Saturday, January 30, 2010
We checked several sites; in one site we had two territorial males and a very curious female, and in the second site one pair. It was an amazing night - full moon, no wind, pleasent temperatures, and the desert was truly stunning. Unfortunately Jonathan is of the wrong sex, though he is quite handsome... We had breathtaking views of the female owl with the strong moon light - it's so nice to see the birds without disturbing them with a torch. The bird flew so close to us againt the moon; we could even see it was moulting its remiges...
Some other recent stuff:
The resident White-throated Kingfisher at the JBO showed well yesterday afternoon:
And this morning in Ashdod ringing was pretty slow due to strong easterlies, but this Water Rail was a good bird:
Monday, January 25, 2010
I will probably give it another try tomorrow morning - stay posted!
Friday, January 22, 2010
Common Rosefinch is a rare migrant and winter visitor. However this seems to be a good winter for them - three have been ringed in the Hula and three by Yosef at Tsor'a. It's incredible - all three at Tsor'a were caught at exactly the same spot, at exactly the same time (10:30) - in a week's space from each other.
This is a 2cy but sexing is impossible at this plumage. The pinkish tones on the face are a result of feeding on blackberries.
Yosef - get yourself a proper camera!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
In these images the rump pattern and wing structure are better seen.
It is worth noting that range-wise, White-crowned breeds the closest of all four 'black' whetears - perhaps only 100 KM south. We have previuos records of birds wondering away from their breeding range in winter. All three other forms (Basalt, Black and variable) are extreme vagrants in Israel, and all were recorded in winter.
Shirihai in his 'Fifty New Species' article in Sandgrouse 21 (1999) gives a brief but important summary on the ID of picata in Israeli context. It is an important reference for this matter.
This bird is not a Basalt Wheatear - Uri didn't manage to get images of the bird in flight but he noted that it did not have the pale remiges typical for lugens. Further, adult Basalt Wheatear shows fine pale tips to the primary coverts. I am not sure about the age of this bird - the remiges seen quite brownish so it might be a 2cy, but nevertheless these pale tips are not visible on this bird. Also the white lower belly is clearly demarcated from the black, while in most basalt the black merges into the white.
It is agreed by most people who sent me their views that it is not a leucura, based on structure (head, bill and primary projection).
Even though Svensson mentions that some yound white-crowns may show a complete tail band, this tail band seems too massive to fit leucopyga. Is that true? However, there are a few tiny white feathers above the eye on the right side of the head - a bit worrying....
So what about picata? I have no relevant experience, and the literature on ophistoleuca is pretty limited. However, I and can't find anything in this bird that doesn't fit picata.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I began the day with a short seawatching session at Jaffa, following last nights' storm. I met Barak and together we wasted our time watching an empty Mediterranean. Before I arrived Barak had one Yelkouan and one Gannet, and after I arrived I contributed hugely to the scientific knowledge on our planet by finding another Gannet.
When I got to the office I got a call from Uri Makover. He had a funny 'black' wheatear in the north. I was busy and asked him the wrong questions, and got to the conclusion it was most probably an out-of-range White-crowned Wheatear.
Later Uri sent me images, and I wanted to shoot myself in the head! I called Uri and he told me the bird had a nice T tail band (eliminating white-crowned) and no white wing panel (eliminating 'Basalt' Wheatear). Half crying I ran to the car and made my way up north in the speed of light, while risking my marriage even more than ever. After a sunny morning, the weather deteriorated as I drove north, and when I got to the site at Kfar Baruch reservoir I felt like I was in bloody Europe - cold, windy and very very wet.
I met up with Uri and Shai and we started to look for the fXXXing bird which did not show. I don't know whether it moved somewhere or whether the weather was just too bad, but I had very little time and had to give it up. So after getting gloriously wet, I got back into the car and drove back home, defeated and tired.
I hope the other guys have better luck tomorrow, and that the bird sticks around long enough for a revenge...
This is a very interesting bird. We are left with Black O. leucura and Variable Wheatear O. picata (both with a single record, both Eilat 1982). Uri described the bird as not being especially big and bulky, and it does not look like that in the images - pro picata. But the brownish tones and the large white belly are better for leucura. I have no experience with leucura, and have seen picata in India in 1999, so if anyone out there has some useful comments on the ID of this bird, I'd be very interested to know.
These images were taken Uri Makover - thanks Uri for the images, and of course for this mega find!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
Birdwise, things were pretty slow with waterfowl numbers much lower than usual. This is somewhat surprising bringing into account the terrible weather conditions north of us this winter.
Zohar reservoir was the only productive water body. This beautiful reservoir is big and complex, with developed vegetation and always supports a great diversity. One of the first birds we saw was this huge White-tailed Eagle, spooking all the ducks and being harrassed constantly by crows. It was nice to see a 'real' bird, without rings, wingtags or antennas . I apologize for the miserable record shots - the bird was very distant.
Other quality birds there were two juv White-fronted Geese (my first geese this winter), 6 Ferruginous Ducks among the many other Aythyas, 3 Great Crested Grebes, and over 50 Wigeon.
There were about 500 cormorants and a single Pelican thrashing the fish in the reservoir in a real feeding frenzy:
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Chukars were very vocal, among some nice almost-spring vegetation.
Hybrid Laughing X Siberian Gull:
This Grey Heron was very happy among the roosting gulls.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Note that this individual has most greater coverts missing in its left wing, while its right wing is complete and shows two nice wingbars.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
We had an adult Common Gull - a pretty tame bird. As the name implies, it is a good rarity in Israel...
Monday, January 4, 2010
This pretty fuscus is on the pale end of the spectrum:
This 2cy cachinnans shows the classic head shape: