Wednesday, July 27, 2011

better late then never

Yeah, I know it's been a week and a half since I got down from Israel's highest (and only?) mountain- the Hermon…I have very good excuses for not posting earlier, if any one has any wish of hearing them he may contact m privately :-P

Every second weekend July, we(Israel's ringers community) gather for a ringing session at the northern tip of our little country. Two afternoons and two mornings, in a compeltley different world-
The species caught make a rather unique list for us; mostly seedeaters, for some Mt. Hermon is the only breeding area in Israel.
The Syrian Serin might be the best example.

Rock Buntings make a good Hermon specialty.

These may be the most vulnerable birds in hand. Therefore we try to handle them as quickly and minimally as possible to avoid injuries.
In most years Pale Rock Sparrows are found breeding only on the Hermon. Some springs, mostly rainy ones generate massive influxes of up to thousand of pairs nesting in the desert areas of Israel. This species is not caught yearly during the Hermon ringing session. This time  we got 2 fledglings!

Not every day you get a Pale Rock Sparrows in hand!

Not a seedeater but nevertheless a distinctive Hermon specialty- Semirufus Black Redstart, female.

Some badass species are residential, and seen year round on the Hermon, typically they are not found anywhere else in Israel. Somber Tit is one of them, this one is a juv.

It may sound weird to you Europeans, but here Nuthatches are a real attraction! Only one species, only one location- Western Rock Nuthatch

This year a whole family of them was jumping on the rocks around our ringing site, giving great entertainment.

Only one was caught and well photographed!

Some other good Hermon breeders-
A Rock Sparrow, juv.   

Black Headed Bunting, male after post-nuptial moult. Most of these stunners are probably gone and on their way to India.

Linnet, among the commonest species on the mt.

Our ringing site- artificial ponds, at around 1700m above sea level.

Thousands of tiny Green Toads Bufo viridis were jumping about, on the pond's banks…

 "Chavooshit" peak above us-the highest areas inhabit tragacanth vegetation with alpine climate.

 That's how it looks when the birds arrive from the nets-

And that what happens when the sun get high and birds are scarce…

Cool birds and large numbers to be ringed are among the virtues of the Mt. Hermon ringing session. Though, if you would ask me, Hermon ringing is really about meeting friends from all over the country, have great time and laughs in one of Israel's most incredible locations  , and above all eating "Shamy" mulberries(an amazing breed f mulberries, tasting like nothing else and painting your limbs and face with blood red colour) on the way down ,where one of Israel's best trees is growing just on the road!
Yoav and Eli claiming their share of the fruit, monkey style…

Special thanks to the incredible Hula Valley ringing team for the great organizing and running of the ringing session!
See you all next year(if the army allows…)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

what a night ina'al dinak

Back to Eilat, after a long wild weekend up north… I think I have way too many photos…hummm…I think I will have to start from the beginning- Wednesday afternoon I joined Yosef, Yotam, Yohay, Avishay and Gilad at Atlit(Northern Mediterranean coastal plain) for a Terns ringing session. Israel's largest Common and Little Terns nesting Colony is situated inside the salt factory area.  As early as the first net round it was obvious we are having a good catch, with around 25 birds caught, but nothing could prepare us for the rest of the night…
We were ringing, and drinking Turkish coffee (a very important part of bird ringing!)…

The second round birds just arrived from the nets, and while I was taking photos of a White winged Black Tern

I heard Yosef shouting "taba'at me Lita!!!"("a ring from Lithuania!!!") . I quickly released the little beauty and raced back to the ringing table. I haven't seen Yosef smiling like that for a long time!  He has been monitoring these amazing migratory birds for two seasons now, and a foreign ring was definitely the best he could think of…or maybe not?!

The next bird to be registered in the notebook was(unbelievably!) carrying a German ring! Two, foreign ring n common terns, one night, middle of July- where are they coming from? And where are they going? Spring or autumn migrants? So far we didn't get any answers, but hopefully it will become clearer soon.
I had an amazing night , with cool birds and great company!

The next morning we headed up to the Mt. Hermon annual ringing session. That’s a big one that will probably spread across the two next posts. Here is a little taste for the mean while-

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chillin' in the desert

Hi there!
Yeah, I know, haven't been writing lately. Well, I must admit it's a combination of me being lazy(not birding a lot and sitting on the beach most of the day…) and the real lack of descent writing material.
And yes, it's hot down here, very hot. "How hot can it be?"  you probably ask yourself. Here are a few examples: it's so hot that when I get to the station at 6:00 it's already 5c degrees too hot for opening the nets, so hot the Bulbuls get into our Helgoland traps just to get some shade, so hot you can just throw a teabag to a cup f tap water and drink, you burn your hand by fastening the seat belt in Tzadok's car if it has been out in the sun for then minutes, and also by shutting the gates of the park, and by picking up your bins to take a look at a casual Caspian Tern or a Namaqua Dove flying around…believe me it gets hot here at the northern tip of the world desert strech…and I just LOVE it!  Not doing a lot of good birding and hearing the monotonous Prinia's and chating Bulbuls for almost two months now made me feel like I'm having a vacation from birding, and at the same time I find myself thinking more and more about Willow Warblers, and Yellow browed Warblers, and Bluethrats…soon enough they will all come!
I do some ringing few times a week, mostly Bulbuls and Palm Doves but nce in a while there are some surprises. For instance, this Blackstart was caught on Sunday. These birds are very rare in the IBRCE. This adult in post breeding complete moult is probably looking for something to do as well…

The new local young volunteers crew…
Last week we successfully released a juv.Common Kestrel we took care of and rehabilitated for two weeks. Tzadok  and I were both happy and sad to see our friend taking off.

Today we are going up north, as north as it gets in our little country- Mt. Hermon here we come! When we will be back to our desert courts I promise to post a descent report and hopefully many Hermon birds photos.
OK, I have to go get some Bulbuls out of trap 1…bye.