Friday, January 31, 2014

The GRAND Opening!

One may ask, what are we opening?! Several things will follow:
It might be too egocentric to introduce at first the opening of the new blog-site of International Birding & Research Center Eilat; so- spring will go first.

Winter sunset at IBRCE
שקיעה חורפית בפארק הבינלאומי לציפורים אילת

Spring had arrived to Eilat. Slowly, not yet with vast quantities of migrants, not yet with amazing variety of species but slowly and surely- migrants are here.
It started already in early January with Steppe Eagles Aquila nipalensis עיט ערבות heading north-east.

First tremendous flocks (hundreds) of Pallid Swifts Apus pallidus סיס חוורוור,
Rock Martins Ptyonoprogne fuligula סנונית מדבר
House Martins Delichon urbicum טסית בתים
and few Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica סנונית רפתות flying all together were observed on January 4th at Elifaz (approximately 50km north to Eilat).

Winter is always good time to focus Waders and other Water birds. Now we enjoy few Whiskered Terns Chlidonias hybrida   מרומית לבנת לחיover water sources around southern Arava Valley. Magnificent flocks of 4 Swallows species mentioned above are passing daily (in lower numbers, but continuously).

Waders and juvenile Flamingo at IBRCE salt pond
חופמאים ופלמינגו צעיר בבריכת המלח של פארק הציפורים

Other birds around water sources- Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo at K19עוד ציפורי מים באזור אילת- קורמורן גדול בק"מ ה-19 

Other birds around water sources- Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus at K19עוד ציפורי מים באזור אילת- פלמינגו בק"מ ה-19

Western Reef Egret Egretta gularis at Northern Beach, Eilat.
לבנית ים סוף בחוץ הצפוני של אילת

During winter our bird-ringing project slows down a little. Instead, we are focusing on many educational projects, maintaining the Park's vegetation+ foundations, joining the yearly Israeli water-birds count, making other different surveys etc. Not too much spare time is left for ringing our wintering birds, what we obviously do despite the lack of time.

On 11th of January we ringed the first spring migrant- 2nd year (5 in Euring code) Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis סבכי קוצים. January 28th remarked a new step towards "real" spring ringings- two Reed Warblers Acrocephalus scirpaceus קנית קטנה, after winter moult in Africa, were ringed. All three warblers with low, yet valid, score of fat.  

Not only the migrants are celebrating the longer and warmer days. Many locals had started singing- Spectacled Bulbuls Pycnonotus xanthopygos בולבולים are leading, Sardinian Warblers Sylvia melanocephala momus סבכים שחורי ראש  are giving fight, tinny Prinia Warblers Prinia gracilis פשושים invest all their energy so they'll be heard from a distance. (I'll avoid the description of our volunteers in short sleeved T-shirts, singing in the thicket while fixing Heligoland traps). 

We can't welcome the spring without sharing with you some of our favorite wintering species- Pallid Scops Owl Otus brucei שעיר משורטט. This winter at the Arava Valley very few PSO were observed (about 5 in total). One of them was ringed at the IBRCE Park, found asleep early in the morning.
Pallid Scops Owl Otus brucei שעיר משורטט

Pallid Scops Owl Otus brucei שעיר משורטט

Pallid Scops Owl Otus brucei שעיר משורטט

Pallid Scops Owl Otus brucei שעיר משורטט
Desert Warblers Sylvia nana סבכי מדבר are seen regularly along Arava Valley during winter. Many of them are seen in pairs, hopping on the ground or among the low dry vegetation. This year was even better than usual and many Warblers were seen.
Desert Warblers Sylvia nana at Evrona
סבכי מדבר בעברונה

Preperations for spring 2014 included ringing course with the best of our volunteers:
ההכנות לאביב 2014 כללו גם קורס טיבוע עם מיטב מתנדבינו:

Spring is here, spring is awaited...
As we say her- "Yalla!"
Yael Lehnardt
Head ringer and Guide, IBRCE