Sunday, 30 October 2011

High efforts around reservoir

Last Friday (28/10) I ringed around the Tzor'a reservoir. Joined by many friends, we were an effective team with two 'A' ringers, four 'B' ringers and a few more 'C' ringers. We opened more net than usual, a total of 220 meters compared to an average of 100 meters that I normally use at this ringing site. A few nets had only two shelves but it's a similar effort to set them up. Our effort produced a nice catch; not great, but I can't complain. We caught 156 birds from 25 species, most were Bluethroats (48) and Phylloscopus warblers (37). These days most Acrocephalus warblers and Willow Warblers have left south and the next massive migrant, Chiffchaff, has not arrived yet in significant numbers.
So what we had except Bluethroats and Phylloscopus warblers:
Little Bittern (1), Water Rail (1), Moorhen (1), White Wagtail (1), Kingfisher (10), Stonechat (2), Whinchat (1), Moustached Warbler (3), Marsh warbler (1), Reed Warbler (18), Sedge Warbler (2), Great Reed Warbler (7), Clamorous Reed Warbler (1), Spanish Sparrow (6) and  Serin (2) - first this season; other regular stuff included Cetti's Warbler, Graceful Prinia, Blackbird, Spectacled Bulbul and Sardinian Warbler.


This is a nice period for birding in Tzor'a Valley. During ringing I saw a few raptors overhead, Long-legged Buzzard and Sparrowhawk, ducks and many herons in the reservoir, including at least one Purple Heron. As I drove out at the alfalfa I saw five Red-footed Falcons and many pipits.
Thanks to my dedicated team for their efforts this morning.


Wednesday, 26 October 2011


Between Sunday and Tuesday (23-25/10) I ringed at the Tzor'a Valley Ringing Station, with Ron, Ayla, Aviad and Yishai. On Sunday morning we were ringing at the Tzor'a Reservoir, nice catch and nice variety of species. Towards the end of ringing, while Ayla, Yishai and I were ringing, we heard Ron's happy cry from the nets; after a few minutes he and Aviad came back from the nets with a smile he could not hide and hung one bag on my 'from Europe' hook. I couldn't wait and took the bird, Willow Warbler, ring on left leg (in Israel ring only on right), unfamiliar address, STAV… STAVANGER! Yes, it's Norway! The full address is STAVANGER MUS. NORWAY - great! I know this species comes from N Europe and Russia and migrates to S Africa, but Norway is far and to see this 9.0 gr. long-distance migrant is exciting.


The Norway Ringing Center was very efficient; I sent the data on Sunday evening and got the answer on Monday. The bird was ringed in Malselv, Troms, N Norway (4,225 km), on 20/08/2011. This bird is an adult with arrested moult and wing length only 67.5 mm; in Israel we have ringed lots of long-winged Willow Warblers, more than 70 mm; now I ask myself from where did they come? N Russia?

Norwegian Willow Warbler

During these days we caught 419 birds, 95 of them were recaptures. Most birds ringed were Bluethroats (83), Chiffchaff (49) and Reed Warbler (44). Other firsts for this season and arrivals for the winter included: Robins (3), White Wagtails (24), Stonechats (6) and Song Thrush. Other interesting birds were 5 Moustached Warblers, 2 Whinchats and juvenile Moorhen. One of interesting recaptures was Clamorous Reed Warbler BB-25128 ringed on 11/10/2004, in the second ringing session at Tzor'a!

Moustached Warbler



On Sunday evening a family of cranes, male, female and their juvenile were found in the reservoir. The adults couldn't fly and their distress produced a lot of noise. In the morning we caught the adults by hand. Although cranes are very strong, they are very sensitive birds. We sent them to the Wildlife Hospital with Dekel, the NPA ranger. Their problem is not clear but after short treatment they were returned to Tzor'a.

On Friday (21/10) we held our IBRC annual meeting, it was fun to see old friends.

Today (26/10) I ringed at JBO and caught this nice female Hawfinch - welcome winter…

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Red-breasted Flycatcher

This morning I ringed again at Tzor'a reservoir; produce nice catch of 76 birds. My highlight this morning was a juvenile Red-breasted Flycatcher - first for Tzor'a Valley Ringing Station. Another exciting bird was a Moustached Warbler, first for this season; most birds caught were Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Bluethroats.

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Moustached Warbler

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Willow Warblers with unusual moult

Last days I ringed 7 Willow Warbler with suspended/arrested moult. Those were characterized by 2-4 unmoulted secondaries.  Normally, the adults of these perform a complete moult before autumn migration. The Willow Warbler is one of few species that complete two moult cycles every year. First I found birds with such irregular moult at the JBO (11/10) and I was very excited about this, but next morning (12/10) I caught another two individuals with such moult in Tzor'a Valley; both had unmoulted secondaries and a few lesser or median coverts; and on Wednesday morning another four birds. In his guide, Lars Svensson does not note this interrupted moult but I found this article discussing Willow Warbler's unusual moult from Sweden, describing a moult strategy similar to my birds. However, until today I have ringed several thousand Willow Warblers and have never seen this irregular moult before.

Two unmoulted secondaries

Unmoulted lesser and median coverts

Three unmoulted secondaries

In recent days I have ring many birds in Tzor'a Valley; three last ringing sessions produced 625 birds, most were Barn Swallows and Willow Warblers. Two new species for this season included Grey Wagtail and Wood Warbler; the juvenile Little Bittern and 2 Marsh Warblers were also nice.

Many swallows

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Zambia is also very distant…

Yesterday I got the recovery details of the Safring Barn Swallow controlled at Tzor'a Valley Ringing Station two weeks ago. The bird was ringed in Huntley's Farm, Chisamba, Zambia in January 2011 as part of a swallow project carried out by Bennie van den Brink. The distance between the ringing sites is 5,228 km, my farthest and first from Africa for Tzor'a Valley Ringing Station. I uploaded a map in Tzor'a page, see here. Thanks to Bennie van den Brink and to Henri Bouwmeester.

Last days I was very busy with ringing. Starting with Monday and Tuesday mornings at JBO, that produced nice sessions with good passage of Common Redstart. Juvenile Ruppell's Warbler and Collared Flycatcher were the most interesting.
On Wednesday I started with a great alfalfa ringing session that produced 249 birds. Most were Yellow Wagtails, but also 11 Red-throated Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 3 Fan-tailed Cisticolas and a few Willow Warblers. Every autumn I spend a few mornings ringing Yellow Wagtails in the alfalfa fields, but this season those flocks were absent and only now arrived the first significant flock with about 5,000 birds. Thanks to Francis, Avishai and Yishai.

The alfalfa field

Ruppell's Warbler

I ringed in a swallow roost every day this week. Most swallows have already moved south, but a few flocks are still coming down to roost. One Nightjar was also caught after I extracted the swallows from the nets, a first to Tzor'a ringing.


Little Bittern E-17994 was ringed two weeks ago and recaptured 13 days later. The bird is in active moult and I documented the moult sequence. At first P7 was growing, and 13 days later P10 was growing, see images.

Now I returned home and my inbox is full with about 100 German and Polish White Stork recoveries - lots of boring work.

My inbox today