Thursday, 16 September 2010

Two answers from Greece!

On 22/3/10 the IBRCE (Eilat) team controlled a Red-rumped Swallow with a Greek metal ring; this was the first Red-rumped Swallow foreign control in Israel. Finally we got the ringing data from the Hellenic Ringing Center. The swallow was ringed in spring 2004 (!) in Evros Delta on the eastern Mediterranean coast of Greece (1494 km). Red-rumped Swallows are common summer visitors and migrants in Israel. In recent years the IBRCE team started working on swallow roosts and ring about 300 Red-rumped Swallows every spring (March), contrary to previous years with less than 100 ringed annually in Israel; their effort was worthwhile!

View Red-rumped Swallow.kmz in a larger map

Red-rumped Swallow

In addition, we got the ringing data of a Greek-ringed Nightingale that was controlled at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory (JBO) last spring. The Nightingale was ringed in autumn 2009 also in the Evros Delta; this is an important stopover site for birds crossing the Mediterranean. Nightingale is a common migrant in Israel; we ring about 200 annually; however we have only two old nightingale controls from Cyprus (1969) and Egypt (1971). This is definitely a nice control.

Thanks to the Hellenic Ringing Center for sharing their data.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Eurasian Griffons in the Judean Desert

On Tuesday (14/9) I joined the NPA team to ring griffons in the Judean Desert. The griffon ringing and tagging project in Israel began several years ago, and since 50-150 griffons are ringed annually and many others recaptured. The griffon ringing takes place in several places: Gamla Nature Reserve, Hai-Bar Carmel Nature Reserve, Sde Boker (Negev) and mostly in the Judean Desert, where the largest Israeli population exists.

This research is extremely important for the conservation of the endangered griffon population and provides invaluable data on their movement inside Israel and in the whole region. This time 60 griffons were captured, but most were recaptured; 60 birds are a high proportion of the local population... Each griffon was ringed with one metal and two plastic colour rings, wing-tag attached, a full set of images taken, and blood samples taken too. For many griffons we had to replace their very worn marks (rings or wing tags). This replacement is definitely a big challenge for our database. Few griffons were fitted with GPS transmitters, which provide very valuable spatial data.

GPS transmitter

Griffon ringing is exciting but also requires much care; their bites are very dangerous!

Most of the ringed griffons were local, but few were migrants or winter visitors, originating from the Balkans and southern Europe. In recent days we were got regards from one of our griffons. N-1939 was ringed in autumn 2007 in Hai-Bar Carmel Nature Reserve and observed in the past in Greece and Turkey; it is a European griffon and a regular winter visitor in Israel. Now, it was observed again in Dadia forest, Greece (31/8) and in Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park, Bulgaria (9/9), and we hope to see him back in Israel soon.

View N-1939.kmz in a larger map

Thanks to Ohad Hatzofe (NPA) for his invitation and for the griffon data.

Constant ringing site: Nativ Halamed Hei

On 13/9 I joined Ron Haran at his ringing site - Nativ Halamed Hei. This is the nearest constant ringing site to my main ringing area, Tzor'a Valley. Ron has been ringing at Nativ Halamed Hei for about three years, mostly during migration. This site has produced some very good results, notably many interesting species (such as Israel's 4th Green Warbler last year) and many foreign controls. In addition, the close proximity to my ringing site (10 km) has produced a few interesting short-distance controls during the last three years that included 9 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Reed Warblers, 1 Barn Swallow, 1 Blackcap and 1 Chaffinch. These recaptures provide interesting information about the short-distance movements of these species.

This evening session produced 40 birds, including mainly Yellow Wagtails, Willow, Savi's and Reed Warblers and 2 nice Snipe.


Ron Haran

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

There's nothing like autumn!

It's still hot, but autumn migration is here, with many thousands of migrants around.
In Jerusalem, numbers are down with the disappearing pistachio fruit, but species richness is up. This includes Thrush Nightinale, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Masked Shrike and more.
Contrary to Jerusalem, in the Judean Plains autumn migration is speeding up. Two important species arrived in large numbers this week, Yellow Wagtail and Willow Warbler, and their numbers will peak up even more towards the end of the month. On 7/9 I ringed in the alfalfa field in Tzor'a Valley, Where there were about 1500 Yellow Wagtails, of which I ringed 140. Many were beautiful adults, most feldegg, but beema, thunbergi, flava and others forms were present too.

Yellow Wagtail

Masked Shrike

Willow Warbler
On 6/9 I joined Yoav Perlman and his them for wader ringing at Ashdod, after a failed swallow roost attempt at Tzor'a. It was definitely a good catch in Israeli standards, not too many waders, but many interesting species. In Israel wader trapping is very difficult as we don't have any mudflats and usually shorebird numbers are not so large like in other coastal regions. We ring in Israel only about 250 waders annually! For example, Ruddy Turnstone is a regular migrant in Israel but hardly ever ringed; we ringed one that night and the previous turnstone ringed in Israel was in August 2004… Another good bird was a Broad-billed Sandpiper; this is an uncommon migrant in Israel and the first time I handle one.

Broad-billed Sandpiper
Yoav and Wood Sandpiper
Kentish Plover
Ruddy Turnstone
Little Stint - active moult
Ringed Plover

I am looking forward to the coming migration days…

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Answer from Finland

I received an answer from the Finnish Ringing Center about their AT-214214 Common Tern, caught by myself on 30/8 at Atlit salt pans. This bird was ringed as young in summer 2008 on an island south of Hamina, southernmost Finland by Tatu Hokkanen. The distance between the ringing site in Finland and the recapture site in Israel is 3115 km (see map). This is the first Finnish control of Common Tern in Israel, and only the fourth foreign control of Common Tern in Israel (first from Finland, of course); others were from Ukraine (1984), Kenya (1983) and South Africa (2000) - see map. I fitted this bird with a white plastic ring with black code I0M and I hope it will be resighted again in Finland or perhaps this winter in Africa.
This is the first recovery of the Israeli tern project and we hope it is a good sign for this project. Soon I will post here a summary of our first tern season.

View AT-214214 in a larger map

Common Terns - Israeli recoveries:

View Common Terns in Israel.kmz in a larger map

Thanks to Finnish Ringing Center for their fast answer.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Great night at Atlit

Yesterday (29/8) we (Ohad, Yoav, Francis, Itai and I) spent the morning at Ma'agan Michael beach to learn how to use with a large whoosh net, suitable for catching flocks or large birds. We tried to tempt terns to land in our catching area with Little Terns dummies but this was hard and not enough time.

Little Terns dummies

I stayed in Carmel Coast area for terns night ringing at Atlit salt-pans, that became a night to remember…
My assistant this night was Carmel Zitronblat, he certainly brought a truck-load of luck with him. We arrived early in the evening and began setting the nets. The first part of the session did not look good. Tern numbers were down with only few hundred, probably most have left south. Until midnight we ringed 'only' 11 Common Terns. At 1:30 AM we were just about to take the mist-nets down, disappointed to see there were no birds in the net again, when a tern hit the net only few meters from me. This was an adult Common Tern wearing a ring and I saw only a metal ring (no plastic colour ring), so I thought 'this must be an interesting catch'; another look made me shout 'this is a foreign ring!'. The full caption on the ring is AT-214214 MUSEUM ZOOL. HKI FINLAND. This is surely an exciting catch and only second recovery of Common Tern in Israel from the northern hemisphere. The previous recovery was in 1984 from Ukraine. I hope to get the answer and complete details from the Finnish Ringing Center soon.


Finnish Common Tern

The next net round produced another exciting bird. I saw a large and dark bird in the net, when I got closer I found out this was a Whimbrel! Whimbrel is an uncommon migrant in Israel and very rarely ringed; it's a powerful and loud bird. Other birds this night included 1 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 2 White-winged Terns and 1 Little Tern.
I hope to have more exciting nights like this with terns (and more recoveries).


Little Tern - juvenile