter male, wing 67 mm

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The chicken morning

Last Friday at Tzor'a about 50 birds, but smelly Coot and Moorhen in the net were nice. Other birds included mostly winter stuff - the numbers and variety of birds ringed is going down. At the Jerusalem Bird Observatory only few birds every morning, most are recaptured Robins. No birds and no Rain!

Meadow Pipit



Thursday, 25 November 2010

Late autumn routine

After the great rush and adrenalin we had here earlier this autumn, things are settling down for the winter. Not that this routine is bad! Ringing at Tzor'a Valley is still good with about 100 birds every session, with recent goodies including Night Heron on 21/11, Pied Kingfisher, Moustached Warbler, Brambling, and another Common Rosefinch. Most birds ringed are Bluethroat, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch and Cetti's Warbler (ssp. retrapus, of course). Most interesting were 11 Penduline Tits - lovely birds! I was happy to have a group of high school biology specialization kids, who came to study about bird ringing and ecology.

Penduline Tit

Corn Bunting

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

European White Stork controls

Every year in early autumn (August-September) 500,000 White Storks pass over Israel, mostly above the eastern Israel. Last season Helmut Eggers from Germany spent a few weeks reading White Stork rings in the Bet-Shean Valley and read about 120 rings. Recently I got answers from European ringing schemes - from Hiddensee and Helgoland (Germany) and from the Croatian Ringing Center. I am still waiting for answers from Poland, Radolfzell, Estonia, Hungary and Slovakia. Most of the storks were ringed as pullus in their nests in Europe. In our database we have about 450 White Stork foreign controls; most were read in the field or found dead. This is one of the species with the largest number of controls, after Lesser Black-backed Gull and Black Stork.

White Stork migration
German ringed White Stork - September 2010, Bet-Shean Valley

Thanks to Helmut Eggers for his effort and report, to Liron Ziv for his images and to the European ringing schemes for supplying their ringing data.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Exciting autumn in the Judean Plains

Last week I ringed twice at Tzor'a. This is a very good ringing season in our region. Every session we ring 100-200 birds of many species, 24-29 bird species every session! My highlight last week was a Yellow-browed Warbler on 08/11 - tick for me. Other exciting species included Water Rail, Jack Snipe, 2 Pied Kingfishers, Moustached Warbler, Caucasian Stonechat, Common Rosefinch and first Bramblings of the season.

Yellow-browed Warbler
Jack Snipe

On 08/11 I ringed for the first time this season at the finch roost in Tzor'a Valley citrus plantations. This is a big citrus plantation and it hosts about 50,000 finches for roosting every night in winter, 90% of them are Chaffinch, but also Linnet, Brambling, Greenfinch, Song Thrushes and others coming to the huge roost. In the last four years I ringed in this roost about 8,500 birds (7,000 were Chaffinch). We (Ron, Yotam, Shabi and Marco) ringed about 100 birds; most were Chaffinch with a few recaptures from previous years, Robins, Song Thrushes, Greenfinch, Brambling and for dessert - one Common Rosefinch.

Ron, Yotam and Song Thrushes
Common Rosefinch
Water Rail

First Hawfinch this season was ringed at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory.



Sunday, 7 November 2010

Israel's first Kentish Plover control!

Last Monday (01/11) Tamir Siman-Tov reported a colour ringed Kentish Plover from Ma'agan Michael beach. After some correspondence with European shorebird ringers I contacted the right colour-ringing scheme; the head of this scheme is Dr. Andras Kosztolanyi, and he kindly reported all ringing data. This adult male Kentish Plover was ringed at Tuzla Lake in southern Turkey at its active nest; that same day also its mate and one chick were ringed, and the family stayed in the area until at least 24/06/2009 when the fieldwork at that site ended. This is the first Israeli Kentish Plover control; the distance between the ringing and finding places is only 459 km but this information about short-distance dispersal is extremely important. Kentish Plovers are endangered throughout the eastern Mediterranean region.
Thanks to Tamir Siman-Tov for his report and images and to Dr. Andras Kosztolanyi for the ringing data.

Turkish Kentish Plover

Some nice birds I ringed during the last days were a Red-breasted Flycatcher on 28/10, Cyprus Warbler on 01/11, both at JBO, Two Common Rosefinches on 29/10 and Starling (my first in the hand) on 31/10 in Tzor'a - all juveniles and very ugly birds…

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Masked Shrike
Cyprus Warbler

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Finnish crane in Israel

Itai Shanni the crane researcher reports:
Today (28/10) a Finnish colour-ringed Eurasian Crane was observed at Agamon Lake, Hula valley. This individual was ringed as pullus on July 2008 at Joensuu, Pohjois-Karjala, Finland, and was seen for the first time at the Agamon in October 2008 together with its family as it lingered for a few days before heading south to Africa. It was seen again in November 2009 as an adult and overwintered in the Hula valley. We have had a few Finnish crane controls, but all were migrants, seen passing through in autumn or spring, but this one was the first overwintering Finnish-ringed crane in Israel. Today it returned once more and was seen together with about 20,000 cranes at the Agamon. Will it stay for the winter or will it continue south?
Thanks to Itai Shanni for informing us and also to Jukka Matero from Finland for the lovely images.

As pullus - Finland

With the ringer Kimmo Koskela - Finland

At Hula Valley, 2009