Saturday 28 September 2013

Lanner Falcon

I've been seeing a Lanner/Saker falcon around the southern fields for a couple of weeks now. It always kept a discrete distance and avoided positive id until yesterday. I was standing in the shade of some trees sorting through the myriad Willow Warblers when suddenly every passerine disappeared into the thickest of the undergrowth. This is the reason . . .

. . . an impressive juvenile Lanner Falcon. Not sure whether this individual is ssp. erlangeri or tanypterus or a mix of both. To me it looks closer to the former.

Whatever the ssp, it's a great bird to see.

Apropos of confusing ssp - this Yellow Wagtail has me totally confused with its yellow spot behind the eye. Flavissima x cinerocapilla hybrid? Answers on a postcard please.

No field walk around here is complete without Short-toed Eagles - this one providing stunning views.

Hopefully the presence of a large falcon here augurs well for a good raptor winter.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Migrants at Sde Boqer

It's been a really good few days at Darren Burns' ringing site at Sde Boqer. A Sooty Falcon passed over yesterday, and a distant Montagu's Harrier the day before. Very large numbers of Willow Warblers with lots of other species present too. Star of the show so far was this cracking little Red-breasted Flycatcher:

But this juv. Common Rosefinch was as a strong contender too.

A couple of days ago we caught a Icterine Warbler, a national tick for me.

And this Marsh Warbler made a nice addition to the standard crop Of Savi's, Reed and Sedge Warblers.

Other net species: Masked and Red-backed Shrikes, Orphean Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Redstart, Bee-eater, Hoopoe,

Levant Sparrowhawks are passing though now - had a flock of about 50 over the weekend, just near the kibbutz. There's also been a huge influx of Turtle Doves but, despite some careful searching, I've had no luck with Orientalis, yet.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Besor Reservoir III

Cool autumn breezes this morning, a most welcome change. The Black Kites are back in force at the rubbish dump on the way to the Besor Reservoir with hundreds in the trees and fields - another sign of cooler weather to come. Arrived at the crake pool but it was very quiet indeed with only a couple of Sedge Warblers and a Water Rail there to keep the Cetti's Warblers company. On my way around the edge of the reservoir I found a family of five Barn Owls - great to see. Willow Warblers were all over the place, jumping out of bushes and flitting around the trees. Also lots of Red-backed, Masked and Lesser-grey Shrikes about. The first, for me, Tree Pipits of the season are now around.

Pick of the bunch today was this Purple Swamp-hen. This should be a very rare sighting in Israel and cause for a lot of commotion. However, a decade or so ago a few were released at this site and a small population appears to be holding on . . .
 . . . as evidenced by this juvenile.

Easy enough to spot when they are swimming or clambering around the reeds but they also seem to spend a lot of time skulking. Very easy to overlook - just a slight movement of the reeds and a glimpse of a vermilion beak.

Other interesting birds today were singles of Osprey and a very swift overflying Hobby - way too fast to photograph. This Black Stork was a lot easier . . . . 

Checked the local fields on the way home and was surprised by this Pied Flycatcher - rare at this location and time of year. Definitely a good sighting.

With thanks to Yoav Perlman for information on the history of Purple Swamp-hen at Besor Resrvoir.

Friday 6 September 2013

Besor Reservoir II

Golden Orioles are passing through the kibbutz at the moment. Had a couple of spare hours this morning so returned to my favourite pool in the reed beds of Besor Reservoir.

The difference today was the light - a beautifully clear, and almost cool, morning. Today's crop of birds was almost the same as that of a couple of days ago but this time I was able to take a few photos. Nothing particularly rare or unusual seen but a thoroughly enjoyable slice of early September birding.

Lots of Lesser Grey Shrikes around, more than in the last few days. This one was just outside the kibbutz.

What I like about this particular pool is that the birds seem so unconcerned about a human sitting on the bank. The RN Phalarope had flown but in its place was this Little Crake. Very skulking and secretive - hard to get good views of and even harder to photograph. The Water Rail (pictured below the crake) kept chasing it off its patch.

Lots of Clamourous Reed Warblers climbing the reeds, 

and coming to the pool edges. This one without a tail.

 The Kingfishers are still around but seem to prefer the deeper pools further back in the reeds.

Reed Warblers galore . . . .

Ditto Sedge Warblers.

 And, of course, the inevitable Cetti's Warblers. Lovely little half-moon under its eye.

Nice view of the back showing just how short the primary projection is.

Many Willow Warblers also taking advantage of the water and insects.

Hirundines included Red-rumped Swallow, Swallow and House Martin. Shrikes were the usual quartet - Masked, Woodchat, Red-backed and Lesser Grey. 

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Besor Reservoir - Red Necked Phalarope

After the summer hiatus bird things are picking up (for me). First note goes to Darren Burns and his nets at Sde Boker. I joined him in the last week of August when migration was starting to pick up. Many Willow Warblers, Orphean and Olivaceous Warblers, Lesser Whitethroats, Whitethroats (not so many), Blackcaps, singles of Marsh, Savi's and Barred Warblers and the usual trio of Shrikes among the migrants. A great surprise was a juv male Collared Flycatcher. A rarity at this time and place - the first August ringing record for Sde Boker.

The following week the wave of Willow Warblers continued - many very bright young birds from S and SE Europe with lots of yellow on them and finely streaked breasts. Eran found a Common Rosefinch at the ringing site but it avoided the nets. Common Rosefinch - Israel tick for me.

So, finally dusting off my camera this morning I headed off to Besor Reservoir to the Crake place. No crakes but a couple of Water Rail were busy picking flies off the scum on the last of the water. Several Yellow Wagtails were joining in the frenzy. Proceeded round to my favourite spot (a small, reedy pool). A couple of Common Kingfishers flew off across the reed beds. Cetti's and Clamourous Reed Warblers were doing their usual noisy thing. Lots of Sedge Warblers hopping about too. Out of the shadows swam a phalarope - Red Necked Phalarope! A lovely bird in any circumstances but great to see in a tiny (3 x 4 m) pool in the northern Negev. This juv-first winter individual was really confiding - swam within 10 m of me frantically eating the abundant flies. Superb! RNP is quite rare this of year (never common) and this is my first record in the northern Negev.

 very confiding . . . .

I never really though that Common Kingfishers were masters of disguise but this one was not so easy to pick out among the reeds.

Lesser-grey Shrikes are passing through now. They are easy enough to see on telephone wires but getting close enough for a photo is not easy.

A good start to the autumn!

NW India - 9th to 22nd February 2020 (Kosi River, Corbett NP, Haripur Dam, Pangot, Sattal, Chopta, Walterre)

If you look through the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent (Grimmett, Inskipp and Inskipp, 2011) you cannot help noticing the huge range of s...