Monday 29 October 2012

Israel, October 2012

Four of us made the trip to Kibbutz Kfar Ruppin this year, Chris and myself from SNRG, Chris’s brother Terry from the Isle of Arran, Scotland and Mike Jackson from the Lower Derwent Valley NNR, Yorkshire.

We collected the rings on Monday morning from our sponsor Kobi Meyrom and the only restriction put on us was not to ring any Little Egrets as Kobi had used over 2800 size G rings this year on Barn Owls and needed to save some for the start of the next breeding season. The largest brood he found was 11 chicks.

We set nets at the Kfar Ruppin ringing station and these nets were to remain in place during our stay but closed during the morning as conditions got too hot. First days catch was 86 birds ringed including 51 Palestine Sunbirds and a Desert Finch. Nets were closed about mid-day and after a short sleep the afternoon was spent shopping for food in the nearby town of Bet She’an.

Up at 04.30 Tuesday morning to be at the ringing station at first light 05.00 to open nets and add more nets. 82 birds ringed during the morning including 4 Tawny Pipits caught in the field behind the ringing station using a tape lure, 8 Bluethoats, a single Zitting Cisticola, a Masked Shrike and 3 Dead Sea Sparrows. The afternoon was spent looking for new ringing sites and touring around the fish ponds at the nearby Kibbutz of Tirat Zvi.

Wednesday morning was very much the same nets opened at 05.00 and a steady catch with 71 birds ringed, including 2 White-thoated Kingfishers, 9 Bluethroats a single Siberian Stonechat, 1 Savi's Warbler, 3 Dead Sea Sparrows and a Great Grey Shrike. Not a lot to do during the afternoon as it was too hot so Mike and Terry went a drive to the shop on the kibbutz and on the way back saw Chris walking along the road with a Black Stork under his arm, he had caught on his walk around the fish ponds. The stork was muddy as it had become entangled in the netting put out to protect the fish ponds so we cleaned it up and left in our bathroom for the night. Next morning it was full of energy and ready to go, the first thing it did was bite Chris as he got it from the bathroom. Mike ringed it and we let it go at the fish ponds at Tirat Zvi, it flew off strongly and joined other Black Storks none the worse for the night spent in our bathroom.

Thursday morning nets opened at 05.00 at the ringing station but it soon got too hot to catch birds and nets were closed early with 58 birds ringed including 2 Pied Kingfishers, 3 Clamorous Reed Warblers and an Indian Silverbill. We spent sometime during the afternoon cutting a net ride through the reeds over the canal where we caught a Pygmy Cormorant on our last visit..

Went for a drive to the fish ponds at Gesher, the water birds there were in the thousands, Great White Egrets, Black Storks, Spoonbills, Herons and Glossy Ibis, and hundreds of Black Kites.

We were a little concerned that daily ringing totals were dropping and we may have to move to another site to find more birds but we had a ringing demonstration to do the next day for staff from Kfar Ruppin and Tirat Zvi that work in tourism and conservation. Our fears were to be proved false.

Friday morning up at 04.30 and off to the ringing station nets opened by 05.00 plus the net set over the canal. Things soon started to pick up and by the time the demo started we were in full swing and we had some very nice birds to show them in exchange for the coffee and fresh dates they gave us. Chris came back from the canal net with a Little Bittern, 3 more White-throated Kingfishers and a Pied Kingfishers. 15 Bluethoats was our best daily total so far, our first Redstart, 2 more Savi’s Warblers, 31 Palestine Sunbirds and 4 more Indian Silverbills and a female Sparrowhawk that managed to get caught in the bottom shelf of a mist net. We finished the demo with 139 birds ringed so back to the kibbutz for a very late breakfast and an hour's sleep. In the afternoon we thought we would go for a drive around the fish ponds where Chris had caught the Black Stork to see if any other birds had become caught in the netting that is used to protect the ponds. We soon came across a tangled Black Kite and we could see it was still alive. Only one thing to do so Terry and I waded out into the pond armed with a knife and a large bird bag. We soon had it free and waded back to shore. The kite, none the worse for its ordeal of getting caught in the fish pond netting, was ringed by Mike and released. One wonders how many birds aren't lucky enough to be rescued in this way... Total for the day 140 birds ringed, our best day so far.

As the sun went down it was Shabbat the Jewish holy day so we would be a little restricted with what we could do for the next 24 hours. Tirat Zvi a holy kibbutz was closed with all the gates locked and roads blocked to it.

Saturday morning nets opened at the ringing station at first light and another good mornings ringing with 90 birds ringed including 2 White-throated Kingfishers, 2 Pied Kingfishers, 9 Bluethroats and our first Marsh Warbler, ringed by Mike. We had found a drained fish pond that was attracting a few waders so decided to net it in the evening and caught 3 Snipe and a Ringed Plover. Total birds ringed for the day was 94.

Sunday morning, back to the ringing station and nets opened by 05.00. In previous year's the ringing station produced very few birds after the first few days but this year things were very different with birds moving through day after day hence very few retraps, and very good catches of unringed birds. A total of 100 birds ring for the day including 5 Kingfishers, 2 White-throated Kingfishers, from the net over the canal, 19 Bluethroats and 1 Moustached Warbler ringed by Terry. Final total for the day was 100 birds ringed.

Monday morning and Kobi had asked to join him ringing at his site at Kibbutz Tirat Zvi so we were there just after 05.00 to help put nets up and had a steady catch during the morning until it got too hot but we did get breakfast brought to us at the ringing site by Sophie the head of tourism at the kibbutz and 3 of her assistants who stayed with us for the morning and had a great time handling birds for the first time and givern a talk by Kobi.

Bird caught included our second Whinchat, 2 Stonechats our second Marsh Warbler ringed by Terry, 2 White-throated Kingfishers and 21 Dead Sea Sparrows. We had seen a Little Bittern and a crake in the canal next to Kobi’s ringing site so decided to put a net up and try and catch them. The crake walked around the net and was never seen again but we did get the Little Bittern. Back to the drained fish pond in the evening to try and catch waders. Four nets set around the remaining water in the pond and we waited for the light to fade.

The catch was 1 Teal, 1 Night Heron, 2 Ringed Plover, 1 Little Stint, 1 Redshank and 12 Snipe. Total for the day 79 birds ringed.

Tuesday morning was spent back at the ringing station at Kfar Ruppin, we ringed 89 birds during the morning, including our first Laughing Dove and 2 Redstarts. At 11.00 we were back in the kibbutz setting nets for a ringing demonstration for the kindergarten children, think they all enjoyed seeing birds in the hand judging by the faces they were pulling.

After another tour of the fish ponds to check for trapped birds it was time for a couple of hours sleep, a shower and out for a meal in Bet She’an.

So to our last morning that was only going to be a short session as we had to take all the nets down pack and leave for the airport in Tel Aviv by midday. Ringed 41 birds including our third Stonechat and first Crested Lark.

We finished on 839 birds ringed of 52 species. Another great trip and all looking forward to going back next year. Photos and totals below...


1             TEAL
2             LITTLE BITTERN
1             NIGHT HERON
1             BLACK STORK
1             BLACK KITE
1             SPARROW HAWK
3             RINGED PLOVER
1             LITTLE STINT
1             REDSHANK
15           SNIPE
3             COLLARED DOVE
1             LAUGHING DOVE
11           KINGFISHER
6             PIED KINGFISHER
1             CRESTED LARK
1             SWALLOW
5             TAWNY PIPIT
85           BLUETHROAT
4             REDSTART
2             WHINCHAT
3             STONECHAT
11           BLACKBIRD
13           GRACEFUL PRINIA
21           BLACKCAP
1             SEDGE WARBLER
2             MARSH WARBLER
33           REED WARBLER
6             CETTI'S WARBLER
1             ZITTING  CISTICOLA
5             SAVI'S WARBLER
204         CHIFFCHAFF
83           WILLOW WARBLER
2             GREAT TIT
1             GREAT GREY SHRIKE
1             MASKED SHRIKE
1             HOUSE SPARROW
55           SPANISH SPARROW
37           DEAD SEA SPARROW
3             GREENFINCH
2             DESERT FINCH

Sunday 21 October 2012

Goldfinch prisonbreak?

The Goldfinches in my garden have been increasing in numbers recently and my small feeder trap has been bustling and chirrupping with activity every morning.Today was a successful day with 31 birds ringed in just an hour and perhaps most interestingly I caught a bird with colour rings. I was initially excited that I'd controlled a bird that had been ringed as part of a colour-ringing project, but there was no metal BTO ring to be found! After a phone call to Pete, it became clear to me that the bird was likely to have been an escaped cage bird. Seeing as the rings were not closed rings (used by breeders on small chicks) it also seems possible that this bird has been trapped, perhaps illegally, as a full grown bird before it made its get-away!

I could find nothing out of the ordinary in terms of strange moult and the bird seemed to be 'normal'. After taking these photographs I released it without ringing it. I'd be keen to know if anyone else has come across birds like this though?



Get well soon

She's a group member we all know and love (apart from perhaps when you're sitting on the handbrake on the track to Granby...) so we wish her a speedy recovery after one of her latest ever Barn Owl box checks resulted in a knackered diff lock linkage....

Monday 15 October 2012

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 14 October

It was time to close down the Grange side of Holme Pierrepont for the winter and a small team of Tom, Nabegh and I braved the frost on Sunday morning to have the last session there. A Cetti's calling greeted us first thing and the sun soon burned off the frost and a glorious sunny morning developed. We set all the usual nets but were not that surprised to only have a small catch. The total catch was only 16 including 4 retraps but included 4 warblers and a couple of Goldcrests. The warblers were Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Reed Warbler and that calling Cetti's, another new one. We took down and removed all the (remaining) poles and guys, I think a major clearing exercise will be required before next spring. Little movement overhead except for a few Redwing and Siskin plus at least four Jay's, they seem to be here in abundance.


Monday 8 October 2012

Attenborough Migration Day (Autumn Event) Sunday 7 October

It does not seem a year could have passed since this event last year but again we put on a ringing demonstration in support of it. Gary, Mick P, Nabegh, Tom and I braved the glorious weather and seemed to please a good number of visitors, especially the children. With not a breath of wind it was rather disappointing to get only 3 birds from the first two net rounds but things picked up and we ended with 37 birds including 4 retraps and 22 new Tree Sparrows. Many thanks for the staff at the Centre for keeping us fed and watered again.


Odd Yellowhammer moult

Adrian Blackburn caught this young male Yellowhammer in his garden on 29 September. It appeared to have moulted some of its remiges and whilst this has been noted widely in Greenfinch, Goldfinch and some Linnets, nobody contacted so far has seen it in this species before.If anyone reading this blog has seen anything similar, please let us know.

Saturday 6 October 2012

Cormorant recovery

One of the Cormorant chicks ringed at Attenborough earlier this year has been recovered. It was found dead in August 82km away in Notton, West Yorkshire.