Saturday, November 26, 2011

The beginning of the end

The beginning of the end

It feels autumn is fading into winter these days, the soft drizzle we had yesterday and bird numbers seem to confirm that, there were no real drops, but enough to spread an almost forgotten scent of rain in the desert.

Birds are decreasing with only 36 (8 of them re-taps) yesterday, yet even when numbers are low Specialties are always available in November, a Cyprus Warbler ringed on Wednesday was very enjoyable, not only because I haven’t ringed one during the last 3 years but also because it’s a great reason to use Hadoram 'Sylvia' warblers for real (see note), such a wonderful book!

Note: it's a most obvious First winter, but I kept reading for two more hours anyway. (Testing ourselves on the 'problematic plumages' page Included).

Cyprus Warbler post juv. moult may include up to four primareis as in this individual.

Many old birds are now retuning to winter in the park, maybe the most interesting of them was a Water Pipit ringed back in November 2007. Only few of them are ringed every year so this catch is quite special (I caught the first two for the season this week). I also had few BluethoartsSardinian Warblers, and Chiffchaffs ringed back in 2008 and 2009, when extensive autumn & winter ringing was held. Some rings are so dirty the need to be cleaned from salt (we're in the middle of salt marsh…) and mud to make it possible reading them.

In the park I've seen this week three Linnets a dozen Song Thrushes and a Blackbird, and managed to ring one of the song thrushes and the blackbird. Those "north" birds are uncommon (but regular) here in winter, even though they are common up north.

I must confess we (Elon and myself) also made an attempt to ring the Olive-backed Pipits(there are four of them now) on Thursday at Eliot palms, and although we came close to catching them (one even walked underneath the net!) we failed, But they are here for the entire winter and so am I…

The end of autumn marks the beginning of time to wander to other places for ringing as the birds wintering in the park are not endless and already many are ringed. It's also time to begin serious preparations for upcoming spring!

Happy winter!

Monday, November 21, 2011

More pink!

More pink!

Today we decided to break the routine of ringing at the station and went out to set up some nets around an old dead tree by the canal. The reason we choose this location is the melon fields nearby, many seed eaters are feeding there now, 150+ Desert Finches (which were our main target), few hundred Spanish Sparrows, some GreenfinchesIndian Silverbills and more.
Yishay and Shaby who came yesterday to twich the Rf Bluetail came along and joined me this morning, and helped a lot with setting up the higher then usual nets we had to use for catching Desert Finches. Thank you guys!

Everything went as planned and we had a good catch of Desert Finchs, and also some other treats like this Siberian Stonechat.
Update: sorry for the embarrassing mistake here, it is a perfecet male saxicola maurus variegatus
Totals for today: 57 birds with no retraps.
Desert Finch – 33
Spanish Sparrow – 8
House Sparrow – 3
White Wagtail – 2
Chiffchaff – 5
Sardinian Warbler – 2
And singles: BluethroatBlack RedstartEastern Stonechat and a Collared Dove.
Ageing Desert Finches is not easy, and literature is not very much available about them.
Many individuals we believe to juveniles performed arrested moult, with a large degree of variation, some moulting just one or two of the remiges, and others leaving just one or two unmoulted remiges. very limited moult (female):
More extensive moult (two different males):

the color of the bill is also variable with juv. male just starting to get black(compare to the adult male above):
and just to show off: the first Dead sea Sparrow for this winter, ringed yesterday at the station.
After we packed up we had some spare time so we went to Eilot palm plantations to have a look at the Olive-backed Pipits there, we had great Views on two of them (Barak Granit reported 3, last week). They usually arrive in November and would probably/hopefully stay there until February, it’s very interesting if these are the same birds wintering here every year or not (or maybe there are more then 3?), but I guess I can try answering this question,
stay tuned…  


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Back To Business

Back To Business

I just finished the long course, I didn’t ring at all for over a month!, so with itchy fingers and great anticipation i finally got back to the ringing station this week, doing what I like to do best! Ring!

So as November is here in full swing many ‘late’ migrants are around, Bluethroats,Chiffchaffs, Stonechats, Sardinian Warblers, Spanish Sparrows and the last of theBlackcaps and Reed Warblers.
Last days were pretty good with around 60 birds a day, today we were slowing down a bit, probably because of the storm raging in the north (no rain here, don’t worry).
Since I got back to the station 4 days ago at least 2 Fieldfares were hanging around just between the nets and the Heligoland traps, and the mist nets even ignoring the MP3 player, but yesterday I caught up with one (Tick!). what a fantastic northen bird!

Earlier that morning I had the second beautiful Rose-colored Starling for this autumn, a juvenile just finishing a complete moult, looks much better then the first one I caught in September.

 Svensson states some might retain some juv. feathers even after complete moult, and to me it seems  this one will do just that, leaving behind some odd coverts and alula. but still to early to determine, i will have to catch another one...

As for other cool birds around many Penduline Tits are around, yesterday I caught one, a recapture from last year, and today I made my best to catch more, but caught only two.
On the 'less common and pretty cool' list this time, a Moustached Warbler.
No doubt the coolest Acro in Israel!
Yesterday at K 19 many common ducks and hundreds of Cormorants were in the water. In the skies above Booted Eagles and Marsh Harriers are keeping the doves and pigeons on the run. Noteworthy was a single male Ruddy Shelduck. thinking about that, i never ringed a cormornt...

Down town Eilat the White wagtails Roost near the central bus station looks very tempting with Hundreds of them pre-roosting of the roofs around. Maybe worth try out some urban ringing there next week.