Saturday, 15 December 2012

Wheatear ringing

Last month I visited the N Judean Desert region several times, to obtain moult data. I aimed at wheatears and Southern Grey Shrikes.
Here are some images from those ringing sessions.

White-crowned Wheatear - juvenile

White-crowned Wheatear

Mourning Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear

Thanks to Ron, Rafi, Yael and Yotam for help in ringing and to Rafi also for the images.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Tzor'a update

Last week Hans Jurgen Eilts from Germany joined me to ring in Tzor'a Valley. Together we ringed about 300 birds. Late autumn migrants and first winter visitors were picking up: We ringed the first Robin, European Stonechat, Moustached Warbler and Chaffinch; Chiffchaffs and Bluethroats were also very common. The most interesting birds this week were the third River Warbler of this season - until this year I never had this species in autumn; the first Common Rosefinch this autumn and the second Wren ever ringed at Tzor'a, the previous one was ringed in February 2005.

River Warbler


Thanks to Hans for this nice week.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Tzor'a Ringing - September summary

Sorry for the delayed summary, lately I have been very busy.
So, September is the first month when we really feel the autumn. During 10 ringing sessions I caught 1038 birds of 50 species. Largest numbers were swallows with 415 individuals and Reed Warbler with 104 individuals.
On September 25th I ringed the first Golden Oriole for Tzor'a Ringing Station and on 28th the first ringed Eurasian Cuckoo. Other species worth noting were Water Rail (1), Corncrake (1), Zitting Cisticola (10), River Warbler (1) - only second for Tzor'a, Marsh Warbler (7) and Cretzschmar's Bunting (11).
I was ringing several times in a Paprika field, near my regular spot. This site was very productive with many Savi's Warbler, shrikes - including a nice wave of about 15 Lesser Grey Shrikes early in the month, also very nice flocks of Ortolan and Cretzschmar's Bunting. Late in the month the Alfalfa field became very productive with a few Lesser Kestrels and Red-footed Falcons and the regular huge flocks of Yellow Wagtails.

Eurasian Cuckoo

Zitting Cisticola

Cretzschmar's Bunting


House Martin

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Moult of the past

Last Sunday I visited in the Tel-Aviv University, Museum Zoological. My main goal was to obtain moult data from passerine skins preserved in their collection. It was very interesting and productive. Most interesting was to check several species that are very hard to trap. For each species I found many different individuals collected in different seasons.  This is very difficult to achieve in live birds. Most skins I checked were collected many years before I was born. See below some interesting examples.

White-throated Robin, adult male

Arabian Warbler

Striolated Bunting, male and female

Hooded Weatear, adult and juvenile

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Another Common Tern report, now from Belarus!

I received a report about another Common Tern I ringed in Atlit in first week of May, found in Belarus in late May. This is another piece added to the puzzle, showing that a massive wave of European Common Terns passes through Israel in few days in early May. That night 06-07/05 I controlled a Common Tern from Poland, and another one from that night was found in Hungary in June and now comes this report from Belarus. Three controls from 105 Common Terns in one night is fantastic, given that part of those terns are from the breeding population.
This Common Tern was found in Svisloch River, Minsk - 2426 km NNW to Atlit.
Thanks to Tatiana Pavlushchick from Belarus Bird Ringing Center for the interesting report and to Dmitry Goncharov for the discovery and photos.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Common Tern in Germany

I received a report about my Common Tern found in E Germany. The bird was ringed in Atlit in September 2010; it was the last Common Tern I ringed during 2010 season (!). It was found in fishponds of Tauerwiesen - Saxony (2646 km). Thanks to Hendrik Trapp for the report and photo.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Desert moult

Yesterday morning (05/08) I ringed in my regular site in the Judean Desert - Ein Salvadora. I was joined by Francis, Yael and Yotam. We had a nice catch, including 2 Sinai Rosefinches, 1 Trumpeter Finch, 3 Desert Larks, 15 Striolated Buntings and 1 Scrub Warbler. Most of the birds were in late stages of post breeding/juvenile moult.

Sinai Rosefinch - Post breeding moult

Scrub Warbler

In Tzor'a Valley the autumn is much more noticeable. One of the first true autumn birds in Tzor'a is Kingfisher; on 27/07 we ringed 4 Kingfishers and in the surroundings were a few more. Other autumn birds were 2 Savi's Warblers and many Reed Warblers. This was a highly successful mourning with 132 birds caught. Last Friday we ringed less birds (78), including 6 Kingfishers. On 31/07 I had a Reed Warbler control, the bird was ringed in the Hula Valley on June 24rd (163 km).


Savi's Warbler

Monday, 23 July 2012

Intensive summer

Recent weeks have been very intensive for me with lots of ringing. The breeding season was very successful at all of my ringing sites. In Tzor'a Valley every Friday session I catch about 100 birds. Last Friday I had 106 birds, with a nice surprise - an adult female Bluethroat; normally Bluethroats migrate through Israel during October-November and some stay for the winter. This bird was in active complete moult and probably failed to migrate north this year.


On Sunday morning I ringed in my CES and was positively surprised with 135 birds in very short time - it gets so hot so fast; the first net round produced 70 birds and fourth (and last) net round produced only one bird! 124 birds out of the total of 135 were Reed Warblers. A few Reed Warblers, especially adult birds, completed their partial body moult and had lots of fat, and probably started their autumn movement. One of those adult Reed Warbler showed an extraordinary moult strategy - an active primary moult. Normally this occurs on African wintering grounds.

In Atlit also very busy ringing as a result of very successful breeding season, most of the terns we ring are juveniles. Until today I ringed about 90 juvenile Little Terns, compared to 2010-11 in which I ringed about 30 juveniles per year. Also first autumn migrants are here with first shorebirds around and first White-winged Tern ringed.

White-winged Tern

Squacco Heron

In mid-July I joined to the annual Mt. Hermon ringing session, which was great fun but didn't produce any surprises. Although I ringed for the first time this beautiful male semirufus Black Redstart.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Sandwich Tern

On Sunday night (1/7) I ringed at Atlit. Nice catch of many juveniles, Little and Common Terns and a total of 62 terns caught included one Sandwich Tern. Sandwich Tern is common in winter and on migration but is fairly rare in summer. This is 2nd calendar year bird and that doesn't breed yet, and is probably roaming the seas - although it breeds not too far away: last winter we received our first control of Sandwich Tern in Israel, from Bulgaria.
Another nice anecdote: on previous Sunday I ringed a Little Tern chick with wing-length of 108mm; this Sunday it got recaptured with wing-length of 135mm - 27mm growth in one week, 3.9mm per day on average this is fast!
Thanks to Francis and Rafi for their help this night.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Common Tern in Hungary!

I received a report about one of my Commons Tern, seen in Hungary. This is the first foreign report of a tern I ringed in this project and the first Israeli Common Tern recovery or control from Hungary. Thanks to Andras Fodor for this interesting report.

I0E in Hungary

On Sunday (24/06) I resumed the tern ringing efforts in Atlit; now in the colony many chicks have fledged. They sit on the ground and every adult that flies above is welcomed with screams and open bills. In total, 45 terns were caught, of which 29 Common Terns with a first flying juvenile and 16 Little Terns with 10 juveniles. Also I ringed some early autumn migrants, as every year they're waders, that night I had 2 Redshanks and 1 Greenshank.

Little Tern - juvenile

See below a few screenshots from the web camera in tern colony:

In Tzor'a the breeding season is also very good and productive with many warblers. Last Friday (22/06) we caught 186 birds with massive effort, most were Reed Warblers, Cetti's Warblers, Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, Clamorous Reed-Warblers and Sardinian Warblers. In CES (28/06) also nice catch with very few species: 70 birds, 68 of them were Reed Warblers.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Moody Mt. Hermon ringing

Every summer we meet on Mt. Hermon to ring and monitor the special bird community of this special habitat. Our main session occurs in mid July, but this year I decided to join the June session as well, organized by Nadav and the Hula Valley team.
This year is poor for ringing on Mt. Hermon and very good for breeding. The winter was good with lots of snow still remaining on the higher elevations. Most seedeaters drink from the snow on the top, and fewer birds came down to drink in the ringing site pools. During Thursday afternoon and Friday morning we caught only 175 birds including a few recaptures from previous years. Like every year the most common species were Linnet, Goldfinch and Syrian Serin, but we also ringed other regular breeding birds: Lesser Whitethroat, Woodchat Shrike, Rock Bunting and 1 beautiful male Black-headed Bunting.

Syrian Serin

Other Hermon animals we met during this session were a big Four-lined Snake (Elaphe quatuorlineat) and Savi's Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus savii). For both species N Israel is the southernmost tip of their global distribution. The Four-lined Snake is common only on Mt. Hermon and was discovered there for the first time only in 1971. The Savi's Pipistrelle was described for the first time in N Israel in 1988.

Savi's Pipistrelle

I hope our July session will be more productive for ringing.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Modern bird research

Who says that bird research always involves waking up very early, driving many kilometers, suffering from cold / hot / rain / mud etc., all with clumsy optics and heavy rucksack? Not anymore.
As part of the tern conservation project in Atlit, web cameras were installed inside the tern colony for supervision of this sensitive site. Yesterday evening I studied the terns without drive, wind, heat or disturbance to the breeding birds. I sat on my comfortable computer chair with a cup and enjoyed birdwatching. The camera has a speaker and I could hear the terns screaming in live broadcast to my home. See below a few screenshots from last evening.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Two days ago (05/06) I ringed at JBO, quite a poor morning. After two nice months of spring migration the silence in area is very jarring. I caught 15 birds, most were late migrants that probably won't make it anywhere. Apart from this, there were only few juveniles of breeding population species. Most migrants were found around our Mulberry Trees, with the last berries remaining on those trees.

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

After the moody report above, happier news came from Tzor'a. I ringed on Friday and discovered the fruits of a very successful breeding season. Eight nets for four hours produced a very busy morning. Most birds were Reed Warblers and Cetti's Warblers, but also present were other local species.
Compared to last year in same date and same nets:
2011: 44 birds, 2012: 84 birds
2011: 13 females with brood patch, 2012: 12 females with brood patch
2011: 7 fledglings, 2012: 27 fledglings
2011: 0.5 fledglings per breeding female, 2012: 2.3 fledglings per breeding female