Sunday, 20 April 2014


Finally, after four years of tern ringing, came the first sign from the African wintering quarters, but in a less expected way. On Wednesday (16/4) we started the season with first ringing session. We captured 93 birds: 3 Slender-billed Gulls, 12 Black-headed Gulls, 5 Little Terns and 73 Common Terns. One of the Common Terns was a control from South Africa with the ring SAFRING UNIV CAPETOWN SA CV-51330! The bird was ringed on the East Coast of South Africa, Port Alfred, 7,387 km, in October 2010, by Tony Tree.

Thanks to Inbal for her help that night and to Tony for sharing the ringing data.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Wheatears and shrikes

Last Thursday-Friday (6-7/2) we went south to the Negev Desert for a Wheatear and Shrike ringing session. My aim, as always, is to study their moult strategies. We started with mist-netting at Hameishar Plains. This winter is particularly dry and no germination took place in this habitat; this resulted in very low bird densities. Nevertheless we ringed 3 birds, Desert Lark, Sardinian Warbler and beautiful Asian Desert Warbler. After this poor start we worked with spring-traps for wheatears and shrikes. During two days' work we ringed 1 Isabelline Wheatear, 13 Mourning Wheatear, 1 Finsch's Weatear, 1 White-crowned Wheatear and 5 Southern Grey Shrike - at least one elegans type.

Asian Desert Warbler

Mourning Wheatear

White-crowned Wheatear

Finsch's Wheatear

Thanks to my partners to this trip, Ron and Arad, and also thanks to the ringers who helped during those two days: Yoav, Meidad and Yoram.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit

In recent weeks I have ringed two Buff-bellied Pipits Anthus rubescens japonicus in Beit-Shean Valley. This species was discovered for first time in Israel by Hadoram Shirihai, back in 1981. The first records were considered to be of an 'unusual Water Pipit', according to the very limited literature available back then, and the true identity was revealed only in 1984 by Shirihai and Alstrom. This pipit breeds in central and eastern Siberia and winters in Japan and E Asia, and also, in small number, in the Middle East. It's smaller than Water Pipit, between Meadow and Water pipits. Leg colour is reddish-brown and not black like Water Pipit. Upperparts are uniformly dark greyish olive-brown and unstreaked. It has bold breast streaking, very close to Meadow pipit, unlike coutelli Water Pipit that is the common form in the Middle East. The moult strategy and ageing are very similar to other pipits, the post-juvenile moult is very limited, including only LC (n=3), and ageing is done by MC pattern and wear.

Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus rubescens japonicus - juvenile




Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Mt. Hermon and more

Last Friday (15/11) we ringed on Mt. Hermon. It's the highest point in Israel and a very interesting site obtain data on northern and eastern species that are uncommon in Israel. My primary aim was to obtain moult data on Red-fronted Serins, that were seen there recently in good numbers. We ringed a total of 359 birds, most were Chaffinch; interesting species included 1 Radde's Accentor, 1 Red-fronted Serin and 3 Yellowhammers that are uncommon in Israel.

Radde's Accentor

Red-fronted Serin - juvenile

Yellowhammer - male

On Thursday I was surprised to find a Little Bunting in the net in Tzor'a. It's a good rarity in Israel, but it's a special year for this species and this is the 3rd found in Israel this autumn.

Little Bunting

I continue my work in Beit-Shean Valley, no great surprises in this area lately, but Dead-sea Sparrows are always nice to ring.

Dead-sea Sparrow

Thanks to Francis, Ron, Yael, Rafi and Amir for their help.

Monday, 21 October 2013

September to mid October

I continued with the intensive work in the Beit She'an Valley to collect moult data. This period produced more than 1200 birds ringed of 65 different species. The interesting or irregular species in my nets were 1 Little Grebe, 3 Teals, 1 Black Stork (in mist net…), 1 Temminck's Stint, 6 Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, 2 Red-throated Pipit, 1 Tawny Pipit, 12 White Wagtail, 313 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Citrine Wagtail, 19 Isabelline Wheatear, 2 Eastern Stonechat, 67 Cetti's Warbler (big number), and 43 Desert Finch.

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

Desert Finch

Little Bittern

Tawny Pipit

Isabelline Wheatear

Citrine Wagtail - adult female

Eastern Stonechat - first year male

Little Grebe


Black Stork

In Tzor'a Valley I worked intensively during 20-24 September. This session produced also nice figures, 1400 birds of 35 different species. Most were Swallows (370) and Willow Warblers (700). Two interesting species were Balkan Warbler and Common Rosefinch.

Yellow Wagtail - adult male

Common Rosefinch

Thanks to Ron Efrat, Ezra Jasper, Arad Ben-David and Kobi Meyrom for their assistance. Also to the British team, Terry Southall, Gary Goddard, Mike Jackson & Christopher Southall, who worked in Beit She'an Valley during this period and joined some nice sessions.

European Bee-eater - second year after partial moult