Friday, 12 August 2011

Hot nights at Atlit saltpans

Last night (10-11/08) I had another great tern ringing session at Atlit. We (Re'a, Avishai and myself) set the nets up in evening, as usual, when many terns and tens of shore birds were around. One Eurasian Curlew was flying around us, being very vocal; this bird found its way into our net quickly after the nets were up. Eurasian Curlew is a regular but scarce migrant in Israel - it was the first for us in the hand and probably the first ringed in Israel after many years.

The night continued with a nice catch that included 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Little Stints, 1 first calendar year Slender-billed Gull, 1 Kingfisher (night migration?) and, of course, many terns with 36 Common Terns and 13 Little Terns. For dessert we caught a juvenile Black Tern! In Israel this species is less common than White-winged Tern, we have never caught a Black Tern before, so after short discussion about the identification of Black/White-winged Terns in this difficult plumage the ID was confirmed.

It was very interesting for us to study the different stages in juvenile tern moult. After fledging the neck and wing-coverts pattern is very brown-grey with many dark crescents; this pattern quickly disappears through moult into pure grey feathers. Tonight we had a large range of these Little Tern plumages; the early 'crescent-plumaged' birds were also short billed and short winged, according to their young age.

Eurasian Curlew

Curlew Sandpiper
Slender-billed Gull
Black Tern