Saturday 27 September 2014

Spotted Crakes

More crakes this morning. The water by the little dam/weir held an adult and two juvenile Water Rails and two fine Spotted Crakes. This one approached to c. two metres! They seem to be very sensitive to sound (a distant ATV scared them out of view) but if you are quiet and still they'll treat you as part of the scenery.

Great to see Bluethroats again - there were several hopping around the reeds with the Cetti's and Reed Warblers. Still impressive numbers of Red-backed Shrikes too.

Pallid and Marsh Harriers, Osprey and Lesser Spotted Eagles were the more interesting of the raptors. So nice to get a perched view of an LSE, especially when it shows off its nape patch so well.

(lucky moment - 100x, no cropping)

Addendum: I'm pretty sure the eagle I posted on the 24th was a Lesser Spotted, not a Steppe and I've corrected the text accordingly.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Crakes, Rails and Lesser Spotted Eagles

Returned to HaBesor Reservoir this morning to look for autumn crakes. Two minutes at my favourite spot (crakes too) produced a lovely Little Crake.

'Crake Alley' (the little dam) was crake free but had a couple of Water Rails, of which only one showed itself for a photo-op.

Returning back around the edge of the reservoir there were large numbers of Plain Tiger or African Monarch (Danaus chrysippus) butterflies. I'm amazed at bird migration but doubly so when insects do it!

We're at the tail-end of the Lesser-grey Shrike season now - this straggler showing off a truly fearsome bill.

I saw several very distant eagles during the morning  - way too far to identify with certainty until this one popped out of the trees on my way back to the car. Lesser Spotted Eagle!

I'm still using a Canon SX50 for day to day birding/recording and it is supposed to be not so good for birds in flight. I would agree but the eagle shots above are good enough for me. Overall, I feel the limitations of my photos lie with me not the equipment I use. With holidays coming up there's plenty of time to practice!

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Levant Sparrowhawks and Collared Pratincoles

Very few birds moving in the Pistachio patch nets at Sde Boker this morning and here's the reason why - Levant Sparrowhawks!
(Ironically, although passerine activity was minimal, a male Sunbird hung around this one chattering angrily.)

When this kettle of c. 500 (kettle centre shown) left the Kibbutz Sde Boker orchards a couple of km away even the bird calls stopped. Awesome to see such a huge flock. Within five minutes they'd spiralled up and out of sight.

Yesterday I stopped off at Revivim sewage to see what was about. Saw a single Collared Pratincole but didn't manage any photos. Today I revisited the site and found two!

Such disapproving looking birds, almost as permanently annoyed as Stone-curlew.

This juvenile (? noticeable smaller than the other one with dark streaking on the breast) actually looks sociable,
Back to the adult . . . .

Other birds on the pools were Dunlin, Little Stints, Snipe, Ringos, the usual sandpipers etc. not many species but good numbers

Final stop was HaBesor Reservoir. Lots of Masked Shrikes as expected, 

and a round half dozen Red-backs along a 300m stretch of fence.

Final and most colourful bird of note was this Purple Swamp-hen spp. madagascariensis with the distinctive green back. Skulking birds but so beautiful when they show themselves.
(This shot was taken at 200x magnification (35mm equivalent of 4800, handheld!)

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Marsh Warbler

A lot of stuff cleared out last night and the Sde Boker nets were quiet this morning. However, in migration season here the pot is never empty and we ringed this cracking Marsh Warbler. This individual has quite a greenish hue to its back. I have to admit to resorting to biometrics to separate most Marsh and Reed but this one was immediately obvious.

The first Wryneck of the season appeared too. This one really put on a neck bending show for us. Lovely birds - I never get bored of them.

Monday 1 September 2014

Besor Reservoir again

It's a great time of year to be playing around with a camera. The photos below have been cropped where necessary and some of them have been through some post processing. Went back to the Besor Reservoir this morning - still plenty of Shrikes around.

Juvenile Red-backed,


A very pin headed looking Squacco Heron,

side view, that's better.

Several Great Reed Warblers around,

and the Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters are still around. Adult and juvenile here,

with others frustratingly back lit.

This Lesser Grey Shrike was taken at 1200mm optical zoom with 2x digital zoom on top. Not a great photo but the moment was good.

Lots of Isabelline Wheatears around now too.

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