Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Isabelline Warbler !?!?

Hi there,
The last few days were quite slow with not many birds at the ringing station and nothing out of the ordinary around.
This morning, yet another slow ringing session with about 40 birds. At around 7:00 I was sitting at the ringing station and was surprised to take a strange looking Iduna warbler out of the bag. First impression was a bird with a very big and wide based bill. I showed the bird to Francis Argyle who was sitting next to me and he had the same immediate impression. More looks at the bird and some measurements made us think we might be holding an Isabelline Warbler Iduna opaca.

As I mentioned, the first impression was created mostly by the unusual bill. Both Francis and I are experienced with the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida, and actually we ringed two birds of this species just before we handled this bird. The width of the bill at the lower mandible feather line was 4.5 mm, according to Svenson's book, this measurement is well beyond the overlap zone between the two species, of course in the opaca zone. The shape of the bill was also better for opaca with the sides giving a slight convex look.

The face pattern, with a pale lore and short Eyebrow is also good for opaca.

Unfortunately, during the 1.5 hours we kept the bird, no other Iduna was caught so we haven’t a head to head colors comparison, but I had a feeling that this bird is slightly browner grey then the "normal" birds I know from Israel. The wing looks rather uniform with no prominent pale wing panel.

 The other measurements obtained:
Wing length- 65mm
Tail length- 51mm
Body mass- 9.0 gr.
Bill to skull- 16.9mm(in the overlap zone).
Bill width- 4.5mm
Bill depth- 2.8mm
WP- p4

We released the bird after Bram, Teun, Johannes (our volunteers) and 4 of Johannes's friends looked at the bird. All together we were unsure about the bird's identity. None of us have any experience with Isabelline Warbler and I would appreciate any comment and thoughts about this bird.    If we are not big stringers, this might be Israel's 1st record!

 on Sunday, Roni made his way back to his icy homeland. Roni was a great help for us during the last month and we are all looking for the next spring ;-)
Roni with his "dream bird"

Thursday, March 24, 2011

the warblers of Menetries

Édouard Ménétries was a French Entomologist. He was born in  October 2, 1802  and died on  April 10, 1861. (thank you Wikipedia!).

This 2 cy male visited us yesterday. A decent amount of birders gathered for the twitch and enjoyed it.

Sub specific ID of this individual is still unclear to me. It Definitely  lacks the reddish pink throat and breast that the Nominate race shows but for me it is still a bit to pinkish and the dark hood is not as extensive as I expect in mystacea.  The bird shows a clear moult limit in the tertials- the middle one was replaced by an adult type which is very different then the worn brownish juv. feathers.

Surprisingly this morning a female was also netted!

This type is rather similar to juv. Subalpine Warbler females, but is separated easily by the black tail.

Catching 3 Menetries's warblers in one week is definitely a rare and interesting case.
 Ringing in the last few days is going strong with 258 birds yesterday and a bit less today. Among the many Lesser Whitethroats some Ruppell's Warblers are caught. This male's forehead is colored yellow by probably Ochradanus bacatus Pollen.

Some good birds were seen recently in the area- an Oriental Turtle dove at k19 cowshed, Semi Collared Flycatcher north of the IBRCE, a male White throated Robin near the southern date palms groves, and today Itai had a Purple Gallinule at Aqaba's Birdwatching park!
  The north beach is still slow, even though, today a first flock of 13 Common Terns flew in and 2 Pomarine Skuas were seen . I actually took this photo yesterday, when there were more birdwatchers on the shore than bird out at sea…

Raptors are also passing in good numbers and as we approach April some more species are expected soon, so stay posted!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The dark prince!

The day started with a good amount of birds in our traps. The two Festival groups which visited the park enjoyed a nice variety of migrants and were well satisfied.
Shortly after the they left Ute, our long returning German volunteer came from a net round and handed me a bag with an "not common" bird in it. As I looked in I was amazed to see a long black tail with white tips! after teasing the team a short while I took out this stunning Black Bush Robin!

Obviously the excitement was huge.  After ringing the bird , we sent an RBA and prepared for the twitch.

A few tens came quickly to witness the dark prince.

This is most probably a 2nd calendar year male. Note the striking moult limit in the secondaries .

This species used to be an extremely rare vagrant in Israel. During the last decade there have been some changes in it's appearance patterns, maybe due to range expending. We don't know yet whether our birds originate in Arabia or in Eastern Africa, hopefully more ringing might bring us some answers. 
 The BBR was finally released after an hour from trapping time  and hopefully will stick around for a while.

Other then the  BBR, some other quality birds showed up. A nice Scops Owl was a nice treat for the groups.

What a sweet owl!

The guys finally put their hands on the elusive Squacco Heron

And in one of their favorite poses:

All in all, this was an excellent day at the IBRCE with over 200 birds ringed, and many smiley faces around J
What will bring us tomorrow?