Thursday, 28 July 2011

From the high Shomron

This week I ringed at Mt. Grizim, high Shomron (850 m), this is Mediterranean garrigue with scattered scrub and some olive trees, mainly exposed and windy slopes. Most species inhabiting this extreme habitat are adapted to live in dry and barren landscape.  My captures included a few locals such as Blackbirds, Sardinian Warblers and Linnets, a few migrants such as Lesser Whitethroat. The highlights were an adult Balkan Warbler with nice moult limit in the wing, and juvenile Spectacled Warbler during their active partial post juvenile moult; this was the first for me in the hand.

Spectacled Warbler - juvenile

Balkan Warbler - adult

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Barn Owl takes a death-ride

As part of the pest control via Barn Owls and Kestrels project, every year hundreds of nestlings of Barn Owls and Kestrels ringed. Annually, we receive tens of reports about unlucky juveniles that get themselves killed in various methods.
On July 18th we received an exceptional report about a ringed owl found dead on a service vehicle belonging to the Israeli Electric Company. After a short investigation the details became clear: the dead owl carrying ring GG-22439 was found on the vehicle in Taibe in N Israel, but the vehicle had driven during the previous night from Be'er-Sheva to Taibe (about 120 km). Its original ringing site was close to the road between Be'er-Sheva and Taibe, so the bird must have been hit by the vehicle and carried on it northward. We will never know exactly where this bird was run over.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Answer from Germany

I received the ringing details about the Germania Common Tern that was controlled at Atlit on 13/07 (see below). The bird was ringed in NE Germany, on the Baltic Coast, in 2007 as a breeding adult (2880 km); it was documented again in same place also in 2008 and 2010. This is very interesting; I am looking forward to other exciting news from this project.
Meanwhile, here are Long-eared Owl images that was ringed yesterday at JBO.

Monday, 18 July 2011

One night two controls!

Before going up to the Mt. Hermon ringing session, I made the correct decision and visited Atlit. The catch included 59 Common Terns, 12 Little Terns, 2 White-winged Terns and 1 Redshank. Two of the Common Terns were controls, one from Lithuania and another from Germany! This is an amazing incident in Israeli standards. The potential distance from the ringing sites might be 2500-3000 km; I was never aware of such early autumn migration of Common Terns. I am eagerly waiting for the answers from Lithuania and Germany, but I'm sure they will be interesting.
Two foreign rings in one ringing session - it's a first for me!
Thanks to Yotam, Rea, Gilad, Avishai and Yohay.

White-winged Tern



Sunday, 17 July 2011

Mt. Hermon annual ringing session

Every summer most of Israel's ringers meet on Mt. Hermon, for the annual ringing session. Mt. Hermon is the highest mountain in Israel (2272 m ASL on the Israeli part of the mountain), with unique weather, flora and fauna. We have been monitoring bird populations on Mt. Hermon since the late 1970's. Our ringing session takes place in a major drinking site, and most birds coming in to drink are seed-eating passerines. The main species are Syrian Serin, Linnet, Goldfinch, Rock and Black-headed Bunting, and many other Hermon specialties such as Sombre Tit and Western Rock Nuthatch.

Rock Bunting

Syrian Serin

Black-headed Bunting

Sombre Tit


This ringing session was highly successful, with many old friends and good birds. Thanks to all.

Desert Passerines at Judean Desert

On July 12th I returned to my regular ringing site in the Judean Desert for the  first time this summer. My main aims of this ringing activity are to study the identification and moult patterns of desert passerines, especially Striolated Bunting but others too. I caught 16 birds: 13 Striolated Buntings (one recapture from last year), 1 Sinai Rosefinch and 2 Desert Larks - all rather scruffy-looking during their post-breeding or juv. moult. At first light we heard a Hume's Owl calling from the cliffs above the spring. Around the spring we had all the regular animals and birds of Judean Desert: Eurasian Griffon, Egyptian Vulture, Sand Partridges, Little Green Bee-eaters, Rock Martins, White-crowned Wheatears, Tristram's Grackles, Nubian Ibexes and Golden spiny Mouse (only Leopard was missing…).

Sinai Rosefinch - first summer male

Striolated Bunting - male

Striolated Bunting - post-breeding complete moult

Striolated Bunting - female

Dead sea

See more from last summer.
Thanks to Eli for the important help.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Common Tern recovery brings a Black Stork control

On July 2nd I received a report about one of our ringed Common Tern. The bird was seen and photographed at Hazorea Fishponds by Lavi Lilo, 19 km SE inland from the ringing site at Atlit Salt-pans. In my answer to Lavi I asked him whether he's ever photographed other ringed birds. With his swift reply were images of a juvenile Black Stork with a metal ring only, photographed in north Israel last autumn.
From the image we could read only following details:
____ RIA
____ OFIA
____ 33

This is BULGARIA BAN SOFIA, of course, and I hoped that two final digits combined with the known age of the bird were enough to specifically identify the individual. So, I sent the data request to Boris Nikolov from Bulgarian Ornithological Center. After a few days I got from him the complete details with following story:
'The juvenile bird was transferred during June 2010 from Vranyak village, Vratsa region to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre run by "Green Balkans" Federation in Stara Zagora, as part of a brood of 3 chicks that was rescued from a fallen nest. The already grown bird was released nearby the Centre in August 2010, together with both its siblings.'
This is the first Bulgarian BS control in Israel, although we have many from central and east Europe. This is because Bulgaria does not take part in the European BS colour ringing project.
Thanks to Lavi for the reports and great images and to Boris for sharing the data with us.

Monday, 4 July 2011

First autumn migrant

My recent Atlit ringing session produced a handful of Common and Little Terns; one Little Tern was a recently-fledged juvenile - first for this season. Before folding the nets I caught a Redshank - my first autumn migrant for the autumn. Hopefully many more will follow.

Little Tern


Friday, 1 July 2011

Red-rumped Swallow roost

Last evening (29/06) I joined to Yotam Lenard and his team for ringing at a Red-rumped Swallow roost. Most of our efforts in swallow roosts is for Barn Swallows, so this ringing session is less usual for us. This particular RRS roost takes place in old and abandoned quarry; in winter the quarry collects some water and the result is a rather small and poor reedbed. But, it's located in the Jerusalem mountains, so probably this is the only reedbed in the whole region and the best site for swallow roost.
Our goal is to understand the difference in biometrics between sexes, following the conclusion that Svensson's measurements are not relevant to Israeli populations. We captured 137 swallows, about 90% were juvenile birds; probably most of the adults are still busy with their second breeding cycle. One bird was recaptured from last summer. This is the highest record of RRS ringing in Israel. I look forward to continue this monitoring.
Thank to Yotam, Gidon, Eli, Shachar, Chen, Ron and Otniel.

Red-rumped Swallow - adult

RRS - juvenile