Thursday, 20 February 2014

Ringing Break

With ringing in February as slow as Martin Demichelis (the centre half of man city for those only interested in tits and bulbuls), I joined with Meidad for a night safari deep in the Judean desert in search of the legendary Hume's owl. We met with Yoav Pearlman and his group of Dutch birders at the entrance to a wadi and after introductions, coffee and with darkness setting in, the tape of the owls call was played. after what seemed like a lifetime of waiting, nothing and so with the light of the full moon of we set deeper into the wadi. two more stops like the first and was this going to be my normal wildlife experience, well no because on the fourth stop about 2km into the wadi and with everyone becoming resigned to missing out, the unmistakable call was heard. Yoav quickly located the bird with his spotlight and everyone got some terrific views of this almost mythical bird. with everyone well chuffed Yoav suggested we go see the Nubian nightjars that were close by. So two lifers in the night made for a very satisfying and enjoyable evening. many thanks to Yoav for letting us join. And here's a couple of photos taken by Meidad.

Hume's Owl

Nubian nightjar

Sunday, 2 February 2014

New Year: new commitment

So the New Year brings a resolution that i will update this blog on a regular basis.
January in the life of a bird ringer is not the most exciting month. There are very few birds around, and out patch is virtually empty of overwintering it was with great anticipation that Eran and I set off for Nafcha sewage ponds. We set up nets in the olive grove, among the grape vines and around the pond and low and behold we caught birds, 30 new birds, that's not many i hear you cry, but last January we caught only 26 in 12 sessions at the pistachio plantation. So this was were the birds hung out during winter. Another session was organised and guests were invited. Francis came from the far away Hula and Yoram and Nevo Biton came from the much closer Yoracham. there was a high number of re-traps showing this to be a major wintering site for some species, but there was still 26 new birds to keep us happy including a first for the Ramat Hanegev region. Looking like an undersized water pipit with a faint buffish tinge to the underparts, paler lores and a weaker bill with more reddish brown legs, yes you've guessed it we had a buff-bellied pipit. only a handful of these arecaught within Israel every year so that was a good way to start the year!

Buff-bellied pipit

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Orrible January

January out here in the desert is not a great time for ringing, Firstly its damn cold, the nets have been frozen a couple of times when i've been out to them, its also wet this is the wettest month of the year, its rained at least 4 days and one of them was on a scheduled ringing morning, bummer. But the biggest factor is there are very few birds around! still we caught a few and managed to ring the 100th species for the greater Sde Boker region ( all be it the 99th for my main station in the pistachio plot) and what a beauty it was two, a 2cy male great spotted cuckoo. so due to the lack of activity and Chris not sending me the latest photos yet heres some from late last year.

Southern grey shrike

yellow wagtail

Isabelline Wheatear

Saharan horned viper

Black eared wheatears

White breasted kingfisher


Palestine sunbird

Saturday, 14 January 2012

yearly summary

finally back online after nearly six weeks without internet. the year ended as it began with a slow trickle of birds into the nets, although one of these was a first for me and the site. A common kestrel was entwined with a southern grey shrike in the net, the shrike a bit worse for where, but i'm pleased to report has been seen in its usual hunting spots since. also of note was a black redstart from 2007, a young blackcap with a hungarian ring, and a young male black redstart that i first thought was of the semirufus subspecies but on reviewing the photographs i now believe it was of the eastern race phoenicuroides.
we finished the year with a total of 2565 birds plus a further 621 retraps of which two were foreign birds (turkey and hungary ) and a further 32 were returning wintering or breeding birds or local birds over 1 year since they were first ringed. all in all it wasn't a bad first years ringing for me, and heres to more birds in 2012.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

RBF for sure!!

After last weeks Taiga/Rb flycatcher we had a definite Red breasted flycatcher on wednesday morning. the bird had a much lighter bill with the pink underneath covering a much larger area and the rest being more yellowish. the upper tail coverts were clearly lighter than the tail. the tertials showed small white wedges that did not extend into the outer web. the measurements for the two birds were

P2 < wing tip 7.15mm
P2 = P6
P3 and P4 longest
P1 < P2 28.85mm
wing 71mm
tail 55mm
Bill to skull 12 .91mm
bill depth at back of nostrils 3.43mm

RB Flycatcher
P2 < wing tip 5.26mm
P2 = P6
P3 and P4 longest
P1 < P2 28.19mm
wing 68mm
tail 51mm
Bill to skull 12 .56mm
bill depth at back of nostrils 3.19mm

the photographs were taken by chris with his canon but unfortunately did not come out well and do not show the clear differences

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Taiga by the tail?

We had a little bit of excitement here on sunday, when after a good mornings catch, Chris, a ringer over here from the US of A doing a post doc, fetched what i first thought was a 1cy red breasted flycatcher out of the bag. i immediateley told him to hand it over as the senior ringer i was not going to let a ringing tick get away from me. So after ringing i began to examine the bird more thoroughly i first noticed the dark bill then checked the tail coverts which were black, excitement was starting to build now, so i rebagged the bird and took it to my house to take photos and make a few calls as i needed more expert help and was soon joined by Barak, Meidad and Yoav. After many photos and a comparison with a bird from the shetlands i was thinking that it was probably a rbf after all as our bird seemed a little warmer in its plumage than the shetland bird.We were joined by Oz in time to release the bird and play some calls in an attempt to entice some voice from it but it promptly disappeared into the gardens. Later that evening however i received an email from Yoav with some very interesting links (which can be viewed at Yoav blog ). After reading them and looking at the photos here i am a lot more optamistic now. But only time will tell and its in the hands of people with a lot more knowledge about this species than me.

Monday, 3 October 2011

When September ends

with september drawing to an end, the migrants started arriving here in much larger numbers and variety. We had a couple of firsts for the plot, i had ringed yellow wagtails around Beer Sheva, but never here, so was nicely surprised when 4 birds were brought to the ringing table. the other new bird was a ringing tick for me, quickly moving the apprentices out of the way when a scops owl was captured. this was my third tick of the month after ringed plovers and curlew sandpipers we had caught when venturing out to Nizzana. Other good birds for the month were 3 1cy ruppels warblers a couple of savis, a great reed, creztchmars bunting, a couple of wryneck, which are always fun to ring, and 11 black eared wheatears. We had only previously had a couple of these birds and always in the spring so to get so many here was really exciting.
the Orphean warblers seem like they have finally come to an end with a grand total of 90 birds of which only 2 were adults