Tuesday, September 13

Vultures Conservation

Between the 18-22 September, the Israel Ornithological Centre (IOC) together with the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) and the Israeli Electric Corporation (IEC) have organised an International Conference and workshop on the Conservation of Vultures in Israel. I will be attending some parts of this workshop and will update on it when I'm back.

Mean while, I would like to get you all into the subject of Vulture Conservation using this great video which was produced as part of the International Vulture Awareness Day in Kenya, a country I have strong affiliation with after living there for 4.5 years (and travelling frequently up and down since 1997).

I think that this is one of the most important conservation issues in Kenya and surely that it is also affecting the birds which migrate into our side of the globe like Egyptian Vultures.  

Numbers of Egyptian Vultures in Israel have fallen down over the last 20 years very drastically, and it is believed to be partly due to their wintering grounds situation.
Griffon Vultures colonies in Israel have shown a very steep decline due to many reasons but one of the most important, is poisoning of cattle as part of breeders battles on grazing land...

Surely I will have much more to say on the subject after the workshop. Mean while, I will be happy if you will distribute this video and also send your comments on the subject.

On the birding front, migrants are coming through. The most interesting one is a beautiful male Ruppell's Warbler which was jumping next to the ringing station at the IBRCE. Re'a got some record shots which I'm sure will come later... and a group of 4 Rose-coloured Starlings flying east towards the Aqaba Bird Observatory 

Monday, September 5

a good one...

Daim, what a fresh morning we had!
As we opened the newly erected mist-nets (put them up yesterday), the great number of Red backed  and Masked Shrikes around. Probably all arrived the previous night…till the end of the day we caught 8 Red's and seen over 30(!) Most being adults.
Here's one for you-

As I got to the "East bank" nets , a yellowish belly caught my eyes vibrating in the net . "what the hell is wrong with this Blackcap?!" crossed my mind. Two steps forward- "it's yellow! It's not smeared with Acacia pollen! Hey, that’s an Icterine Warbler!!"

A rare but regular migrant and a new hand species for me!(not very cooperative model though…)

Over 60 birds, 17 species, finally a descent ringing morning!
Other good birds- a beautiful adult Common Whithroat

A juv Orphean Warbler, quite a few of those are caught and seen these days.

Fun as always-

A late Olive tree Warbler was hopping around, a Lesser Grey Shrike, some Spotted  Flycatchers
Yesterday's evening, the relentless Yotam opened the Swallows ringing season, with a modest but encouraging 16 birds catch.

You can be sure- many more Swallows, carrying foreign rings will get down here soon…

Waders?....wagtails?! …stay tuned !

Sunday, September 4

Moonless nights

Ringing on
Moonless nights are known for being good for wader catching. So I spent three nights out at the salt ponds (30/31.8 1/2.9 and 3/4.9) setting-up 90 meters of low (two shelves) mist nets. Wind is the real problem here in Eilat, Strong winds which normally will keep me home in other places blow for the greater part of the night. Yet catching was reasonably good, with birds of a rather normal verity: Little stints, Ruffs, Ringed and Kentish plovers, two Curlew sands and a Redshank.

On the night of the 3/4.9 two more special waders were add to the list: Marsh sandpiper (a ringing tick for me) and Broad billed sand; all in all 48 waders of 8 species in 3 nights, a good beginning.

At the station a great change is underway, during the last days a drop of 5-6 Celsius degrees makes it possible to resume ringing with mist nets, and today we opened 7 of them although no many passerines are around they will soon arrive, and we'll be waiting with open nets. In the 'firsts' section: Collared Flycatcher, Sedge Warbler, Little Crake, Spanish (punish) Sparrow , Willow Warblers  and many (up to 7) Lesser grey Shrikes in the area.
First of many: a Willow Warbler

Juv. Collared Flycatcher (note the worn tail)

Of last week catch, the first Yellow Wag.

Out in the fields we continue to catch Bee eaters as a damage reduction project for farmers. The Bee eaters surprisingly eat the bees the farmers use to fertilize their watermelons crops. The bees react by falling back into the hive and brave the colorful storm by waiting safe inside. This is great for the survival of the bees but damages the farmer's corps as there are almost no natural fertilizers around. We release our catch as far away from the hives as we can: Tabba border passage (14 km).
During a bee eaters catch on the afternoon of the 31st I saw a single Black winged Kite, probably an Asian bird of the ssp. vociferus. A nice bird after a month at Eilat!