Monday, 19 March 2012

All quiet on Fair Isle... some gratuitous birdy pics from my Israel trip instead...

After my plane off Fair Isle was cancelled, I had a hastily rearranged schedule, which went something along the lines of: ferry, flight, flight, drive (700 miles), drive, train, flight - and that was just to get to Heathrow. On the plus side, it turned out that the route 'accidentally' ended up going via a Common Yellowthroat and Dark-eyed Junco, both new birds for me.

After being put on the spot, I decided that Temminck's Lark was my bird of the trip - well worth the 3am start on our first morning in Israel (after an overnight flight with very little sleep!).

But being a big fan of Wheatears, they were the bird family that impressed me most on this trip, with eight species seen. This White-crowned Black appeared in the mist nets on our first morning as a nice bonus whilst we were aiming for larks.
The variety of birds in Israel is astounding and the number of subspecies is at times bewildering (Lesser Whitethroats being a classic example). It was good to get experience of birds like this 'Caspian' Stonechat, an extremely rare bird in Britain, but one that's on the radar for Fair Isle.
Steppe Buzzards were only moving in small numbers, but one would occasionally interrupt the ringing as it drifted low overhead.
A fantastic bit of guiding from Itai saw him find us an Asian Desert Warbler at KM33, the bird we wanted to see and  literally the only bird we did see in this piece of desert, although had it been a couple of hundred metres further away it would have snuck over the border fence into Jordan.
Cretzschmar's Bunting in a park in central Eilat...

...where there was also this Cinereous Bunting, an unexpected bonus (especially as I missed one the last time I was in Israel) and another new species for me.
In fairness to Fair Isle, a few migrants can be seen at the moment, but a combination of a foul day of weather today (which turned so bad, we’ve ended up with our first guest of the season as an electrician doing some work at the Obs has been stranded overnight) and a dose of lurgy that has taken its toll on the Parnaby family one by one, has limited the amount of birding that has been done. A walk on Saturday saw me sat in the bottom of a five-foot deep ditch at 6.45am when the bit I was jumping gave way (a sure sign that you should give up on the day and go back to bed!) and also turned up three Goldcrests and a Woodpigeon. Three Siskins were at the Haa, with two of them then moving up to the Obs and a scattering of Lapwings, Ringed Plovers, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were also on the move. Saturday morning also saw a selection of singing and displaying birds, with a particularly good show of Fair Isle Wrens and a couple of pairs of Lapwing and Curlew on territory, a reminder that survey work is just around the corner.

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