Thursday, March 27, 2014

New sp. for IBRCE * short update due to festival

The Eilat birding festival is taking most of our time in the past few days: guided tours, lectures, birding from time to time, still building a new hide... Ringing hasn't been very successful. The weather is "too good"- birds just fly over, keep on migrating. 
We did have some nice birds during last few days, lots of lovely encounters with birders from all over Europe and some nice days with good overhead migration, good variation.

First Siberian (Caspian) Stonechat Saxicola maurus variegatus/hemprichi דוחל סיבירי-כספי.

Siberian (Caspian) Stonechat Saxicola maurus variegatus/hemprichi
דוחל סיבירי-כספי

Siberian (Caspian) Stonechat Saxicola maurus variegatus/hemprichi
דוחל סיבירי-כספי

Always fun to have one of these in hand:

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus נץ מצוי

Every evening, tens to hundreds of gulls fly from the sea and gather on the banks of the salt ponds by the IBRCE Park. Sometimes also some Terns join in. The majority now is Slender Billed Gulls Larus genei שחף צר מקור but also Black Headed Gulls Larus ridibundus שחף אגמים. "Big Gulls" are mainly Armenian Gulls Larus armenicus שחף ארמני with some tens to 150 Lesser Black Backed Gulls Lurus fuscus etc. שחף שחור.

On the 25th, Matt noticed one gull with a colour ring (PVC). After a long quiet crawl he got close enough and was able to read the black ring- J9VZ. It was ringed in northern Norway, as a pullus (chick), in 2011 and was seen by a German birder last year. Nice! gulls with PVC rings are not very common around Eilat.

Matt sneaking towards the Gulls
מאט מתגנב לעבר השחפים
The roosting Gulls by the IBRCE salt ponds
השחפים הלנים בבריכות המלח בפארק הציפורים
New species for the IBRCE! Not a nice one but a very beautiful one... A Brahminy Starling Sturnia pagodarum זרזיר ברהמיני. It is an invasive species in Israel and this one probably escaped from cage somewhere in Aqaba or Eilat and not flew all the way from Tel Aviv. It was around singing for two days and moved away.
Brahminy Starling Sturnia pagodarum זרזיר ברהמיני
Brahminy Starling Sturnia pagodarum זרזיר ברהמיני
 In the ringing we had another Scops Owl Otus scopus שעיר מצוי, with loads of ticks around its eyes. It's a reminder for the difficulties birds have to cope with along the tough migration. 

 Scops Owl Otus scopus with many ticks
שעיר מצוי מרובה קרציות

Yael Lehnardt
Head Ringer & Guide, IBRCE

Not only feathers

At the IBRCE Park, you'll be surprised, there are not only birds flying around!
We try not to interrupt them frequently but there is a place where these Kuhl's pipistrelles Pipistrellus kuhlii עטלפון לבן שוליים are roosting communally. In some years, up to 25 are seen. This time the numbers were lower than usual but it is still remarkable to see such creatures up close.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

You have one week left to join us!

How many times have you heard of the terrifying massacre of migrating birds and felt you must do something about it?
How many times you have seen awful pictures of hunted rare birds, threatened species, and thought it is too difficult to stop these horrible activities?

People of Europe – your summer visiting birds are being killed throughout southern Europe and the Middle East and this is your opportunity to assist in the fight against the poachers. IBRCE ringers team will do the best to find as many birds as possible to assit the project of the IOC and BirdLife International called "Champions of the Flyway".

For more information about the bird race:
For helping the project and supporting our team:

We know how many people visit this blog! If everyone donated even a very small amount then it could make a huge difference.

Every little helps!
In the name of the birds, in the name of our team.

Yael Lehnardt

Head Ringer & Guide, IBRCE

Roni Vaisanen getting prepared for the bird-race
with the special "Champions of the Flyway" T-shirt

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Live and death is in the power of IBRCE team (not exactly..)

Finally, the news you’ve all been waiting for … they survived!! Two clean, happy and rested Slender-billed Gulls Larus geneiשחף צר מקור  were released into the saltpans during the morning where they both flew straight out to join the other birds present. Their saviour, Misgav, was not only celebrating his birthday but also the release of these wonderful Gulls with us.  
Slender-billed Gulls Larus geneiשחף צר מקור
were saved thanks to the awarness of the Salt company worker
A clear arrival of migrants overnight resulted in some better ringing. 117 birds were caught which brought the season total of new birds ringed to just over 2000 (just to begin with!). 
adult male Cretzschmar’s Bunting Emberiza caesia  גבתון אדום מקור זכר בוגר
adult male Cretzschmar’s Bunting Emberiza caesia  גבתון אדום מקור זכר בוגר
adult male Cretzschmar’s Bunting Emberiza caesia  גבתון אדום מקור זכר בוגר
adult male Cretzschmar’s Bunting Emberiza caesia  גבתון אדום מקור זכר בוגר
An adult male Cretzschmar’s Bunting Emberiza caesia  גבתון אדום מקור competed with a Hoopoe Upupa epops דוכיפת for title of most colourful bird and another Common Quail שלו Coturnix coturnix was captured. A Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus עלוית אפורה was the first of the season and 20 Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus orientalisעלוית לבנת בטן is an excellent day total for this species.
31 Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus מגלן חום flew over during the morning and a couple of Greater Short-toed Larks Calandrella brachydactyla עפרונן קצר אצבעות also migrated north. The first Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus שחיינית צרת מקור of the year was on the salt ponds and a Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus  אנפית גמדית was seen in flight over the IBRCE pool. 

72 birds were caught today with highlights including the first Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis פיפיון עצים to be ringed this season and a female Ruppell’s Warbler Sylvia rueppelli סבכי שחור גרון , a species not caught for a few days. 
first Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis פיפיון עצים
Immature (5)Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis פיפיון עצים צעיר (קוד 5)
Immature (5)Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis פיפיון עצים צעיר (קוד 5)
The biggest surprise was a Long-eared Owl Asio otus ינשוף עצים in one of the Heligoland traps at about 10am, a nice opportunity so see this beautiful species in daylight. 

Long-eared Owl Asio otus ינשוף עצים
By Roni Vaisanen צולם ע"י רוני וייסנן

Adult seconderies pattern Long-eared Owl Asio otus ינשוף עצים

By Roni Vaisanen צולם ע"י רוני וייסנן
After sunset the wader traps were set and we recaptured a Common Redshank Tringa totanus ביצנית לבנת כנף originally ringed in autumn 2003, as an adult. It means this bird is at least 12 years old!
During the evening the IBRCE salt ponds were quite productive. Yesterdays Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatusשחיינית צרת מקור  had found some friends and formed a small flock of 3 birds. 8 Pallas’s Gulls Larus ichthyaetus שחף עיטי dropped in and included 2 adults with full breeding plumage but all were disturbed and flew north just before dusk. 75 Ruff לוחם  was a clear increase on previous days and 5 Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilisביצנית עדינה  , 1 Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus ביצנית אדומת רגל and a Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea נחליאלי זנבתן were also present.

The daily ringing total rose again today to 103 birds although a high proportion of these were re-traps. The highlight was a female Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus אנפית גמדית which was perfectly timed to be enjoyed, not just by us but also by some birders joining an IBRCE tour.
female Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus אנפית גמדית
female Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus אנפית גמדית
2 Arabian Babblers Turdoides squamiceps זנבן were also ringed and an interesting Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis דרור ספרדי  showed a mix of sexual plumage characters, more male on the left and female on the right!
Overhead, there was a small passage of raptors. Most were Steppe Buzzard Buteo b. vulpinus עקב חורף מזרחי  but also a few of the commoner eagle species. Among the passerine migrants an estimated 4000 Spanish Sparrows Passer hispaniolensis דרור ספרד passed through the site.

Matt Slaymaker
Volunteer-ringer, IBRCE

Yael Lehnardt
Head Ringer & Guide, IBRCE

Not only Feathers- Amazing kill

The gull story ended well but not all birds make it out of Eilat again. Some you can save, some you lose! In this specific case, we haven't lost any of the Gulls but we witnessed an amazing kill- A Painted Carpet Viper (Saw Scaled Viper) Echis coloratus אפעה מגוון eating a Blackap Sylvia atricapilla סבכי שחור כיפה just next to one of our traps. All team gathered and watched the snake eating the bird, working so hard to swallow it.
These Vipers are serious bird lovers, eating birds lovers I mean. Usually they are seen hidden in the lower part of Miswak Salvadora persica סלוודורה פרסית, waiting for a Warbler to come and feed on the Blue-Spotted Arab Colotis phisadia לבנין הסלוודורה caterpillars or the fruits of the bush.


A little more of the local atmosphere

20 very excited Finnish birders, one very excited Finnish ringer, one Arabian Bubbler Turdoides squamiceps זנבן ערבי. A nice spring tour at the IBRCE. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Black Bush Robin(?)

Was not seen yet at the IBRCE.
There is one in Hai-Bar Yotvata, one at Lotan as well, but none here.
Despite the recent publications about such observation by our team, we are still looking for one here...


adult Steppe Buzzard Buteo vulpinus עקב מזרחי
By Bas Kok צולם ע"י באס קוק

After a few good days at IBRCE it all went a bit quiet. Not only were there few new arrivals on the ground but many lingering birds had also moved on. Only 64 birds were caught during the morning, many of which were re-traps from previous days. 
Bas releasing Steppe Buzzard Buteo vulpinus באס משחרר עקב מזרחי
Things livened up a little when Ron and Roni went out for a short field trip during the afternoon and came back with an adult Steppe Buzzard Buteo vulpinus עקב מזרחי, the first to be ringed here this season.
Overhead the skies were empty, no raptors and few swallows. A Tawny Pipit Anthus capestris פפיון צהוב flew north in the morning along with a handful of Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus פפיון אדום-גרון.

An evening outing to K19 was very successful with a Baillon’s Crake Porzana pussila ברודית גמדית in the reeds and 8 Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse Pterocles lichtensteinii קטה הודית coming in to drink. A lot of birders visit Eilat in the spring and we encourage anybody visiting this well-known sandgrouse site to respect these birds, not get too close and keep noise to a minimum to avoid disturbance. A better birding experience for everyone!
[Matt is a bit disappointed today, we ran out of chocolate, that's all guys!]

The southerly winds continued and migration remained slow. Only 45 birds found the nets and of these over 50% were re-traps.
In the afternoon we continued to paint the wood for the new hide before taking a break from the site by doing some birding in the Yotvata area. 
Black Bush Robin Cercotrichas podobe חמריה שחורה
By Roni Vaisanen צולם ע"י רוני וייסנן

Not at the IBRCE לא בפארק הציפורים
On the way we stopped off at Hai-Bar Yotvata to see the Black Bush Robin Cercotrichas podobe חמריה שחורה found yesterday. I can confirm that, despite news to the contrary, there has not (yet) been a Black Bush Robin here at IBRCE this spring. We will do our best to find one for the upcoming Eilat bird festival... Starting sunday..

Grey Wagtail  Motacilla cinerea נחליאלי זנבתן
By Roni Vaisanen צולם ע"י רוני וייסנן
There was the usual selection of species in the Yotvata fields, larks, pipits and wagtails. In the nearby sewage ponds both Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola נחליאלי לימוני and a Grey Wagtail  Motacilla cinerea נחליאלי זנבתן were present and back at the fields we had good views of Pharaoh Eagle Owl Bubo ascalaphus אוח מדברי shortly after dusk.

Ringing was much the same again today with around 47 birds caught, mostly of the usual species such as Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca סבכי טוחנים , Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla סבכי שחור-כיפה  and Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis דרור ספרדי.

Swallows in the dust
סנוניות באבק
In the evening a successful swallow roost netted around 75 birds, mostly Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica סנונית רפתות. The catch-of-the-day however, went to the Long-eared Owl Asio otus ינשוף עצים caught in one of the helgoland traps after dark.
Overhead migration included around 150 Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus שחף שחור  in the morning and a few raptors but still much less than is expected at this time of year. A Pallas’s Gull Larus ichthyaetus שחף עיטי was on the salt ponds in the evening.   

Common Quail Coturnix coturnix שליו 
Today was a much better morning and a generally more eventful day. Although it was never busy, there had clearly been an arrival of migrants overnight and the first couple of net rounds were quite productive. There was an increase in the number of Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus orientalis עלווית לבנת-בטן caught and Wryneck Jynx torwuilla סבראש and Common Quail Coturnix coturnix שליו  were also among the 92 birds in the nets. The latter species has been frustrating us for weeks as they are seen daily and regularly seem to narrowly avoid capture. Today’s bird was the first ringed this season. Another 40 swallows were caught during the evening. 

The sad news from the morning concerns the untimely death of the stations trusty car. With repair already ruled out as an option (too expensive) this has clear implications for our title challenge in the upcoming bird race.

Overhead an adult Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus שחף שחור-ראש flew north in the morning and a stream of swallows, mostly Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica סנונית מערות, passing through for most of the day numbered several thousand. A small surge of migrants in the evening included 2 adult male Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus זרון שדות, 1 Osprey Pandion haliaetus שלך, 5 Black Kite Milvus migrans דיה שחורה and 7 Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica שחפית עבת-מקור all flying north. 2 European Bee-eater Mrops apiaster שרקרק מצוי were quite early and quite unexpected.

Also today, 2 Slender-billed Gull Larus genei שחף צר-מקור joined us for the night. They had managed to get themselves stuck in a net at the salt ponds at K20 until they were rescued by Yael (she is still carring some ugly scraches on her face due to the unpleasent struggle to get them out) and brought back to the station. Here, the salt was cleaned from their plumage and they were allowed to rest and recover. You will have to check back to the blog in a couple of days to find out how they got on...

Slender-billed Gull Larus genei שחף צר-מקור

Slender-billed Gull Larus genei שחף צר-מקור
Matt Slaymaker
Volunteer-ringer, IBRCE

Yael Lehnardt
Head Ringer & Guide, IBRCE

A little more of the local atmosphere

When birding around, we get to see nice species which we don't know how to tell all about in the blog of the IBRCE. So we'll let you enjoy the next pictures:
The regular one,
Northern Beach, Eilat
By Roni Vaisanen צולם ע"י רוני וייסנן
First for season
Ofira Park, Eilat
By Roni Vaisanen צולם ע"י רוני וייסנן


Monday, March 17, 2014

The silence before the storm turned into... Bird Flood!

Another good day here at IBRCE. 170 birds passed through our hands during the busiest morning of the year so far. Although much the same species as usual we did catch an Eastern Orphean Warbler Sylvia crassirostris  סבכי חורש for the first time in several days. Two Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus חנקן נובי caught were the first records this spring and a Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator חנקן אדום ראש was the first to find its way into the nets.

Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus חנקן נובי 

Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus חנקן נובי 

In the evening we added another 60 birds to the daily total by targeting the Swallows coming in to roost. 4 Sand Martins Riparia riparia כוכית גדות were ringed with the rest divided fairly equally between Red-rumped Cepropsis daurica  סנונית מערותand Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica סנונית רפתות.

A female Little Crake Porzana parva ברודית קטנה was seen well from one of the hides overlooking the IBRCE pond. A Rufous Bush Robin Cergotrichas galactotes חמריה חלודת זנב near the information centre & shop was an unusually early record and a Wryneck Jynx torquilla  סבראש was also present. To join our growing team, Bas from the Netherlands joined us today. He will be staying and volunteering at the centre for the next month.

219 birds were caught today. We would have liked to keep the nets open for longer but by late morning, a sudden heavy rain shower forced us to close. The first net round produced another Eurasian Scop’s Owl Otus scops שעיר מצוי in almost exactly the same place as the last one.

A 2nd calendar year male Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus חכלילית עצים was the first of the season and 2 more Ruppell’s Warbler Sylvia rueppellii  סבכי שחור גרון were ringed.

2nd calendar year male Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus פרט בשנה שנייה (קוד 5)- חכלילית עצים

2 Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus חיוואי were among the small stream of visible raptor migration. A few small flocks of White Stork Ciconia ciconia חסידה לבנה drifted over along with 6 Black Stork Ciconia nigra  חסידה שחורה and 33 Common Crane Grus grusעגור אפור . The lingering Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga עיט צפרדעים was seen in the afternoon.

The lingering Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga 
עיט צפרדעים- בילה איתנו את החורף ועדיין בסביבה
by Roni Vaisanen צולם ע"י רוני וייסנן

The day started well with a 2nd year female Cretzschmar’s Bunting Emberiza caesia גבתון אדום גרון in the West nets. 

2nd year female Cretzschmar’s Bunting Emberiza caesia נקבה צעירה (קוד 5) גבתון אדום גרון

In total 153 birds were caught with other highlights including 2 Common Nightingales Luscinia megarhynchos זמיר ירדן and 2 Wryneck Jynx torquilla סבראש, representing the first of each to be ringed here this season.

Wryneck Jynx torquilla סבראש
צולם ע"י באס קוק by Bas Kok
Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos זמיר ירדן
A slight change in species composition saw us ring more Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla   סבכי שחור כיפהthan Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca   סבכי טוחנים, it is the first "Blackaps wave of migration" for season and surely not the last.

There was some good overhead migration during the morning, easily the best day for raptors so far.
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus חיוויאי 5
Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis
עיט ערבות  39
Black Kite Milvus migrans
דיה שחורה   9
Booted Eagle
Aquila pennataעיט גמדי   7
Steppe Buzzard Buteo b. vulpinus
עקב מזרחי  900+
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus
רחם  3

Booted Eagle Aquila pennata עיט גמדי 
by Roni Vaisanen צולם ע"י רוני וייסנן
It seems not everyone were happy with the strong Raptors migration, especially not the so called "local" House Crows Corvous splendens עורב הודי. This invasive species is known for being very aggressive, attacking birds, reptiles, mammals and even walking-on-two mammals: humans.

Booted Eagle Aquila pennataעיט גמדי
-and company
עורב הודי House Crow Corvous splendens

by Roni Vaisanen צולם ע"י רוני וייסנן
Over 4200 White Stork Ciconia ciconia חסידה לבנה also passed through to the North during mid-morning. Swallows were a constant presence in the skies above and several Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus פיפיון אדום גרון and Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava  נחליאלי צהוב passed over. A few Alpine Swift Apus melba סיס הרים  were mixed in with the commoner species and a single Little Swift Apus affinis  סיס גליל was present early morning.
After ringing our work was not over… Helgoland trap fixing, cleaning, data entry and rubbish collecting was all done before we headed to town for well deserved ice cream.

Sand Martins Riparia riparia כוכית גדות
3 seem to be eilata race (central in pic)
שלוש המרכזיות ככל הנראה משתייכות לתת המין אילתה

צולם ע"י באס קוק by Bas Kok
Another successful swallow ringing session in the evening netted about 140 more birds for the day total. 5 Sand Martins Riparia riparia כוכית גדות caught included 3 birds showing characters of the very small, very cute, poorly known race eliata

Matt Slaymaker
Volunteer-ringer, IBRCE

Yael Lehnardt
Head Ringer & Guide, IBRCE

A little more of the local atmosphere

Extreme Makeover-

In the last period we are busy with the Park's Extreme Makeover. In the next few weeks a new hide is about to be built, allowing more comfortable birding, a new fence will keep people a little further away, preventing them from flashing the exhausted migrants and more is planned.
Stay tuned or simply come to check it yourselves!

Not only preapering for the bird race:
IBRCE's Volunteers are working hard, building a new hide for your comfort
מתנדבי פארק הציפורים עובדים קשה למען הקמת מסתור תצפית חדש לרווחתכם

Fencing the salt pond to prevent people from flashing birds repetitively
The fence is low to allow easy birding
מגדרים את שולי ברכת המלח למנוע הברחה חוזרת ונשנית של הציפורים
הגדר נמוכה כדי לאפשר צפייה נוחה בציפורים