Monday, 16 May 2011

1000 up

Migration here in the desert is starting to slow down, another couple of weeks and i'll put the nets away for a month for their post season rest, before the birds start to return in July. We managed to get another couple of ringing sessions over the weekend and one more this morning, with two more species to add to the list, a Great reed warbler and a Tree pipit. the weekend also bought the 1000 bird to be ringed here this year, a fledgling house sparrow had the honours, sorry there are no pics as 1) i didnt realise and 2) they are not the best looking birds at that stage. we processed yet another corncrake the fourth we have ringed plus there have been at least two more to our knowledge in the village, in all my time here i had only seen 1, and this year they seem to be dropping out of the sky into peoples gardens on a regular basis. i was told by a now ex friend that he had seen a golden oriole in the school grounds, i couldn't believe he never told me, i keep dipping out on this bird since seeing one in India 10 years ago. every year someone comes up to me and says did you see the Oriole, it was amazing blah blah blah, i'll catch one soon i'm sure or i'll have no friends left around here.

Great reed warbler

female house sparrow

Olivaceous warbler

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Mad May

The first week of May has been phenomenal. There have been migrants everywhere. Since the 2nd of May i have ringed for 9 straight days and i'm looking forward to a long earned rest tomorrow. In this time we have ringed over 400 birds including 98 birds on Friday, we would have got the magical 100 but i managed to drop a blackcap and a babbler escaped the net. Luckily Eran had brought his new girlfriend Shira and we quickly put her too use scribing so we both could ring. The highlights included a Foreign ringed Garden warbler (more to follow when i have the info), a turtle dove first ringed here in April 2008, 3 terrific adult barred warblers, a river warbler, and a couple of olive tree warblers.

By this morning the rush had died down and i was back down to 27 birds, although i did manage a rather beautiful migrant, that bird that every time i see it it just fills me with wonderment at how a bird can be so magnificent, i caught the first bee eater of the spring, hopefully a couple more will follow as they are passing in great numbers at the moment.

Turtle dove

barred warbler

Barred warbler

Bee Eater


River warbler


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Dawn of the blackcap

Everyone is probably sick of hearing me drone on about the lack of migrants here in the desert, i know my wife and non birding friends are, so after openings the nets and returning to what i thought was going to be a relaxing half hour watching the sunrise, i was amazed to find my 30m net was rammed with birds. Its sited in the open between a eucalyptus tree and the pistachio plot where we ring, and usually catches a few birds early on as they move to the plot and then used as a demo net. 13 blackcaps had found their way into it, i realised then that this might be a good morning. i ringed the birds as quickly as possible. By the time I had finished 3 youngsters from the local junior school had arrived, we entered the plot to find the nets full, the kids kept running back to me saying theres 6 in the next net, 7 in the next. it took me nearly an hour to take the birds out, so i quickly closed the nets as i realised that i couldn't cope on my own with many more birds. there was a total of 62 new birds and 3 retraps, in just over an hour, with a staggering 51 new blackcaps! also the first garden warblers (4) and spotted flycatcher (1), the catch was made up of 2 olivaceous warblers, 1 collared flycatcher, 1 house sparrow, 1 ortolan bunting and the 100th lesser whitethroat of the season.

the catch was that good that when i woke at 6 this morning i decided to get out there again and
added 29 new birds and 6 retraps. Another 19 blackcaps, 6 olivaceous warblers, wryneck, wood warbler, thrush nightingale and the first barred warbler of spring.

Spotted flycatcher

Blackcap number 1000 for the site

Sunday, 1 May 2011


After the excitement of the ringing demo for the president and with what is seemingly everywhere  in Israel  a very poor migration,  when i got out of bed and saw grey skies above, i couldn't resist cycling out to the patch and opening a few nets, and i was glad i did with the best day of the spring numbers wise. Although the catch was made up almost entirely of blackcaps 24 out of 31 new birds. Many species are most notable by their absence here, with hardly any thrush nightingales, redstarts, bluethroats, martins, swallows, wheatears, willow warblers and olivaceous warblers. i've probably caught around the same numbers of blackcaps and lesser whitethroats, but overall catching numbers are down by about 50% of what i would have expected from previous years (although i didnt ring here last year very much, so i dont have a lot of data to make comparisons with). anyways what is so special about ring Y231115? well it belongs to the 1000th blackcap that i have ringed in Sde Boker in 3 spring and 2 autumn migrations, not bad for a little patch of green (or burnt brown this year) in the middle of a desert