Tuesday, April 26

A Hawks day

Yesterday afternoon, Juan, Aron and Simon noted a few thousands Levant Sparrowhawks flying low…a big promise for today's morning!
Before sunrise, while erecting the nets, we realized that it's going to be a big day. For the first 2 hours f the day approx. 2000  Levant Sparrowhawks passed in tree tops high over the IBRCE, Of which 12 were caught.
Here is a female

And a handsome male…

Here is a comparison of the underparts

A nice 2nd cy male Eurasian Sparrowhawk was trapped as well…

Passerines ringing was quit slow, but a very nice surprise was an adult Cuckoo!

This species is a regular migrant and breeder in Israel but is very seldom ringed…

After a good siesta we headed to Eilot's cemetery. No birds were seen in the well vegetated area, but just as we were about to enter the car, we noted some raptors, high up in the blue sky. Soon enough the first flock of levi's was located- estimated 3-4000! A few tens Steppe&Honey Buzzards passed, with some other common raptors. We decided to improve our location and moved to Eilat cemetery .  during an hour, we enjoyed terrific passage of 6-8000 Levants, more than a 1000 Honey Buzzards with 1 male Oriental Honey Buzzard among them, and a few hundred Steppe Buzzards. As usual we ended the day at the north beach, with few more hundreds of Honey Buzzards, 2 Sooty Shearwaters, 1  Arctic Skua and the rest of the usual guests...
Two interesting birds from the last two days were 2 Eleonora's Falcons seen around Eilat by the IBRCE's team.
While it seems that almost all of the migratory species are found in small numbers or completely absent so far this spring, the raptors are here to remind us what Eilat is all about! I guess that today we saw a descent portion of the world population of Levant Sparrowhawk- as far as we know, most of them pass through Eilat's Sky during the lat week of April every year…
For me this was one of the best raptors days ever, and we are all waiting for tomorrow…

Monday, April 25

back with you

Haven't been writing for the last two weeks, mostly because not much is going around birdingwise…

Yesterday, the Dutch guys got back home, after 10 weeks in Israel!

Thank you for the great help and good time! Hope to see you again I Eilat…

Aron and Simon from Sweden , both have been volunteering at the IBRCE  in previous springs  , came back for two weeks, welcome!
The see is showing some encouraging signs with up to 5 Sooty Shearwaters daily, 100-200 Common Terns around, Skuas in small numbers, 2 Whimbrels a few days ago(good birds for me Israeli birder…), and of course the long staying Western Reef Heron

Today I stayed at home, feeling a bit ill. Hopefully, tomorrow I will have some nice updates from the field!   

Tuesday, April 12

Night and day

Last night, we went out to Yotvata, in search of the rich nocturnal wildlife. Even before leaving the IBRCE, Bram and Teun got a lifer in the shape of a Levant Sparrowhawk flting overhead. A nice Hobby was hunting swifts at last light- a first for the season for me. We arrived to Yotvata at dusk- at first; the fields looked quite empty with only some Stone Curlews around. After extensive searching Itai located the famous Pharaoh Eagle Owl! The bird showed extremely well, most of the time hunting Stenodactylus Geckos on the ground! All the foreign volunteers enjoyed a highly wanted lifer…

Bram is Phonescoping(what the hell is Johannes doing?!)

Ringing this morning was better than the last few days, with a few good birds. A first for the season 2nd cy female Pied Flycatcher, and another 2nd cy male seen around.

A 2nd cy male Common Redstart.

The western birds(Phoenicurus phoenicurus) usually pass a few weeks later than the Eastern(Phoenicurus samamisicus).
I just can't get enough of those beautiful warblers…hope you don't mind another one ;-)

 The best catch of the day was actually a mammal-a Brown Hare (Lepus capensis)! The poor animal found itself inside one of our Helgoland traps just as I walked in during the first morning round…after a few photos she made her way out through a hall in the trap…

I spent 3 hours at the north beach this afternoon. Strong southern wind was blowing since the morning…the highlights were 4 Red necked Phalaropes flying among some Ducks, a Ruddy Shelduck, and a nice Arctic Skua.

Sunday, April 10

Yet another Control for Eilat

Last Tuesday, we got a report from the Israeli Bird Ringing Centre about a Chiffchaf which was ringed by the IBRCE team on the 4/3/2009 and was re-trapped on 24/09/2010 by a Polish ringer (R. Rudolf) in SE Poland.

This is the second IBRCE Chiffchaf control in Poland since the station is operating. the earlier one is from 1978 from some 100 km to the north of this recent control.

other than this there are not too many new birds around and since it was raining this afternoon and evening, i am very curious to know what will come up tomorrow...

Thursday, April 7

Rainy day, Dream away

on Teusday , another "rainy" day at Eilat brought us more good birds.

 At the ringing station an additional Wood warbler
and this 2nd cy male Masked Shrike. It seems that this species is present in very small numbers this spring…

A (the?) Black Bush Robin is seen around the park, and today Shachar found another bird at the southern date palm plantations. The first Rufus Bush Robins are around. For the finish trio it was a lifer!

I had a nice afternoon at the North beach, together with Shachar, Barak and the volunteers team. We had a rather close views of Sooty Shearwater, 2 Arctic Skuas, a few terns ducks and herons.
On the 3.4, we were birding around Shachamon park. The place wasn't very attractive, but as we reached the lower area of the park, we spotted a ringed Reed Warbler !

Closer looks made us think it is not an Israeli ring, and indeed, Teun managed to grab a photo of the ring which shows clearly that this is a Radolftzel, Germany ring!

Thanks Teun for the photos!
We couldn't read the whole number, and sent the photo to Yosef of the IBRC, who will try to get something about this ring's history…I will update you whenever we know something new.
A rainy weekend is rolling up north, who knows what may pop up down here?

Monday, April 4

they are back(and also me...)

The very slow last few days ended this morning with a late rainfall during the night and strong migration during the day.
First of all an amazing Steppe Buzzard passage started around 9am. During 3-4 hours, few tens of thousands(!!!) passed over the IBRCE. We didn’t really counted, but just to feature the extent of this stream I can say that while closing the nets(30 minutes) I lifted my head a few times and estimated 5000 birds passing… afternoon at the north beach, we noted that the stream is still flowing strong with many more thousands passing non-stop! Definitely my best Buzzard day ever. Also at the beach 9 Arctic Skuas and a Pallas's Gull were of interest.
We were watching some wagtails and pipits at the football field, but could barely get our eyes down to the meadow level

Juan, a Spanish volunteer came back for his second spring here- welcome!

Among the White&Yellow Wagtails and Red throated Pipits we noticed an odd looking wag- looking like a male Alba, but having a conspicuous face pattern- an unusual connection between the black breast and cap. I don’t know this feature from any other white wagtail I have seen before. Can anyone give an explanation for this weird bird?
Thanks Teun for the photos!

 Ringing today was quite variable with our first Wood Warbler for the spring.

A new hand species for the Dutch guys!

A nice 2cy female Ruppell's Warbler.

Reut enjoying Eilat's quality birds!

We finished the day watching at the K20 salt pools. A Broad Billed Sandpiper gave great views!

We also had 3 Greater Sandplover, 15 Collared Pratincoles, 5 Gull Billed Terns, a Pallas's Gull, and a Red necked Phalarope at the IBRCE's salt pond.
The Namaqua Doves are back in the area…

Late afternoon soft back lightning created a very delicate and beautiful scenery of the flamingos and the arava.

Avocets in last light   

A friendly Squacco Heron

To sum it up, a flock of about 300 White storks landed for the night near the pools.

The Iduna warbler was re-trapped a few days ago, and more photos and measurements were taken. I'm still un-sure about this bird and I hope that in a few days I will post a full report…