Sunday, 28 August 2011

Reed Warbler from Hungary

Last Friday (26/08) I ringed at Tzor'a reservoir. Massive and earlier than usual passage produced a very nice catch of 88 birds from 20 species. To top this, two controls made this a really great ringing session. First control was a Kingfisher that had been ringed on 15/08 in Nativ Ha'Lamed Hei; 10 km SE by Ron Haran. The second was a first calendar year Reed Warbler with BUDAPEST new and shiny ring.
38 Reed Warblers were ringed - exceptionally earlier and unusual passage; during the last four years (2007-10) I ringed only 5-14 Reed Warblers on this day. Other interesting birds ringed were: 1 Turtle Dove, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Barn Swallow, 3 Great-reed Warblers, 7 Savi's Warblers, 5 Sedge Warbler and 1 Marsh Warbler.

Yellow Wagtail - adult male, feldegg 

Yellow Wagtail - juvenile female


The Barn Swallow was a juvenile of the local population and was in active primary moult - complete or suspended moult. The first year birds of this population perform their post-juvenile moult immediately after they fledge, unlike the European populations that perform this moult later, on African wintering grounds.

Turtle Dove

Sedge Warbler

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Another successful night at Atlit

Last night (22-23/08) I had another tern ringing session at Atlit saltpans. The catch included 29 Common Terns, 5 Little Terns, 1 Whiskered Tern (first to me in the hand), 1 Greenshank and 1 Kingfisher. One of the Little Terns was an ancient control; B-83037 was ringed as pullus at the same site in July 1994 (17 years!).

Oldest Little Tern - winter plumage

Ancient and worn ring

Whiskered Tern


Greenshank - active moult

On Sunday (21/08), I caught my first Bran Swallows to autumn at Tzor'a Valley - hopefully many more will follow.

Barn Swallow

Saturday, 20 August 2011

True migration

Last Friday (19/08) I ringed at Tzor'a reservoir. This ringing session produced a great catch. Most noticeable was an early wave of Acrocephalus and Savi's Warblers, most adults, as expected from birds that perform complete moult in their African wintering grounds. Normally this wave passes through this area about week or more later.
The catch included 11 Common Kingfishers (all Juv.), 9 Great-reed Warblers, 6 Savi's Warblers, 1 Sedge Warbler (first this autumn), 1 Marsh Warbler, 4 Clamorous-reed Warblers and 17 Reed Warblers, total of 65 birds.

Marsh Warbler - juvenile

Notch on 2nd P = 8.0 mm

One juvenile Savi's Warbler showed an irregular moult strategy; this bird performed a complete moult, renewed most of the flight feathers and retained few primaries and secondaries; this strategy is called arrested moult. Another irregularity about this bird's moult pattern is the late stage of the moult; the innermost tails feathers and primaries are not full grown yet; Savi's Warblers only migrate through Tzor'a Valley (though they bred here till the 1980's) and most birds do not moult during active migration. So this bird is either an odd individual or perhaps hatched in the near area, maybe Hula Valley, either way it's very interesting.

Savi's Warbler - arrested moult

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Two recoveries from last week

Recently I got two reports about Tzor'a Valley's birds. The first is a Reed Warbler ringed at Tzor'a reservoir on March 2010, recaptured at Croatia on 08/08/11, 2081 km from the original ringing site; this is only the second Israeli control in Croatia, the previous occurred in 1970. Second is a female Blackcap found run over at Glava, Sweden at the end of June, 3507 km from the ringing site. This is certainly good news and a very good reward for our extensive effort, on average I get one recovery during a year; these together with the Song Thrush found in Cyprus on January are already three!
Last Friday I ringed, as always, at Tzor'a Valley; the autumn is advancing with the first 2 Great-reed Warblers, 1 Savi's Warbler, 4 Kingfishers and a few Reed Warblers. Nets on the reservoir shore produced 3 waders: Ruff, Common Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper.

Ruff - juvenile female

Common Sandpiper - juvenile

Common Ringed Plover - adult female

 Great-reed Warbler - adult

Friday, 12 August 2011

Hot nights at Atlit saltpans

Last night (10-11/08) I had another great tern ringing session at Atlit. We (Re'a, Avishai and myself) set the nets up in evening, as usual, when many terns and tens of shore birds were around. One Eurasian Curlew was flying around us, being very vocal; this bird found its way into our net quickly after the nets were up. Eurasian Curlew is a regular but scarce migrant in Israel - it was the first for us in the hand and probably the first ringed in Israel after many years.

The night continued with a nice catch that included 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Little Stints, 1 first calendar year Slender-billed Gull, 1 Kingfisher (night migration?) and, of course, many terns with 36 Common Terns and 13 Little Terns. For dessert we caught a juvenile Black Tern! In Israel this species is less common than White-winged Tern, we have never caught a Black Tern before, so after short discussion about the identification of Black/White-winged Terns in this difficult plumage the ID was confirmed.

It was very interesting for us to study the different stages in juvenile tern moult. After fledging the neck and wing-coverts pattern is very brown-grey with many dark crescents; this pattern quickly disappears through moult into pure grey feathers. Tonight we had a large range of these Little Tern plumages; the early 'crescent-plumaged' birds were also short billed and short winged, according to their young age.

Eurasian Curlew

Curlew Sandpiper
Slender-billed Gull
Black Tern

Monday, 8 August 2011

First Kingfisher!

My significant indication that autumn has really arrived in Tzor'a valley is the first Kingfisher of the season. This happened on Friday (05/08). We also had our first Savi's Warbler, usually both species arrive together, and more and more migrant Reed Warblers with full fat cavities and long wings. Another nice bird today was a male Little Bittern.
Around was nice flock of swallows, most Red-rumped. On the reservoir beach were about 100 shorebirds: Black-winged Stilts, Common, Wood and Green Sandpipers and Ruffs.
After ringing I went to Hulda reservoir. It was full of birds, mostly regular stuff, but a flock of about 50 Ferruginous Duck was very nice.
At the JBO, first Redstart of the season was a 1cy male; it was an Ehrenberg's Redstart, samamisicus form of Common Redstart, with only limited white on the tertial edges.
On Tuesday I join Ohad and went to Hula Nature Reserve to ring Common Tern chicks; we ringed about 20 chicks and I hope to see them in Atlit or get from them foreign regards.
Another full ringing week has ended.

Little Bittern


Savi's Warbler

Palestine Sunbird - first year male, active moult
Ehrenberg's Redstart

Monday, 1 August 2011

Real autumn migration

Last night I ringed at Atlit saltpans, the capture was slow but Sandwich Tern and a few waders were a refreshing change. Sandwich Tern is a first to me in the hand, I was surprised by the differences between Sandwich and Common Terns; Sandwich is a considerably more massive bird in the hand. Other birds ringed were a few Common and Little Terns, Common Sandpipers and Little Stint.

Sandwich Tern

Little Stint

At the JBO, the warbler migration has become stronger, mainly with Eastern Orphean Warblers, Lesser Whitethroats and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers. Adult passerines which undergo partial post-breeding moult and undergo their complete moult at African wintering grounds migrate before their juveniles; Olivaceous Warbler is an example of this strategy. But species such as Eastern Orphean Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat which undergo complete or suspended post-breeding moult at breeding site, before their autumn migration, migrate after their juveniles. Today I ringed the first adult Eastern Orphean Warbler with suspended moult, was easily differentiated from the post juvenile partial moult.

Lesser Whitethroat - juvenile

Orphean Warbler: adult after post-breeding suspended moult - secondaries
 pre-breeding, rest wing post-breeding

Orphean Warbler: 1y after post-juvenile partial moult - LC, MC
 and 5-10GC post-juv. rest wing juv. plumage

Orphean Warbler - adult

Other photographs were taken at the Tzoraa valley and from another visit to the Judean Desert.

Pied Kingfisher - Tzoraa valley

Desert Lark - Judean Desert

Striolated Bunting - Judean Desert