Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Shorebirds in Ma'agan Michael

Last days have been very busy with ringing, especially in Tzor'a Valley Ringing Station, without time to write. On Sunday night a shorebird ringing at Ma'agan Michael, on Monday swallow roost in Tzor'a Valley that produced 200 birds, on Tuesday morning ringing at JBO and swallow roost in Tzor'a Valley that produced another 175 birds and on Wednesday morning again in Tzor'a Valley with 85 birds.
The shorebird ringing session is worth noting with many ringers, nets and birds. We started with a short reconnaissance look in the afternoon, about 750 meters of nets were set up and ended on Monday morning when we closed the nets - in between 281 birds were caught, most were shorebirds and a few nocturnal migrants. My most important insight from this successful night is that we have much more to learn about shorebird ringing.

Red-necked Phalarope

Kentish Plover

Thanks to all ringers, special thank to Francis Argyle that his actions and experience made this night very successful.

Ringing summary:
1 Night Heron
2 Black-winged Stilt
1 Avocet
1 Spur-winged Lapwing
1 Red-necked Phalarope
9 Kentish Plover
4 Little Ringed Plover
36 Ringed Plover
37 Dunlin
5 Curlew Sandpiper
113 Little Stint
17 Temminck's Stint
14 Snipe
16 Ruff
7 Wood Sandpiper
1 Green Sandpiper
9 Redshank
3 Kingfisher
1 Yellow Wagtail
1 Isabelline Wheatear
2 Great Reed Warbler

Saturday, 24 September 2011


Last week (19-23/09) produced some great ringing in Tzor'a Valley Ringing Station. The climax of this week surely came in form of a control of a Barn Swallow with a ring SAFRING UNIV CAPETOWN SA AP-96986. I am very eager to get the ringing details as soon as possible, but anyway this is very rare event. After 75 years of ringing in Israel, only five times Israeli ringers held a live bird ringed from Africa: one from Tunisia, two from Egypt and two from Kenya.

The South African bird was caught together with another 305 birds in a swallow roost session; several thousand Barn Swallows and Sand Martins came down to roost near my nets - definitely an impressive sight.

I get an answer from Hungary about their Reed Warbler I controlled on August 26 in Tzor'a Valley Ringing Station. The bird was ringed in Kenderes, Telekhalmi-halastavak on 23 July 2011 (2112 km). It's not very surprising but another nice piece data added to our database.
The total of the week is 612 birds ringed and another 86 retraps from 25 species. Most were 378 Barn Swallows, 83 Reed Warblers, 58 Willow Warblers and 41 Sand Martins. Other birds worth noting were a first Hoopoe ringed at Tzor'a Valley Ringing Station, first Bluethroat of this season, nice adult Bee-eater with a suspended moult and adult male Little Bittern with active primary moult.

Bee-eater - suspended moult

Little Bittern - active moult

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Swallows moult and ageing

Recently I have been working on a swallow roost once or twice every week. I enjoy ringing at night, and swallow are nice birds to ring. Most birds are Barn Swallow and Sand Martin, but also few Red-rumped Swallow. The adult of these species perform a complete moult on their African wintering grounds. Before autumn migrations the adults perform a partial or suspended moult: Barn Swallow - most partial and a few suspended and Sand Martin - most suspended. The partial moult includes, normally, a few wing coverts, tertials and body feathers; the suspended moult includes additionally a few innermost primaries.
In spring migration, after the complete moult these species' age cannot be determined, as all birds have fresh plumage.
In Israel, our local Barn Swallow population ('transitiva' type) perform complete moult after breeding season. This may complicate determining the age correctly when young birds with active post-juvenile moult can be mistaken with adults during their post-breeding moult.
Thanks to Hans-Jorgen Eilts for the interesting discussion about this moult.

Barn Swallow - adult - suspended moult, P1-2 fresh

Sand Martin - adult - suspended moult, P1-2 fresh

Sand Martin - juvenile, all plumage fresh with white edges

Yellow Wagtail

Last roost catch

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Tzor'a ringing

I spend last Thursday and Friday conducting pretty massive ringing in Tzor'a region. This activity produced a total of 230 birds. Most birds caught were Reed Warblers (62) and Willow Warblers (45). One of the Willow Warblers was a retrap from previous autumn, my first retrap after about 2500 Willow Warblers ringed in Tzor'a Valley.
Some new species for this season included Spotted Crake, House and Sand Martins, Garden Warbler, Red-backed Shrike, Ortolan and Cretzschmar's Buntings, and 2 Marsh Warblers.
I have set low nets in the flooded reservoir bank, and they are very productive for Sedge, Reed, Savi's and Willow Warblers. The Spotted Crake was also a nice reward for the effort and sweating boots in this muddy habitat.

Cretzschmar's Bunting

Ortolan Bunting

Spotted Crake

Red-backed Shrike

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Finally answer from Lithuania and more events from last week

Finally, I've received the ringing details of the Lithuanian Common Tern that I controlled at Atlit in mid July. It was ringed as breeding adult in the southernmost point in Lithuania, Niedus Lake - 2533 km north of Atlit, in May 2002.
The tern ringing season is coming to an end; last ringing session (30/08) produced only 12 Common Terns. But two shorebirds made the session worthwhile; first was a Black-tailed Godwit - first to me in the hand and probably the first ringed in Israel after many years; second was a Broad-billed Sandpiper, also nice and rather rare in Israel.
I tried my luck with shorebird ringing in Ma'agan Michael. At first it looked promising but eventually the total was only 15 birds: Ringed Plovers, Little Stints - 1 retrap from August 2009, Dunlins and 1 Red Knot - first ringed in Israel after more than 20 years.

Black-tailed Godwit

Red Knot


Ringed Plover

Broad-billed Sandpiper - juvenile

Black-tailed Gotwit

White-winged Tern

Whiskered Tern - juvenile

Last Wednesday (31/08) Ron Haran controlled one of my Striolated Bunting from Ein Salvadora (Judean Desert) at Einot Tzukim Nature Reserve (Dead Sea Shore). Only 21 km north, but very interesting movement. This species is local and irregular away from the desert cliffs.

Last Friday's (02/09) ringing session at Tzor'a reservoir produced a catch of 114 birds from 20 species. First Willow Warblers of the season for me!

Willow Warbler