maandag 28 maart 2011

2nd ringing session in the garden

Yesterday I decided to open up my net in the garden again in the afternoon, for the project. The rest of the weekend I was busy studying for my tests this week, so it felt good to do some ringing as some distraction.
I had the net opened from 12.30 till 18.45. I trapped a total of 8 birds. Not very much but I was satisfied with the birds I trapped.

House Sparrow 3
Greenfinch 2
Chaffinch 1
Dunnock 1
Blue Tit 1

No retraps yet. I trapped the first female House Sparrow, the 7 remaining were all males.

Males of House Sparrows are stunningly beautiful..
Adult Male Greenfinch
Same Male: note yellow alula and the grey edges on the primary coverts
Same bird again, now the tail
Chaffinch 2cy female
Note the difference in the tertials of the left and right wing.
Left wing: fresh, more ore less rufous coloured.
Right wing: abraded/worn tertails with a whitish edge.

Now back to the other study again...

dinsdag 22 maart 2011

First ringing @ my garden

Since a few weeks I have got my own ringing license and this means that I am now allowed to trap birds in my garden. It is for a special project, the so-called ring-MUS project (for more information see And since our garden is always filled with birds I was excited to do some catching! Last sunday was my first ringing session in the garden. It wasn't bad at all. With a 6 meter net I trapped a total of 16 birds.

House Sparrow 5
Great Tit 3
Blue Tit 2
Blackbird 1
Chaffinch 1
Greenfinch 1
Dunnock 1
Siskin 2

Furthermore I saw a Jay flying into the net but before I could even reach the net it flew out again, that would have been a nice bird!

House Sparrow
Siskin male 2cy
2nd Siskin, also male 2cy
Chaffinch male
the mist-net

zaterdag 19 maart 2011

Arctic ducks inland

For a while a superb male Velvet Scoter and Long-tailed Duck have been observed near Arnhem, at the Rhederlaag, a recreaction area. As we saw some nice pictures of the birds on the internet we decided to go there and we hoped for some good photo oppurtunities. We arrrived there at 16.00 We search for an hour orso and we didn't find the birds. Around 17.00 we walked to the other side of the area where we soon found the Long-tailed Duck, swimming with some coots at a close distance. I was able to take a reasonable shot of the bird:
We hadn't find the Scoter yet so we decided to check the western side of the lake, in the hope that it would be there. Arriving there we saw some other birdwatchers and indeed, we found the Velvet Scoter. A very fine male!

zondag 6 maart 2011

27th of February: last full day of birding at Eilat!

Our last full day in Eilat turned out to be the best ringing day so far this season with a total of 71 birds trapped and ringed. On our way to the ringing station we see 2 Jackals running away from the road (first to be seen)
In the morning we ringed 4 Reed warblers, 9 Sedge Warblers, 5 Savi's Warblers, 1 Bluethroat, 4 Sardinian Warblers, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 1 Whitethroat, Ruppels Warbler (highlight!), 8 Chiffchaffs, 3 Bulbuls and a Graceful Prinia. In the evening we trap 28 Swallows, 3 Red-rumped Swallows (beautiful swallows!) and a Cetti's Warbler.
 Caspian Reed Warbler ('fuscus')
Cetti's Warbler
Rüeppels Warbler, female!
Savi's Warbler
Red-rumped Swallow

The raptor migration existed out of 8 Steppeeagles, 1 Great Spotted Eagle, 1 Long-legged Buzzard and a Booted Eagle (the local one probably) that got hold of a Collared Dove by an impressive dive! In the IBRCE park I see my first snakes: 2 Schokari sand racers. In the ringing hut we see a Gekko.

In the afternoon we did some birdwatching on the North Beach, for amongst others Greater Sand Plover, we didn't find it however.. We did see Western Reef Heron, Pied Kingfisher, Armenian Gulls and in the evening some 30 White-eyed Gulls.
We decide to visit the canal between K19 and K20 as well for Dead-sea Sparrows. We soon find a group of 30-40 birds. A bit shy but showing well!
I don't know if you may this a recordshot but I'll just show it..:
Dead-sea Sparrow
Another nice bird we came across at K20

On our way back to the North beach we see some nice Marsh Sandpipers at the saltpans near the airport.
 Marsh Sandpiper

Next morning we're off to Holland again...

26th of February: ringing and good birding at Yotvata

This morning it seemed that there had been relatively good migration of (Caspian) Reed Warbler and Lesser Whitethroats.
The results:

Reed Warbler6-
Sedge Warbler5-
Savi's warbler21
Lesser Whitethroat71
Sard. Warbler14
Graceful Prinia1-
Spectacled Bulbul3-
Laughing Dove11
House Sparrow34

In the afternoon we (Tammo, Fabian, Teun, Bram and Roni) went birding at Yotvata. We see a good variety of pipits, wheatears, larks and wagtails etc:
 Isabelline Wheatear
Mourning Wheatear
Short-toed Lark
Water Pipit
Red-throated Pipit
Yellow wagtail 'feldegg'

At Yotvata circular fields I had another long-awaited lifer: Siberian Stonechat. We then drove south of Yotvata where we had a skulky singing Arabian Warbler in some Acacian shrub. Here I managed to get some reasonable shots of Scrub Warblers as well:
We ended the day at KM19 where we had 3 beautiful Lichtenstein's Sandgrouses dropping in around dusk! 2 males and 1 female showed themselves with under good light conditions. Definitively one of my personal highlights of the trip. Here we had a hunting Barbary Falcon as well.

25th of February: Nizzana!

This night we got out of bed around 1.45 am and at 2.15 am we drove away from Eilat, to Nizzana for a full day birding in the Negev. It was a 4 hour journey (with some stops as my father was the only one driving) so at 6.00 we arived at Nizzana. We experienced a beautiful sunrise in the empty desert.
 © Tammo Meijer
Fairly quick we arrived at a place between Ezuz and Nizzana that seemed like a perfect place to stop and look for Maqcueens bustard. We saw a few Dorca's gazelle's here:
After a few minutes of searching through the telescope I found a distant - but nice - displaying Maqcueens Bustard! It showed well for a couple of minutes and then the bird decided that it had displayed enough and walked away from us and was not to be seen again. A few minutes later I discovered 4 Cream-coloured Coursers. We had nice views of these beautiful birds. Now we'd seen the bustard we decided to head to the sewage ponds. We wanted to drive a road but we discovered that the bridge of the road was broken so we had to find another way to the ponds. This place however turned out to be a good place! We had wonderful views of a male Pallid Harrier (of which I was able to take a shot again near the ponds), a singing Bar-tailed Larks (probably more) and an impressive Wolf passing by! Furthermore we saw species such as Desert Lark, Brown-necked Raven, lots of Desert and Isabelline Wheatears and some Great grey shrikes. Near Ezuz we had our first displaying Scrub Warbler.
We managed to get to the ponds and while driving towards the ponds we had nice views of Chukars:
And Isabelline Wheatear:
There were lots of birds around near the sewage ponds. We hoped for Spotted and Crowned sandgrouse, we didn't see these species of sandgrouse but we did have good views of Black-bellied Sandgrouses:
Pallid harrier male:
And furthermore we saw quite a few Teals, Marsh Harrier, a very fine Peregrine Falcon (extremely white and 'polished', according to Teun this was some sort of subspecies?), the first Yellow Wagtail of the year, Green Sandpiper, Water pipit and so on. We also had a group of 8 overflying Temminck's Larks. As it was already a bit too late for other sandgrouses and as we had plenty of other things to do (Syrian Serin, Thick-billed Larks etc) we decided to head on southwards again as we had seen almost all of our targets!
On our way to Mizpe Ramon for the Syrian Serins we stopped by at Ein Avedat, to check out the spectacular view of the landscape. Ein Avedat reminded us of the American Grand Canyon! Furthermore we ate at the McDonalds of Ein Avedat, never ate Mac in the desert before :)Here we saw Eqyptian Vulture, confiding Blackstarts, Palestine Sunbirds, Hoopoes etc.
Above my only proper recordshot of this beautiful bird..
As we arrived in the vicnicity of Mizpe Ramon we soon found the famous Footballfield. As we got out of the car we immediatly hear singing serings: Syrian Serins! It turned out to be a group of 21 birds showing very well.
We also had the eastern race of Black Redstart here. Next site we would visit were the Haymeshar plains for Thick-billed Larks. Thanks for the directions of Itai leadings us to the right place! We found a group of +- 50 Thick-Billed Larks, several Trumpeter Finches, some Scrub Warblers and a nice Black-eared Wheatear!
At Grofit, near Yotvata we had a superb Barbary Falcon, a group of 6 Steppe Eagles and a Greater Spotted Eagle.

24th of February: eagle day

Today we started off with ringing at the IBCRE again, it was lovely weather with a pleasant temperature. We trap some local species such as Sardinian Warbler and Graceful Prinia. We also trap a nice male 2cy White Wagtail.
A very old female Sardnian warbler!
and a lovely Prinia
And Teun very happy with a White Wagtail!
During the ringing we see some Steppe Eagles, a Booted eagle (dark morph, probably a local bird) and a Greater Spotted Eagle (seen daily throughout the week). In the afternoon we decide to check the K19 and K20 saltpans. We see a good variety of species. We see a lot of ducks (mainly Pintails and Shovelers) but also a Great White Pelican:
Then we suddenly see an eagle sitting on the edge (on a dike) of a saltpan. I put the telescope on the bird and it turns out to be a splendid Bonelli's eagle! It was a ringed individual (ringed by the IBCRE last Decembre!). After a minute the bird flew off and after the bird made a 'round' it came back and flew overhead very closeby! Here is the result:
And a photo of one of the commonest waders here in Israel:
After having checked all the saltpans we decided to head to Amram's Pillars for Sinai Rosefinch. We fail to find the finches but along the way I find a nice female Hooded Wheatear. Furthermore we see a lot of Sand Patridges, a Desert Lark, a male Mourning Wheatear and rocks in every imaginable colour;)
Hooded wheatear female
Sand Patridge

We finish the day at the North Beach with the well-known Western Reef Heron and some 20 White-eyed Gulls.