Wednesday, 14 March 2012

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The FIBO team have just returned from a ringing trip to Israel, based at the International Birding and Research Centre Eilat, so apologies for the lack of updates from the island recently. We had a fantastic time: lots of birds ringed, over 160 species seen, plenty of new birds for everyone and a very enjoyable time at a location that probably couldn’t be more different from Fair Isle! Huge thanks to Itai, Yotam, Tsadok and the rest of the team at the IBRCE for their hospitality, help, expertise and tips on where to see new species. It would be nice to see some of the IBRCE team on Fair Isle at some point, I don’t think the Shetland weather was a major draw but the thought of ringing Storm Petrels, Skuas, Puffins etc might have persuaded them (and of course anyone else reading this who would like to get their hands on some seabirds should consider a holiday here in the summer).
I’ll be writing up our trip report at some stage, so I’ll post an update on that later, but in the meantime, here are a couple of pictures to keep you going.

Difficult to choose a star bird for the trip, but this Little Green Bee-eater in the hand was a contender.

A trip into the desert for ringing on our first morning produced some stunning species including Temminck's and Desert Larks, White-crowned and Isabelline Wheatears and these Trumpeter Finches.

A tiny park in the centre of Eilat produced Cinereous Bunting, Masked Shrike and over 20 Cretzschmar's Buntings - it was very odd to see the latter shuffling around in flocks like sparrows.
It's a rubbish photo - but it's a Macqueen's Bustard, so I don't care! One of about six seen on a morning trip to the Negev.

Opening the nets at 5.45am every morning was never a chore given the birds we were catching. Some days saw up to 200 birds trapped, with Chiffchaffs and Lesser Whitethroats predominating but a wide range or birds including this Eastern Orphean Warbler - what odds one of those on Fair Isle in 2012?
Visible migration included several species of raptors, gulls, wildfowl, waders and passerines, with one day producing several hundred Cranes overhead.
It wasn't just about the birds (although most of it was in fairness!), the mammal list was pretty impressive and included Nubian Ibex.
But what of Fair Isle? While I was away, I have missed the start of spring, with several species making their annual debuts incuding Black Redstart, Pied Wagtail, Reed Bunting and Woodpigeon, although thankfully there was no 'biggy' during my abscence. Skylarks and Oystercatchers are everywhere (a flock of 70+ Skylarks flew over the Vaadal whilst I was repairing it yesterday) and there have obvioulsy been a few thrushes on the move. I also missed a visit by the RSNO, some good displays of Northern Lights and an earthquake! Hopefully the exciting start to the year will continue and there'll be more news to give you soon.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back! you didn't miss much... A few common first of the year... which look quite insignificant as compared to Little Green Bee-eater!


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