Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ashdod - hot and humid

Ringed this morning at my site in Ashdod. Not too many migrants around but 5 Common Kingfishers ceratinly added colour and flavour to the morning. One was adult which is unusual - about 95% of the Common Kingfishers that reach Israel are young. Adults are easily aged by an arrested primary moult.
A quick look at the Ashdod ponds was quite productive but I was too hot and sticky to get my camera out. All I wanted was to close the car windows and let the aircon chill me down a bit. Anyway, shorebird numbers are growing slowly; 'highlights' were 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Temmick's Stint, 1 Curlew Sand and 3 Marsh Sands. Still waiting...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ma'agan Michael - migration in full swing

I spent the last three days at Ma'agan Michael. I took part in a data anlysis workshop given by Nat Seavy of PRBO. After visiting PRBO last year it was great for me to meet Nat over here, and of course I learned so much from his experience and expertise. Unfortunately I had very little time for birding, and only this morning I had a couple of hours to do some birding with Nat.
Ma'agan Michael beach was very birdy, with many terns, gulls and shorebirds. We had five Greater Sandplovers, this one being rather tame and showing well in the early morning light. Note the huge bill and yellow legs.

Greater Sandplover

There was a good selection of other shorebirds but nothing too exciting. However Turnstones are always amusing to watch.

Ruddy Turnstone

There were several hundred terns roosting on the beach. Most were the local Common Terns, but there were good numbers of Little Terns and White-winged Terns - about 50 of each.

Little Tern
I had two colour-ringed Little Terns that had been ringed as part of a project run by the NPA, both were ringed at Atlit (15 km north) earlier this month. Hopefully some Israeli terns will get sighted in South Africa this winter.

White-winged Tern (what a poor name)
After this quick look at the beach we drove around the nearby ponds. This did not produce too much, with the only birds of interest being 1 Eurasian Cuckoo and 1 Temminck's Stint.
As you can see the workshop itself was great fun too. Here we R analyzing some data ;-)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Welcome arrivals at Ashdod

This morning my weekly visit to Ashdod ponds proved a bit more worth my while than previous visits. At last the Calidris have arrived and were well represented - 16 Little Stints, 1 Temminck's Stint and 1 Curlew Sandpiper, all adults in pretty summer plumage. These are ugly record shots, in fact I have no idea why I uploaded them.

Curlew Sandpiper Temminck's Stint
Also new were 20 Ruff. Lots of common stuff - wood, green, marsh and common sands, redshanks, and 3 LRP's.

Wood Sandpipers

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ashdod July 14th

Nothing special to report. I'm being persistant with my local patch; I will not give up until I find a first for Israel there... Yesterday not too many shorebirds, and only common stuff (wood, green, redshank) with no Calidris yet.

This Spur-winged Lapwing was nicely back-lit:

This partially leucistic Black-winged Stilt has been around for a while:

A pair of Egyptian Geese bred at the ponds for the first time:

Hermon ringing totals

At last Nadav and myself punched all the data from last weekend in, below are the species totals. The full totals were 1488 new birds and 135 retraps (most from previous years). Not bad!

Upcher's Warbler

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mt. Hermon ringing weekend

Spent the weekend ringing on Mt. Hermon. We did our annual monitoring effort at the large ponds near the lower cable station, and it was busier than ever. We had a good, large team that coped well with the huge numbers - we ringed over 1600 birds (!) over the weekend, and collected huge amounts of data. I hope to get the total figures later this week after all the data gets punched in. It was already evident that it was a good breeding season on the mountain, with large numbers of juveniles of all species. Linnets were the most dominant species, with higher numbers than ever. We had no great surprises, but caught most expected low- and mid-altitude specialties, some in relatively large numbers. I appologize for the few images - I was really busy the whole weekend. I also appologize for the dust on the sensor of my old 20D, I couldn't bother clearing all the particles out with photoshop...

Western Rock Nuthatch - juvenile Sombre Tit - adult
Syrian Serin - 2cy male
Woodlark - adult
As always, it was so much fun just watching the thousands of birds coming in to drink, enjoy all the Hermon specialties around, the weather and the scenery. I spent about one hour in bad light trying some field photography which was quite useless. I managed only these half-decent images:

Syrian Serin - juvenile
Syrian Serin - adult male

In the field we did not see too much interesting stuff. Only one Crimson-winged Finch came down to drink. A Grey Wagtail was a nice mid-summer surprise. Eyal had an adult Red-fronted Serin briefly, bastard.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Shorebird migration gaining speed

This morning I checked my 'local' patch - the Ashdod ponds and seashore. At the seashore no Crab Plovers this time but 15 Yellow-legged Gulls at sea were interesting. We know so little about our YLG's.
At the ponds shorebird numbers are building up, and at last I had triple-figures of migrants today, and this without a single Calidris!
As usual, Tringas were the bon-ton, with about 40 Redshank, 50 Wood, 40 Green and 5 Common Sandpipers. Among the scarcer species were one good-looking Spotted Redshank, one adult Greenshank and one adult Marsh Sandpiper. Two Little Ringed Plovers were new arrivals. No Spotted or Buff-breasted Sandpipers either this time...

Spotted Redshank
Marsh Sandpiper
Black-winged Stilt