Birding News

 

June 2016

Towards the end of the breeding season we observed mixed flocks, with juvenile and adult birds of a variety of species. There were also several rare individuals that were seen in the area, just before the beginning of the migration. The shallow fishponds attracted various water fowl: Greenshank Tringa nebularia, Redshank Tringa tetanus, Wood Sandpiper Trnga glareola, Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus and even one Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii.                                                                               The breeders have begun to congregate in flocks of dozens: Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus,  Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus, Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis and  Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax.  The ripening sunflower fields attract the seed-eaters: Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur, Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri, Greenfinch Carduelis chloris, Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis, Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus and Linnet Carduelis cannabina.                  Every alfalfa field that has been harvested attracts a variety of species: White Stork Ciconia ciconia, Roller Coracias garrulus, Cattle Egret, Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius, Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus and Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina.  Towards the end of the month the Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola joined them.                                                                                  The colony of Collared Pratincoles in our area consists of about 15 pairs. This year has not been a very successful breeding season; we counted about 12 fledglings. Nestlings were probably taken by Common Kestrels Falco tinnunculus and Lesser Kestrels Falco naumanni.

The Black-winged Kite Elanus caerulus has become a permanent resident in the area. Recently, about 10 individuals were seen in the area, some of them, recognized by birdwatchers, have been breeding here.                                                                    Each year more Long-eared Owls Asio otus are breeding in the valleys, spread out from west to east.     The highly successful breeding season of the Barn Owls Tyto alba is over. Of the 330 nesting boxes in the valley, 150 were occupied. Thanks to the hard work of Koby Meyrom and Shauli Aviel, more than 450 nestlings were ringed. The high yields in the fields this year indicate the successful hunting ability of the Barn Owls with rodents, particularly voles.

 

May 2106

May was the month of fledglings and the end of the spring migration. Weather-wise it was a comfortable                   month filled with nest building all over the valley. As the migration ended, all the summer visitors arrived.

The Bee-eaters Merops apiaster are nesting in the marlstone cliffs with the Little Owl Athene noctua, Roller Coracias garrulus and also the Little Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis.

In the fields in the valley, breeding and running around with their chicks are: Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus, Stone–curlew Burhinus oedicnemus and Crested Lark Galerida cristata.

A small group of Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola is enjoying a ploughed field in a quiet part of the valley. Birdwatchers in the area are anxiously monitoring their breeding which is extremely sensitive to any disturbance. To our relief the farmers in the area have again cooperated with us and have delayed any work on these fields until the end of the breeding season in July.

At the edges of the fishponds, in the corners with a bit of vegetation, a few pairs of water fowl are incubating eggs: Coot Fulica atra, Moorhen Gallinula chloropus, Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis and Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus.  The large nests of the Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus can be seen on the tamarisk trees in the area.

 

April 2016

April is the middle of spring in the valleys, the migration is at its peak and the breeding season is in full swing.  We have seen many songbird species – migrants, residents and summer visitors:-                                                                                                          The migrants: Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus, Thrush Nightingale Luscinia luscinia, Garden Warbler Sylvia borin, Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus, Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli, Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria, Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum,  Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata, Citrine Wagtail Motacila citreola, Common Tern Sterna hirundo, Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica, White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus.                                                                                                                           The breeders: Namaqua Dove Oena capensis (has become a common breeder in the valley!), Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra,  Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla.  A group of Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola have been moving around the the valley this month; perhaps they are searching for a suitable nesting site.  Thousands of doves are singing and breeding in the thicket of Tel Saharon, the three species that are common here – Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto, Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur and Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis. Joining them in the reserve are: Hooded Crow Corvus corone cornix and the White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis.

Every day we see Night Herons Nycticorax nycticorax in impressive courtship colours,  roosting in the palm undergrowth.

Observations from the Mount Gilboa area report a strong raptor migration during the day: Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus, Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, Goshawk Accipter gentilis, Honey Buzzard Pernis apovorus, Levant Sparrowhawk Accipter brevipes, Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus, Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina and Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis. This is also an interesting season for various Shrikes: Great Grey Lanius excubitor, Masked Lanius nubicus, Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor and Red-backed Lanius collurio.

The wintering water fowl are migrating and spotted at an unusual time were : Spotted Crake Porzana porzana, Little Crake Porzana parva, Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, Ruff Philomachus pugnax, Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, Garganey Anas querquedula, Wigeon Anas penelope, Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea, Little Stint Calidris minuta, Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii, Great Snipe Gallinago media. There were also migrating flocks of Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia, Pelicans pelecanus onocrotalus, White Storks Ciconia ciconia and Black Storks Ciconia nigra.

In addition, there are some species that remain here, in small numbers, for the breeding season: Coot fulica atra, Moorhen Gallinula chloropus, Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus, Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis and Purple Heron Ardea purpurea.

In the fields are the ground nesting birds: Stone–curlew Burhinus oedicnemus, Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus and Crested Lark Galerida cristata.

In the thickets and the scrub he first fledglings are appearing: Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis, Palestine Sunbird Nectarinia osea and Spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotus xanthopygos.

The most colourful and most impressive of all are the cliff-nesters: Roller Coracias garrulus, Little Owl Athene noctua, Bee-eater Merops apiaster and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus.   

 February 2016:

We are nearing the end of winter with a slight rise in temperatures and longer days. The vegetation in the valley is blooming and there is an abundance of food. The wintering species are getting ready to for the northward migration – they are feeding well and changing colour. Some of the songbirds have already begun their breeding season. The colour change is most noticeable with the Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus, some of the birds wintering birds here already have black heads. The adult Black Storks Ciconia nigra have glossier feathers, perhaps as a result of the spring sunshine.  We see the plumes on the Grey Heron Ardea cinerea and the Little Egret Egretta garzetta, and the puffed up feathers of the Great Egret Ardea alba before the migration and breeding season.

The first nests have been built: the Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus has arrived in the valley; the Little Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis and the Little Owl Athene noctua have been seen on the marl cliffs along the Jordan River. The songbirds have started their courtship behavior, singing and building nests on the kibbutz: Palestinian Sunbird Nectarinia osea, Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus, Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri, Hoopoe Upupa epops, Spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotus xanthopygos and Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula.

Towards the end of the month the valley was filled with the courtship calls of the Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus in the mornings and the evenings, the Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis during the whole day, the Eurasian Scops Owl Otus scops towards evening and the whole night, and the Barn Owl Tyto alba in the area of the water tower calls out every evening.

A few special birds: the Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus is moving around the valley, perhaps searching for a site to build a nest; a flock of hundreds of Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus  find new, suitable shallow fishponds every week and a Baltic Gull Larus fuscus fuscus that was seen among a group of Armenian Gulls Larus armenicus

                                      Little Owl    Shlomi Shamai                                                                

 

January 2016:

January is the middle of winter and is the peak season for all the species that winter in Israel. The fishponds fill up with water from the freshwater springs and are enjoyed by all the ducks. The raptors enjoy the abundance of food in the fields and the songbirds gather in their feeding areas and at their roosting sites.

 

The fishponds are getting ready for the small fish in the spring. The algae and the plankton in the water attract thousands of ducks. On the Kfar Ruppin reservoir we counted hundreds of Pochards  Aythya ferina with several dozen Tufted  Ducks Aythya fuligula and a few Ferruginous  Ducks Aythya nyroca. On a nearby reservoir about a thousand Shovelers  Anas clypeata are enjoying the food and on another reservoir there are dozens of Mallards  Anas platyrhynchos.

 

On the banks of the fishponds we saw ten Shelducks  Tadorna tadorna, four Pintails  Anas acuta and Gadwalls  Anas strepera (thanks to David Porat). There are also large numbers of Redshanks Tringa totanus, Spotted Redshanks  Tringa erythropus and a few Wood Sandpipers  Tringa glareola, Marsh  Sandpipers  Tringa stagnatilis and Greenshanks  Tringa

nebularia.

 

Among the many gulls are: thousands of Black-headed  Gulls Larus ridibundus and hundreds of Armenian Gulls Larus armenicus; also Yellow-legged  Gulls Larus micahelis, Pallass Gulls Larus ichthyaetus and even one Mediterranean  Gull Larus melanocephalus and one White-winged  Tern  Chlidonias leucopterus.

 

 

This year two young Flamingos  Phoenicopterus ruber returned to the fishponds and have been with us for over a month.

 

Among the many songbirds in the area are: the three Wagtail  species - Citrine  Motacilla citreola, Yellow Motacilla flava and Grey  Motacilla cinerea, Namaqua  Dove Oena capensis and Little Green  Bee-eater Merops orientalis. There are huge flocks of Dead Sea  Sparrows  Passer moabiticus and Indian  Silverbill Lonchura malabarica.

Pallas’s Gulls                 Yoav Perlman

 

 November 2015

Towards the end of the migration season we have all the wintering birds: ducks, waders, raptors and songbirds. Some of the species flock together to search for food and to roost at night.  By the end of the month, most of the duck species have arrived: Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca, Pochard Aythya ferina, Tufted Duck Athya fuligula. There are several indiduals: Gadwall Anas strepera, Pintail Anas acuta, and Wigeon Anas penelope as well as flocks of Shoveler Anas clypeata, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, and, of course, Teal Anas crecca.  There are also flocks of hundreds of Coot Fulica atra and dozens of Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis  that have joined the others that were here during the summer.

Of all the thousands of White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus that migrated over the valley, about 2,000 individuals remain, and, hopefully, they will also continue to Africa soon.  Hundreds of Pygmy Cormorants Phalacrocorax pygmeus have been seen in the valley and, this year as well, there are only a few hundred Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo in the whole area (to the delight of the fishermen…).

Two impressive flocks have settled at the shallow fishponds at Kfar Ruppin – about 400 Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus and Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus. They are enjoying the abundance of food left in the fresh mud at the bottom of the fishponds when the fish are removed.

An amazing sight is that of the thousands of Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus that fly northwards over the valley each night on their way to roost at the Sea of Galilee and the thousands of Black Kites Milvus migrans from the fields and fishponds at their roosting sites.

We also see several individual Marsh Harriers Circus aeruginosus, Ospreys Pandion haliaetus and Greater Spotted Eagles Aquila clanga that have remained here the whole winter.

Among the songbirds we see Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola, Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea,  Desert Finch Rhodospiza obsoleta, Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis and Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus.

Red-throated Pipit                                                   Jonathan Meyrav

September 2015:

September is the height of the autumn migration for the first species: the Storks, Buzzards, Bee-eaters, Pratincoles and Terns, as well as several surprise visitors that arrived in spite of the heat and dust at the beginning of the month.

Flocks of thousands of White Storks Ciconia ciaconia arrived in the valley every day accompanied by Black Storks Ciconia nigra, Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus and Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica.  Flocks of dozens of Bee-eaters Merops apiaster and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters Merops persicus were seen, some of them were probably summer visitors and some were migrants passing over in September.  Also seen were flocks of dozens of Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola, also probably on migration, as well as dozens of White Terns Chlidonias leucopterus.

White Wagtails Motacilla alba and Yellow Wagtails Motacilla flava have arrived in large flocks and we have seen dozens of Isabelline Wheatears Oenanthe isabellina.

Flocks of herons have been seen: Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Great Egret Ardea alba and Purple Heron Ardea purpurea.

The raptor migration has begun: there are many Ospreys Pandion haliaetus, Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus, Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus, and the very special Sooty Falcon Falco concolor which was seen in the valley, probably for the first time during the autumn migration.

 White Stork at autumn migration. Photo by Thomas Krumenacher      

 

August 2015:

This was the hottest August for many years and the hottest month this year! However, this did not seem to bother the resident birds, the summer visitors and the migrants that arrive at their favourite habitats every year. Large flocks of White Storks Ciconia ciconia  have been passing over since the beginning of the month and have been joined by Black Storks Ciconia nigra and White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus. The peak of the Stork migration along with the Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus migration take splace at the end of August and the beginning of September.

The interesting summer visiots are still in our fields: Rufous Bush Robin Cercotrichas galactotes, Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator, Greeat Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor , various Bee-eater species, Balck-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus  and Pink-backed Pelican Pelecanus rufescens. The alfalfa fields west of Kfar Ruppin are already filling up with migrating birds, especially after the harvest: Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava, Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata, Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina, Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus and Swallows Hirundo rustica.

We watched a flock of hundreds of Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni, before migrating or, possibly, already on migration from their breeding area to the north of us.

The first raptors are already migrating: Eagles, Black Kite Milvus migrans and Osprey Pandion haliaetus.

Some of the Short-toed Eagles Circaetus gallicus that were seen are summer visitors and some are migrants. 

Among the water fowl there are flocks with dozens of birds on migration: Grey Heron Ardea cinerea,  Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus and Little Stint Calidris minuta.

 

June – July 2015

In June we saw all the resident and summer species that are breeding in our area, with their fledglings, at their feeding and roosting sites.

At the edges of the fishponds, mainly between the reeds are: Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus, Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus, Moorhen Gallinula chloropus, Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides, Purple Heron Ardea purpurea and Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax. In quiet corners of the deeper water we see Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis,  Mallard Anas platyrhyncos with a row of ducklings and Coot Fulica atra that have stayed for the summer.  In the fields in the valley there are Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus, Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus, European Roller Coracias garrulus, Crested Lark Galerida cristata and Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola  that flock together to search for insects in the alfalfa fields.  Following the pivot irrigation systems are the Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis, Jackdaws Corvus monedula  and several hundred White Storks Ciconia ciconia  that have stayed to spend the summer here.

This is best time to watch the three Bee-eater species: European Bee-eater Merops apiaster, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus and Little Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis. They all breed in the valley and can now be seen in flocks with their fledglings foraging for food.  Towards the beginning of August they will start their migration southwards.

 

 

 

A Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus has been seen several times in the area but the whereabouts of the nest is unknown. The Short-toed Eagles Circaetus gallicus are nesting in the cliffs of the Gilboa Range and the Common Kestrels Falco tinnunculus are everywhere, even in the settlements and the Barn Owl nesting boxes.

A special visitor to the fishponds in the Harod Valley arrived in July – a Pink-backed Pelican Pelecanus rufescens.

From the middle of July the first species of the autumn migration began to arrive, mainly at the shallow fishponds: Armenian Gull Larus armenicus, Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica, Redshank Tringa totanus, Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus, the first White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus, a flock of 280 Little Stints Calidris minuta and a flock of Ruffs Philomachus pugnax with just one Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata. The first Osprey Pandion heliaetus also arrived in the valley.

 

May 2015:

 In May, the over-lapping of the end of the migration season and the breeding season allows us to see a wide variety of species - the last of the wintering and migrating species as well as the summer visitors and the resident species.  And, the last flocks of Storks. Pelicans and various raptors have been seen in the valley.

The first fledglings of the Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis, Palestine Sunbird Nectarinia osea and Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius have been seen in the bushes and in the fields.  Flocks of raptors – Buzzards, Harriers and Osprey - are making the most of the heat of the beginning of summer and are gliding in the blue skies. The last White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus stayed with us until the middle of May.

Many of the waterfowl will stay here for the summer: Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus, nesting at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, Squacco HeronArdeola ralloides, Little Egret Egretta garzetta and Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax in beautiful summer plumage. Several pairs of Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Coot Fulica atra, Moorhen Gallinula chloropus, Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis and Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus have found nesting sites in the dense reeds.

Groups of Bee-eaters Merops apiaster are nesting at Tel Rehov, Tirat Tzvi and Gaon Hayarden opposite Kfar Ruppin.  With them, in the marl cliffs are also White-throated Kingfishers Halcyon smyrnensis,  Pied Kingfishers Ceryle rudis, European Roller Coracias garrulous and Little Owl Athene noctua.

During the summer breeding season the kibbutz and the surrounding plantations become an excellent site for birds and birdwatchers. The variety of habitats, abundance of water and food on the kibbutz attracts many songbirds: Blackbirds Turdus merula, Spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotus xanthopygos, Palestine Sunbird Nectarinia osea, Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis, Great Tit Parus major, Rufous Bush Robin Cercotrichas galactotes, Hoopoe Upupa epops and Kestrel Falco tinnunculus.

At night the Scops Owl Otus scops and the Barn Owl Tyto alba are active.  There are also the invasive bird species such as the Common Myna Acridotheres tristis, Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri and the Jackdaw Corvus monedula that are causing a decline in some species as well as causing damage to agriculture.

This year the Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola has returned to the valley. We have been monitoring the flock since April at the fishponds in the southern part of the valley.  To our delight, they have found a suitable nesting site in a quiet, already-harvested field.  Many thanks to Avner Rinot, Tuvia Kahan and the other birdwatchers for discovering and monitoring these birds.  At the beginning of June we saw a flock hunting for food in the alfalfa fields near Kfar Ruppin.  We hope that from the twenty pairs of breeding birds there will be quite a few fledglings. We also hope that they will enjoy the abundance of food and the peace and quiet in our area, and that, next year, they will return again!

 

April 2015

April is the peak of the spring migration season, with lush vegetation and spring flowers.  Towards the end of the month we saw nests of many species, some with fledglings.

The fishponds attract an ever-changing variety of species – herons, resident birds, summer visitors and migrants.  The herons we see are; Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides, Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus and Bittern Botaurus stellaris.

There are flocks of waders in numbers that were not seen in winter (dozens and more): Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, Greenshank Tringa nebularia, Ruff Philomachus pugnax,  Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula and Little Stint Calidris minuta.  Among them are also Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia and Common Cranes Grus grus that stop over for a short rest.

Huge flocks of White Ciconia ciconia and Black Storks Ciconia nigra are seen in the sky; some of them stay overnight before continuing northwards.

 

                                             

Hundreds of Bee-eaters Merops apiaster and some pairs of Little Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus have been looking for nesting sites in the marl cliffs above the Jordan River.

The Namaqua Dove Oena capensis has become a permanent breeder in the northern part of this region.

The Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus also nest near the Jordan River, and the Roller Coracias garrulus, the Little Owl Athene noctua and the White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis are nesting in the niches in the area.

The first fledglings were seen near the end of April: Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus, Palestine Sunbird Nectarinia osea, Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis, Spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotus xanthopygos, Blackbird Turdus merula and Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus. They are mainly in the settlements, enjoying the bush as well as the local gardens.

 

 

March 2015:

The migration season is at its peak with large flocks of soaring birds during the day and songbirds in flocks everywhere.  The spring songs are heard in the fields, in the bushes and in the gardens around the houses.  Spring is here and summer is on its way! 

 

 

 Impressive flocks of soaring birds fly over the valley almost without stopping: hundreds of Cranes Grus grus pass over noisily in their orderly flight patterns, during the day and at night.  The White Storks Ciconia ciconia land in the fields for an overnight rest. At the end of the month there were 5,000 Storks in the Kfar Ruppin area.  Flocks of Buzzards, Kites, Harriers and Eagles pass over the valley without stopping. Flocks of hundreds of White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus fly over with only some of them stopping for a quick meal, to the delight of the fishermen… Dozens of Ospreys Pandion haliaetus are spread out among the fishponds in the valley.  They stop for several days to rest and feed, then continue on their way northwards.  Some less common raptors have been seen: Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus and Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos.

Some summer visitors began to arrive at the end of the month: Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus and Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni on the Gilboa Range (and we hope they will continue to nest in the quarry), Bee-eater Merops apiaster along the Jordan River, and the Great Spotted Cuckoos Clamator glandarius are already waiting to lay their eggs in the Hooded Crows’ Corvus corone corvix nests.

The courtship songs are heard all over: Spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotus xanthopygos, Blackbird Turdus merula, Palestinian Sunbird Nectarinia osea and the Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis on the kibbutz;the  Chukar Alectoris chukar, Quail Coturnnix coturnix and Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus in the fields. The Scops Owl Otus scops and the Barn Owl Tyto alba call all night long.  The Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus and the Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus have been seen in pairs in their nesting territories.

February 2015 :

February can be a confusing month here as the sun begins to warm the days between the rains.  The wild flowers are in bloom and, while the wintering birds are still with us, some of them are beginning to get ready for the great migration northwards. Some species are already showing their breeding plumage, before they migrate.  The Black Storks Ciconia nigra have shiny, metallic feathers, the Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus now have black heads, the Great Egrets Ardea alba have the long plumes on their backs and the Little Egrets Egretta garzetta have two delicate plumes on their necks.  A flock of Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus has been with us all winter, enjoying the shallow water in the fishponds of the Valley of Springs.  Now most of them have shiny, brown backs.

The first courtship calls are heard: the songs of the Spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotus xanthopygos and the Blackbird Turdus merula, the cooing of the Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur, the chirping of the Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus and the Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis and the calls of the Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus.  In the evenings, the male Scops Owls Otus scops sing duets and one of them even sings during the day at Kfar Ruppin.

All our faithful winter visitors stay until the end of February, in large flocks in their favourite areas, to the delight of the birdwatchers.

The special species that were seen during February were: Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarious, Black Vulture Aegypius monachus, Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus and Mew Gull Larus canus.

                  

 

January 2015:

 

This year January was warmer and drier than usual, so we had many more birdwatching days with pleasant weather during the peak season of the wintering birds – raptors, ducks, waders and song birds.

The fishponds are packed with water fowl: impressive flocks with hundreds of Coots Fulica atra, Mallards Anas platyrhynchos and Shovelers Anas clypeata, groups of dozens of Teals Anas crecca, Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, Great Egrets Ardea alba and Grey Herons Ardea cinerea.. Above all these birds are the thousands of Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus flying around or resting.  They crowd around to eat the food given to the fish and, in the afternoons they fly off to roost for the night at the Sea of Galilee.

There is a wide variety of ducks: hundreds of Common Pochard Aythya ferina, dozens of Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca, Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula, Northern Pintail Anas acuta, and Shelduck Tadorna tadorna. There are also about 15 White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala.

The different species of gulls that are wintering here are: hundreds of Armenian Gulls Larus armenicus and Yellow-legged Gulls Larus michahellis, dozens of Pallas’s Gulls Larus ichthyaetus, Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus and several Whiskered Terns Chlidonias hybrida.

Our partners, the fish-breeders have reported more than a thousand Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo in the area and about 450 Pygmy Cormorants Phalacrocorax pygmeus. About 350 White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus have decided to remain here for the winter and will probably stay until the spring migration. They are concentrated in the Valley of Springs because of the abundant source of food in the fishponds.  The songbirds flock together in this season, mainly the seed-eaters that gather in the areas with suitable bushes; hundreds of House Sparrows Passer domesticus, dozens of Dead Sea Sparrows Passer moabiticus, Desert Finches Rhodospiza obsoleta, Linnets Carduelis cannabina and Goldfinches Carduelis carduelis. There are flocks of hundreds of Common Starlings Sturnus vulgaris in the fields in the valley as well as hundreds of Skylarks Alauda arvensis and dozens of Eurasian Chaffinches Fringilla coelebs. There are raptors wintering in the valleys: more than 20 Greater Spotted Eagles Aquila clanga, several Imperial Eagles Aquila heliaca, Long-legged Buzzards Buteo rufinus, Common Buzzards Buteo buteo, one or two Ospreys Pandion haliaetus at every fish farm, Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus, Sparrowhawk Accipter nisus, dozens of Marsh Harriers Circus aeruginosus, Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus, White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla and the Black Vulture Aegypius monachus that was seen in the Harod Valley until the middle of January. 

The most interesting species seen were the Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarious, Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus and a pair of Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris.

Sociable Lapwing                Frank Mofat

 

December 2014:  

December surprised us this year with pleasant weather, a small amount of rain and it wasn’t cold.  So we were rewarded with many varied observations of the different species that winter here.

Among the thousands of ducks on the fishponds were Shoveler Anas clypeata,  Mallard Anas platyrhyncos, Common Pochard Aythya ferina, Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula – from tens to hundreds in each flock.  With them are also several Eurasian Wigeons Anas penelope and one or two White-headed Ducks Oxyura leucocephala. There are thousands of Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus and hundreds of Armenian Gulls Larus armenicus. There are also several hundred Pallas’s Gulls Larus ichthyaetus, one Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus and four Whiskered Terns Chlidonias hybrida.

There is a constant watch on the birds that eat fish, to prevent damage to the fish-breeding areas.  About 900 Pygmy Cormorants Phalacrocorax pygmeus were counted as well as more than 1000 Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo and 400 White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus. At the edge of the fishponds are Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus, Bittern Botaurus stellaris, Purple Heron Ardea purpurea,  and, of course, Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis, Moorhen Gallinula chloropus, White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis, Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis and Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis.

In the fields in the valley there are large flocks of with tens of Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and among them is a single Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarious. A flock with tens of Desert Finches Rhodospiza obsoleta has been seen. There are also several Citrine Wagtails Motacilla citreola and flocks of hundreds of Swallows. Hundreds of Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica come to roost in the commercial centre in the town of Bet Shean.

Several thousand Black Kites Milvus migrans are scattered around the valley in flocks of hundreds of individuals.

The raptors that have been seen are: about 10 Lesser Spotted Eagles Aquila pomarina and about 5 Greater Spotted Eagles Aquila clanga, many Marsh Harriers Circus aeruginosus as well as a

Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus, one or two Osprey Pandion haliaetus on every fish farm totalling about twenty in the valley, a few Common Buzzards Buteo buteo and Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus.

The most impressive bird seen this month was a Black Vulture Aegypius monachus that stayed in the area of the fishponds of Tel Yosef, to the delight of all the birdwatchers!

October 2014

Bonelli’s Eagle                   Thomas Krumenacker

 

 The peak migration season, during the first half of the month: Eagles and Black Kites Milvusmigrans, Cranes Grusgrusand Black Storks Ciconianigra, White Pelicans Pelecanusonocrotalus and the first ducks. During the month huge flocks of songbirds and waders were seen.

The Black Kites are already filling the fields and their roosting sites in the evenings. 

Among the raptors seen are: Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus, Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus, Hobby Falco subbuteo, MerlinFalco columbarius, Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus, Booted Eagle Hieraaetuspennatus, Bonelli’s Eagle Hieraaetusfasciatus, Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, Short-toed Eagle Circaetusgallicus, Long-legged Buzzard Buteorufinus, Steppe Buzzard Buteovulpinus.

Many waders are found in the fishponds that are being emptied for the winter:  Wood Sandpiper Tringaglareola, Redshank Tringa tetanus, Common Sandpiper Actitishypoleucos, Marsh Sandpiper Tringastagnatilis, Common Snipe Gallinagogallinago, Little Stint Calidrisminuta, Dunlin Calidrisalpina, Temminck’s Stint Calidristemminckii, Kentish Plover Charadriusalexandrines and Ringed Plover Charadriushiaticula. All these birds can be seen in flocks of dozens of individuals, stopping over on their migration. With them are also Spotted Redshank Tringaerythropus, Greenshank Tringanebularia, Curlew Sandpiper Calidrisferruginea, Northern Lapwing Vanellusvanellus and

Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarious (!)

The first gulls have already arrived: Yellow-legged GullLarusmichahelis, Lesser Black-backed Gull Larusfuscusfuscus, Slender-billed Gull Larusgeneiand Whiskered TernChlidoniashybrida.

Fishponds are filling up with ducks;There are hundreds of Northern ShovelerAnasclypeataandTeal Anascrecca, dozens of GarganeyAnasquerquedulaand several Ferruginous Duck Aythyanyroca, Common PochardAythyaferina, Northern Pintail Anasacuta, and Eurasian WigeonAnaspenelope. 

Most of the White Pelicans had left by the end of October; about 45,000 were counted in the HulaValley. Just a few hundred stopped over in our area for a short time before continuing their journey to Africa.  We hope that it will be possible to contain the conflict between these birds and the fish breeders by feeding them in the AgamonHaHula – cooperation between the fishermen and the Israel Nature & Parks Authority.

 September 2014:

September announces the end of the summer with the first peak in the migration of an impressive variety of species, some in huge flocks and some represented by a few individuals.At the beginning of September there were large flocks of White Stork Ciconiaciconia,  Black Stork Ciconianigraand Honey Buzzard Pernisapivorus.

The first flocks of ducks arrived too: Teal Anascrecca, GarganeyAnasquerquedula,  ShovelerAnasclypeata.

Groups with dozens of waders were seen: Snipe Gallinagogallinago, Little Stint Calidrisminuta, Ringed Plover Charadriushiaticula.

Dozens of Bee-eaters Meropsapiasterand Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters Meropspersicus were seen as they migrated southwards.

The songbirds with the most impressive numbers were: thousands of Barn Swallows Hirundorustica, thousands of Yellow Wagtails Motacillaflava, hundreds of Isabelline Wheatears Oenantheisabellina, Whinchats Saxicolarubetra, House Martins Delichonurbicumand Sand Martins Ripariariparia.

Some rarer species were also seen during the migration: various Warblers as well as Tree Pipit Anthustrivialis, Red-throated Pipit Anthuscervinus, Richard’s Pipit Anthusrichardi, Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicolafalcinellus, Rose-colored Starling Sternusroseusand even one Flamingo Phoenicopterusruber.

                 Richard’s Pipit                                                                Avner Rinot

The Black-winged Kite Elanuscaeruleuswas seen in the Kfar Ruppin area during the whole month.

The ringing team from England worked at Tel Saharon for three weeks and the team of volunteers led by KobyMeyrom ringed about 2000 birds from 60 different species!  The most numerous species ringed were: Willow Warbler Phylloscopustrochilus, Yellow Wagtail Motacillaflavaand Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus, as well as dozens of Warblers of different species.

 

The champion of the valley is a female Palestinian Sunbird Nectariniaoseathat was ringed at Tel Saharon 13 years ago !!

 

July- August 2014

 

The long and (relatively) comfortable summer passed with an impressive variety of observations, songbirds and water fowl.

In addition to the breeding success of the Collared PratincoleGlareolapratincolain a large colony in the area, in July we observed a flock of about 100 individuals in the Kfar Ruppin area.  For 2 weeks they remained in an alfalfa field and, in the evening, went to roost in an empty, dry fishpond.

Also in July, we saw the arrival of a flock of about 70 White Storks Ciconiaciconiaand they remainedfor the summer. They were joined by 4 Black Storks Ciconianigra(!) which is unusual as these birds are usually only seen during the winter.

There were several species of Herons here: Purple Heron Ardeapurpurea ,

Little Bittern Ixobrychusminutus, and even a few Grey Herons Ardeacinerea.

The Bee-eatersMeropsapiasterleft their breeding sites in July; the Little Green Bee-eater Meropsorientalisand the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Meropspersicushave been seen in the fields.

In August some migrating species were seen – Citrine Wagtail Motacillaciteola, Yellow Wagtail Motacillaflava, Curlew Numeniusarquata, House Martin Delichonurbica(200!), Ruff Philomachuspugnax and Little Stint Calidrisminuta(about 200).

The raptors that arrived in the middle of August were: Marsh Harriers Circus aeruginosusand the first Honey Buzzards Pernisapivorus.

     Black-winged Kite                                                  Niv Besor

May 2014:

According to the dry landscape we must be at the height of summer, but the birds’ migrating and nesting activities indicate that we are still enjoying the spring. The last migrants passed over the valley in May: storks and pelicans, raptors and songbirds.  The birds that had built their nests in the cliffs are at the height of breeding activity, and, in the settlements and fields, the courtship activity has ceased and the first fledglings have appeared.

The last flocks of White Pelican Pelecanusonocrotalus, White Stork Ciconiaciconia, RuffPhilomachuspugnax, Barn Swallow Hirundorustica, Sand Martin Ripariaripariaand Blackcap Sylvia atricapillastopped over in our area for a short rest on their way north.

The Common Bee-eaters Meropsapiaster, the Little Green Bee-eaters Meropsorientalisas well as the Rollers Coracias garrulous and Little Owls Athenenoctua have built their nests in the cliffs along the Jordan River.  This year we have not seen a large colony and the nests are spread out along the river.  The nests of the Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticusare in the tamarisk trees and, in the earthen walls between the fish ponds and the drainage canals are the nests of the White-throated KingfishersHalcyon smyrnensisand the Pied Kingfishers Cerylerudis.  In the reed beds and at the sides of the fishponds are the nests of the Coots Fulicaatra, the MoorhensGallinulachloropus, the Little Egrets Egrettagarzetta, the Squacco Herons Ardeolaralloidesand a solitary pair of Purple Herons Ardeapurpurea.  A pair of Black-winged Stilts Himantopushimantopuswas observed building a nest in a shallow fishpond.

At the end of the month the first fledglings appeared: Spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotusxanthopygos, Blackbird Turdusmerula, Palestinian Sunbird Nectariniaoseaand House Sparrow Passer domesticus, Great Grey Shrike Laniusexcubitor, Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamatorglandariusand Namaqua Dove Oenacapensis.

The calls of the Scops Owls Otusscopsare heard all over the kibbutz and the first fledglings are trying to fly.

March – April 2014

Spring is here in all its grandeur, with the wild flowers blooming in every colour on the ground and the migration overhead in the sky.  Every day and every hour the bird species change – flocks of Pelicans, Storks, Cranes, Spoonbills, Great Egrets and many songbirds stop here for a rest of a few hours or several days.

The fishponds attract a variety of species such as the herons - the resident birds as well as the summer visitors and the migrating individuals – Squacco HeronArdeolaralloides, Purple Heron Ardeapupurea, Little Heron Ixobrychusminutus and Great Bittern Botaurusstellaris.

The flocks of waders are larger than during the winter (ten or more individuals), such as Wood Sandpiper Tringaglareola, Common Greenshank Tringanebularia, Marsh Sandpiper Tringastagnatilis, Spotted Redshank Tringaerythropus, Ruff Philomachuspugnax, Black-tailed Godwit Limosalimosa, Little Ringed Plover Charadriusdubius, Common Ringed Plover Charadriushiaticula, Little Stint Calidrisminuta, Temminck’s Stint Calidristemminckii, Common Snipe Gallinagogallinago. There are also several Greater Sand Plovers Charadriusleschenaultii, Kentish Plovers Charadriusalexandrinus, Dunlins Calidrisalpinaand Curlew Sandpipers Calidrisferrugineaand someWater Rails Rallusaquaticus, Spotted Crake Porzanaporzana, Little Crake Porzanaparvaand Baillon’s Crake Porzanapusilla. (Thanks to AvnerRinot& Tuvia Kahan for the reports.)

The summer visitors have already arrived at the nesting sites: Common Cuckoo Cuculuscanorus, Rufous Bush Robin Cercotrichasgalactotes, European Roller Coraciasgarrulus, hundreds of European Bee-Eater Meropsapiaster, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Meropspersicusand a few pairs of Little Green Bee-eaterMeropsorientalis. The Namaqua Dove Oenacapensisis a permanent breeder in the area and dozens of pairs of Dead Sea Sparrows Passer moabiticushave been seen mainly along the Jordan River.

The birds that build their nests on the ground are in the fields: Black Francolin Francolinusfrancolinuswith its raucous call, Crested Lark Galeridacristatawith its sweet song, the Stone Curlew Burhinusoedicnemuswith its sharp whistles and the Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellusspinosusthat cries out all over the fields.

At the end of April we saw the first fledglings of the Great Grey Shrike Laniusexcubitor, Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamatorglandarius, Spur-winged Lapwing and Palestine Sunbird Nectariniaosea.

February 2014:

February, which is the height of our winter, already showed signs of the approaching spring and the   birds are preparing for the spring migration with changes in their appearance, behaviour, song and feeding habits.

Courtship colours are enhanced in a variety of species: the black head of the Black-headed Gull Larusridibundusand the Pallas’s Gull Larusichthyaetusandthe range of bright metallic colours that appear on the wings of the Black Stork Ciconianigraand also the Palestinian Sunbird Nectariniaosea. The legs of the male Black-winged Stilt Himantopushimantopusare noticeably red and the back is black; the legs of the Night Heron Nycticoraxnycticorax are becoming reddish and the beak of the Great Egret Ardea alba has become darker.

We have noticed that other species are eating much more: the Great Egrets are also feeding in the fields (perhaps searching for rodents?) and the Black-headed Gulls and the Coots Fulicaatraare in the fish-feeding areas enjoying the food concentrate.  The Black Storks, the Grey Herons Ardeacinerea, Egrets and Spoonbills Platalealeucorodiaare in the recently-emptied fishponds each morning to feed on the “left-overs”.

Coutship calls are heard all over the valley: in the woods and reeds are the Clamorous Reed Warblers Acrocephalusstentoreus, ZittingCisticolasCisticolajuncidis, Spectacled Bulbuls,Turtle Doves Streptopeliatutur, GrcefulPriniasPriniagracilisand the Chiffchaffs. In the fields we hear the ChukarsAlectorischukarand the Black Francolins Francolinusfrancolinus.  At night we hear the calls of the Barn Owls Tytoalbaand the Scops Owls Otusscopsthat accompany their courtship rituals.

Some migrating species have already arrived in the area: Pallid Swift Apuspallidusand Common Swift Apusapus, House Martins Delichonurbicaand Barn Swallows Hirundorustica..Turtle Doves, Great Spotted Cuckoos Clamatorglandariusand the firstShort-toed Snake-eagleCircaetusgallicus have arrived for the breeding season.

Other new arrivals in the valley: BitternBotaurusstellarisandGoldfinch Cardueliscarduelis, andthe Marbled Ducks Marmaronettaangostirostrisin the HarodValley.

January 2014     

During January, the middle of winter, there was no rain at all!  All the wintering birds are here – flocks of songbirds, many raptors, thousands of Black Kites Milvus migrans, many species of waders, ducks and herons.

The flocks of songbirds are found in the alfalfa fields and among the reed beds and tamarisk trees: thousands of Starlings Sternus vulgaris in the fields and thousands of Jackdaws Corvus monedula  that come to roost at the Jordan River. There are flocks of hundreds of individuals: Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus, Skylark Alauda arvensis, Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis, Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita  and smaller flocks with dozens of individuals: Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta, Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus, Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus,

Desert Finch Rhodospiza obsoleta, Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus.  Other birds in the fields in the valley are: Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina, Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maurus, Oriental Skylark Alauda gugula, Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus rubescens, Richards Pipit Anthus richardi, Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava, Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola, Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus, Namaqua Dove Oena capensis and Quail Coturnix coturnix.

There is full turn out of ducks this winter: hundreds of Shovelers Anas clypeata and Shelducks Tadorna tadorna (!), Ruddy Shelducks Tadorna ferruginea, Teal Anas crecca, Pintail Anas acuta,

Wigeon Anas penelope, Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina, Gadwall Anas strepera, Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca and Garganey Anas querquedula.  Most of the ducks are in the fishponds that are being filled with water so there are no fish in these ponds yet. So, the water is still and is filled with food for them.

  

The waders are found at the edges of the fishponds, with some interesting species: Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii, Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea, Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, many Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta, hundreds of Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus, flocks of Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia, some wintering White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus and our friends, the Flamingos Phoenicopterus ruber that have enjoyed the winter at Kfar Ruppin!

The skies have been filled with raptors: Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus, Sparrowhawk Accipter nisus, Marsh Harrier Circus aeroginosus, Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus, Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus, Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis, Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina, Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus, White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla, Osprey Pandion haliaetus  and the thousands of Black Kites that come to roost in the tall Eucalyptus trees.

Towards the end of the month, probably as a result of the unseasonable spring weather, the first courtship calls were heard of the Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus, the Quail and the Scops Owl Otus scops.

December 2013:

There was a huge rain storm this month bringing abnormally cold weather with it. However, this didn’t appear to disturb the birds that are wintering here.  The migrating birds had all left by the middle of December so those that are still here will remain for the rest of the winter, though we do have some surprise visitors.

The last of the White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus left by the middle of the month, the Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo arrived in impressive flocks and will winter here.

 the Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia and the Black Storks Ciconia nigra  are moving around the fishponds before finally deciding on their wintering sites.

The sites that have the most birds this month are the fishponds and reservoirs that are being emptied for the winter, so, in the shallow water, there are fish and all kinds of tasty creatures in the wet mud that attract a variety of different species: hundreds of Great Egrets Egretta alba, Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and Grey Herons Ardea cinerea, and dozens of Night Herons Nycticorax nycticorax. With them are several Little Bitterns Ixobrychus minutus, Bitterns Botaurus stellarus, Squacco Herons Ardeola ralloides and Purple Herons Ardea purpurea.  Hundreds of Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus flock together in the shallow water.

The pools of water that remain in the fishponds after the fish have been removed are ideal for different species of waders such as the flocks of dozens of Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, Kentish Plovers Charadrius alexandrinus, Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, Little Stints Calidris minuta, Redshanks Tringa totanus, Snipes Gallinago gallinago, Ruffs Philomachus pugnax, as well as hundreds of Water Pipits Anthus spinoletta.

There are also species in much smaller numbers of only several individuals: Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultia, Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea, Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii, Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa and Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus.

The wintering ducks are also here and some of them prefer the shallow water: Teal Anas crecca, Shoveler Anas clypeata, Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea, Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, Wigeon Anas penelope; and some of them are happier in the deeper water: Mallard Anas platyrhyncos, Pochard Aythya ferina, Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca, and Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina.

At the fishponds the thousands of Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus and Armenian Gulls Larus armenicus  were joined by several hundreds of Pallas’s Gulls Larus ichthyaetus and several individual Caspian Gulls Larus cachinnans, Slender-billed Gulls Larus genei and Baltic Gull Larus fuscus fuscus.

The wintering raptors that were seen were: Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, Sparrowhawk Accipter nisus, Merlin Falco columbarius, Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus, Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus, Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus  and Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus. An Osprey Pandion haliaetus or two are seen near each area of fishponds and thousands of Black Kites Milvus migrans come to roost each evening between Kfar Ruppin and Neve Eitan.

                        Greater Flamingoes     Yariv Kristal

At the end of the month we had some special visitors: six Greater Flamingoes Phoenicopterus ruber arrived at the fishponds of Kibbutz Kfar Ruppin. There were two adults and four juveniles. A flock of Little Bustards Tetrax tetrax has been seen in the alfalfa fields west of Kfar Ruppin.  They are very rare visitors!!

 November 2013:

This month was probably the hottest November in history. However, this did not disturb the millions of birds that continued their migration southwards or settled down here for the winter. The fishponds in the valley are full of water fowl, some of them in migration flocks: Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia). Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), Great Egret (Egretta alba), Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) and many waders.  Among them are also White Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) in impressive flocks. There are feeding stations for them in the Hula and Jezreel Valleys though they are less welcome in the areas of the fishponds…

Most of the water fowl species will be spending the winter here and, every few days, they move to the fishpond that is being emptied where the water is shallow and there is a lot of mud.  There are: Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria), Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) and there are also Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava), Citrine Wagtails (Motacilla citreola), Richard’s Pipit (Anthus richardi), Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens japonicus) (!) and Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta).Large flocks with hundreds of songbirds fly over the fields in the valley: White Wagtail (Motacillaalba), Chaffinch (Fringila coelebs), Skylark (Alauda arvensis), Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris), Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus) and Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis).

There are also impressive flocks of waders, including those on migration: Northern Lapwing (Vanillas), Redshank (Trina tetanus), Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) and Little Stint (Calidris minuta).

The local songbirds congregate in flocks of dozens of individuals, in preparation for the winter: Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri), Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto), Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus), House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis), Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) and Desert Finch (Rhodospiza obsoleta).


                                    

Other impressive flocks are the Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) in the fields, the Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus) and the Coot (Fulica atra) in the fishponds and the Black Kites (Milvus migrans) that gather together to roost for the night.

A large variety of raptors have been seen, some of them on migration and some that will remain here for the winter: Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus), Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Sparrowhawk (Accipter nisus), Merlin (Falco columbarius), Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga), Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) and Bonelli's Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus)

Sightings of species rare in our area (thanks to Tuvia Kahan): Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva), Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus), Dunnock (Prunella modularis), Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens), Sociable Plover (Vanellus gregarious) and a flock of more than 100 Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) !!

 

Black-winged Stilt    Oren Yehuda

 

October 2013 :

At the height of the autumn migration a ringing team from England worked with us for three weeks, at the ringing station at Tel Saharon and at other sites in the area. The experienced team,  led by Kobi Meyrom ringed more than 2000 birds from 63 different species! Among them were  809 Willow Warblers (Phylloscopus trochilus), 109 Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava) and 74 Dead Sea Sparrows (Passer moabiticus). Dozens of Warblers of different species were caught as well as a few raptors that were following the songbirds: Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus), Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) !

There were some interesting re-captures: a Palestine Sunbird (Nectarinia osea) that was ringed at Tel Saharon 9 years ago (!!), a Dead Sea Sparrow that was caught at Tel Saharon 4 years after it was ringed at Tirat Tzvi and a Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)  that had been ringed a few days before.

The site at Tel Saharon, near Kfar Ruppin, and the alfalfa fields in the area, attract thousands of songbirds during this season, so we ringed about 200 birds each day, as did Yosef Kiat and Kobi Meyrom during their ringing.

 

            Pallid Harrier             Yoav Perlman

The waves of migration change in permanent order: Willow Warbler - Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) – Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) – European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) various Buntings and Larks.

During October the fishponds are filled with thousands of water fowl. Some of them arrive in flocks of hundreds of individuals and then continue their migration after two or three days: Black Storks (Ciconia nigra), Great Egret (Egretta alba), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), Spoobill (Platalea leucorodia) as well as various species of ducks.

Many of the species that winter here have already arrived: many waders, Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), Coot (Fulica atra) and Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus).  At the end of the month the first Great Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo), Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta), Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) and Grebes arrived.

In the fields there are already thousands of Black Kites (Milvus migrans), dozens of Harriers as well as several Eagle species. Most of them will continue their migration southwards.

 

September:  2013

Suddenly, at the end of August, the blue summer skies were filled with thousands of Storks and Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea). Immediately afterwards they were followed by Honey Buzzards, Pelicans, Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo), Harriers and thousands of Black Kites (Milvus migrans). The intense summer heat is still with us and the fishponds provide water, some food and a pace to rest for the birds. The summer visitors are still here: Roller (Curacies garrulous),Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) and Barn Owl (Lanius nubicus) fledglings, and flocks of songbirds that gather together to eat and roost for the night at the end of the breeding season.

The Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus) has returned to the Bet Shean Valley, with a population of several hundreds, after the successful breeding season in the area of the Sea of Galilee.

The Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis), Little Bee-eater (Merops orientalis), Great Shrike (Lanius excubitor), Bulbul and Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) have been seen in small groups, probably pairs with young fledglings that have almost left the nests.

Towards the end of the month the songbird migration increased: different species of Warblers, Pipits and Wagtails of different subspecies, and, with them, the migration of  Black Storks (Ciconia nigra), Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia), Purple Herons (Ardea purpurea) and Great Egrets (Egretta alba).

 

May 2013:

The month of May in the valleys is as hot as in summer and full of life as in spring!  The birds are breeding energetically – song birds are everywhere, the cliff breeders in the Jordan River area and the Barn Owls (Tyto alba) in their nesting boxes.

 

About 20 pairs of Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola) are nesting in a quiet, hidden corner of the valley.  The Stone-curlews (Burhinus oedicnemus) are nesting in the fields and the thickets, and the Spur-winged Lapwings (Vanellus spinosus) nest everywhere, in the fields and at the sides of the roads.

Among the song birds, the Clamorous Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus stentoreus) and the Eurasian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) are most noticeable. Several pairs of Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) are nesting on kibbutzim in the area.

 

A few Common Coots (Fulica atra), Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus) are nesting in the fishponds. With them are also Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) and Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta).  We saw a few dozen Pygmy Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pygmeus), but we don’t know where they are nesting.

 

We had a very special guest in the fields and at the fishponds at the foot of the Gilboa Range this month – a Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis). It spent most of the time with a flock of White Storks (Ciconia ciconia).

 

ellow-billed Stork                                                        Amir Ben Dov                                 

 

  April 2013:

Our spring has been very changeable with many surprises as the weather kept changing, from “khamsin”, the hot dry winds, to cooler weather, rainy and stormy.  The thousands of migrating birds also change the local birding picture every hour…

At the beginning of the month we could still identify many wintering species: Little Crake (Porzana parva), Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana), Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula),  Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia), Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis), Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola), Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus), Little Stint (Calidris minuta) and Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii).

At the height of the migration we see the flocks of song birds: Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava),   Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana), Eastern Orphean Warbler (Sylvia crassirostris), Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca), Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) and Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis).  Thousands of Swallows and Swifts congregate above the alfalfa fields and the natural bush, hunting for insects.  Among them there are Little Swift (Apus affinis), Alpine Swift (Tachymarptis melba), Northern House-martin (Delichon urbicum) and Sand Martin (Riparia riparia).

The raptor migration is at its peak with Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina), Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga), Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus) and European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus).

The last Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) are at the fishponds stocking up for their journey northwards. 

In the fields there are also Levant Sparrowhawk (Accipter brevipes), Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus), Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus) and Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus).  The Short-toed Eagles (Circaetus gallicus) have arrived to spend the summer in the fields and on the area of the Gilboa Range.

During April the number of Black Kites (Milvus migrans) roosting in the date plantations decreased considerably – from several thousand there are now just a few hundred individuals. 

The different heron species are visible as well: Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides), Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus), Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea), Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) and Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax).

The resident nesting birds are already at their sites: the Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus spinosus) in the fields and at the side of the roads and the song-birds in every possible place – from the olive groves to window sills and even on the balconies of the guest rooms.

Those that nest in the cliffs above the Jordan River are the European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster), the White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), the Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), the European Roller (Coracias garrulous) and the Little Owl (Athene noctus).  The Black Francolin (Francolinus francolinus) has a loud call but nests quietly.  The Chukar (Alectoris chukar) and the Crested Lark (Galerida cristata) hide their nests among the bushes.

The small Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus) stands out on the tamarisk trees with its large nest.  The Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola) has been seen in the ploughed fields, probably searching for a quiet place to nest.

 

Laughing Dove nesting at the rural lodge

 

 

March 2013:

This month is the height of the migration season, marked by the disappearance of the wintering species and the daily changes in the water fowl, especially at the fishponds.

We see the migrating Storks,Pelicans and raptors in the sky almost every day.  The Cranes fly overhead day and night and their calls can be heard clearly. 

Small flocks land at the shallow fishponds and then continue their migration the following day: Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia), Black Storks (Ciconia nigra), Purple Herons (Ardea purpurea), Steppe Buzzards (Buteo vulpinus), Little Stints (Calidris minuta), Ringed Plovers (Charadrius hiaticula), Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus) and Ruffs (Philomachus pugnax).

During a tour of the valley we counted 10 Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) in the area of Kfar Ruppin and Tirat Tzvi. They were probably migrating northwards.

The courting season is in full swing and all over the area we can hear the songs of the Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur), Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthopygos), House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis) and the Palestine Sunbird (Nectarinia osea).  With them we can also hear the calls of the Hoopoe (Upupa epops), the Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus spinosus) and the Black Francolin (Francolinus francolinus).  The population of the Black Francolin has been increasing during the last few years and pairs have been seen in the Harod Valley and even at Tel Adashim, west of Afula! 

We hear the calls of the Scops Owl (Otus scops) every night and even during the day, and the screeches of the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) have been heard since the beginning of March.

                                  

 

  Black-winged Stilts                                                         Oren Yehuda

December 2012:

The autumn migration is over and all the wintering birds are here. The combination of a wet winter and pleasant sunny days results in an abundance of food and encourages the activity of raptors in the fields, the water fowl in the fishponds and the songbirds everywhere.

The variety of raptors reported during the annual count of the Israel Ornithological Center was most impressive: White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) that appears to winter here, about 20  Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo), Long-legged Buzzards (Buteo rufinus), about 100 Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus), Hen Harriers (Circus cyaneus) and Pallid Harriers (Circus macrourus), about 20 Ospreys (Pandion hakiaetus), more than 10 Greater Spotted Eagles (Aquila clanga), Sparrowhawk (Accipter nisus), Merlin (Falco columbarius) and about 30 Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus).

 

   Black Kites                   Yoav Perlman

I counted 3,000 Black Kites (Milvus migrans) on the pivot irrigation systems and in the field.

Many waders winter in our area, mainly in the fishponds: more than 1000 (!) Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), about 300 Ringed Plovers (Charadrius hiaticula), about 220 Kentish Plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus), dozens of Golden Plovers (Pluvialis apricaria), Little Stints (Calidris minuta), dozens of Dunlins (Calidris alpine) and 1 Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea).  There are also many Redshank (Tringa totanus), Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus), Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus), Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola), Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) and Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis). In addition more than 200 Ruffs (Philomachus pugnax) and more than 100 Snipes (Gallinago gallinago), Jack Snipes (Lymnocryptes minimus) and Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa), were counted.

In the fields some less common species were observed: Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens), Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris), Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava), Citrine Wagtails (Motacilla citreola), Oriental Skylark (Alauda gulgula) and Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius).

Songbird flocking is at its peak: hundreds of Dead Sea Sparrows (Passer moabiticus), about 100  Desert Finches (Rhodospiza obsoleta) and dozens of  Reed Buntings (Emberiza shoeniclus),

Thousands of Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) fly low over the fishponds hunting insects on the surface of the water. At night they roost in the reed beds near the ponds.  There are also 2 Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber), Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea), Ferruginous Duck (Aytha nyroca), more than 40 Gadwalls (Anas strepera), Pintail (Anas acuta) and Wigeon (Anas penelope).

There are some interesting gull species, in addition to the tens of thousands of Black-headed Gulls (Larus ridibundus) that fly to the Sea of Galilee every evening and the thousands of Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) that are everywhere, there are about 300 Pallas’s Gulls (Larus ichthyaetus) as well as Caspian Gulls (Larus cachinnans), Slender-billed Gulls (Larus genei) and Whiskered Terns (Chlidonias hybridus).                                  

 

November 2012:

November is a birding celebration of the wintering species, with hot weather and an abundance of food. The seed-eaters enjoy the summer’s leftovers and the insect-eating birds find plenty of food during the hot days of up to 32 degrees.

The raptors concentrate in the valley and the water fowl enjoy the fishponds that are slowly being emptied.

There are many songbirds in the alfalfa fields – flocks of Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava), Citrine Wagtails (Motacilla citreola), Skylark (Alauda arvensis), Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe), Desert Finch (Rhodospiza obsoleta), Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis), Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus).

The trees and bushes are rich with many species: Palestine Sunbird (Nectarinia osea), Indian Silverbill (Lonchuria malabarica), Reed Bunting (Emberiza shoeniclus), hundeds of Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto), Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) and Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala), Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) and Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus). Among them are species that are less common – Rose-colored Starling (Sturnus roseus), Caspian Stonechat (Saxicola maura variegata), Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra), Sociable Lapwing, Curlew (Numenius arquata), Richard’s Pipit (Anthus richardi), Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola), Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus), Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis), Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) and Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis). (With thanks to Tuvia Khan for the detailed observations.)

 

The raptors are also celebrating the abundance of food in the valley – Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca), Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga), Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Sparrowhawk (Accipter nisus), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Pallid Harrier ((Circus macrourus) and dozens of Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus) are seen all over the valley. In the evening 2200 Black Kites (Milvus migrans)  were counted as they came to roost in the date plantation!

The large fishponds are being emptied, one after the other, and many different species are attracted to the shallow water, the fresh mud and the remnants of fish. Hundreds of birds gather here: Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Great Egret (Egretta alba), Coot (Fulica atra), Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus), Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) and Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus) and 500 Black Storks (Ciconia nigra) were counted!

On the muddy edges of the fishponds are Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), Dunlin (Calidris alpina), Little Stint (Calidris minuta), Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), Redshank (Tringa totanus), Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus), Greenshank (Tringa nebularia), Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) and Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)

 

Some special species were seen: Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), Gadwall (Anas strepera), Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa), Ruff (Philomachus pugnax), Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii) and Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus).

 

The title of “Cheekiest Birds of the Month” must go to the huge flocks of thousands of Black-headed Gulls (Larus ridibundus) and the hundreds of Coots that dive for the concentrated fish food as it enters the fishponds and the birds compete with the fish to get the food before it sinks in the water.

 

October 2012:

October was hot and dry, allowing the migrating birds to make the most of the good thermals and, perhaps contributing to the concentration of migrating birds in our area, in the fields and at the fishponds.

We were able to see some of the thousands of eagles that passed over Israel, such as the Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina), Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus) and Osprey (Pandion haliaetus).  Each year some Osprey remain here                among the fishponds, as do thousands of Black Kites (Milvus migrans)  that roost in the date plantations north of Kfar Ruppin every night. Though they cause a certain amount of damage to the fruit they do draw the attention of many visitors that join our tours each evening.

The sky above the valley is filled with the southward movement of Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus), Cranes (Grus grus), the last White Storks (Ciconia ciconia), Black Storks (Ciconia nigra) and various buzzards.

Other birds stop at the fishponds to feed and rest – Great Egrets (Egretta alba),

Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea), Spoonbills,(Platalea leucorodia),  Garganey (Anas querquedula), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos),various Sandpipers, Ruffs (Philomachus pugnax) and other waders.  According to the size of the flocks, some of them with hundreds of individuals, it is clear that not all of them will remain here for the winter.

Tuvia Kahan reports on the song birds that are migrating: Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava), Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus) and Tawny Pipits (Anthus campestris) in large flocks of dozens and sometimes hundreds of individuals.

Among the visitors this years were two Flamingos (Phoenicopterus rosea) and a White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) at the fishponds and a Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) in the alfalfa fields.

We were very fortunate to have a team of bird ringers from the UK, Terry Southhall et al, who volunteered with great enthusiasm at the ringing station at Tel Saharon. They were with us for 10 days and ringed hundreds of birds of dozens of different species, also around the the fishponds and in the fields. Among them were about 150 Palestine Sunbirds (Nectarinia osea), one of them about 10 years old – almost an Israeli record, as well as a Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) that was ringed here 8 years ago.  According to our calculations, this bird must have flown at least 60,000 kms during its life!

Other interesting species that were ringed were: Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus), Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus), Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) and Black Kite.

 

September 2012:

Autumn is approaching, in spite of the very hot days……

Thousands of Black (Ciconia nigra) and White (Ciconia ciconia) Storks, European Honeybuzzards (Pernis apivorus), Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea), Black Kites (Milvus migrans), Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava) and other migrating species are noticeable in the valley and confirm  the accuracy of the migration time-table.

Towards the end of the month different species of eagles arrived. They spend the night in the valley and take off early the next morning.

This year there is a large number of Bee-eaters: big, migrating flocks of European Bee-eater

(Merops apiaster) as well as Little Green Bee-eater ((Merops orientalis) and Blue-cheeked

Bee-eater (Merops persicus) that were previously not commonly seen in the area.

The Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis) is permanently seen in the area and there are signs that it is now breeding north of the Sea of Galilee with reports of nest-building, courtship displays, and sightings of fledglings in the autumn!

Some waterfowl have arrived, probably migrating individuals, still with some summer plumage:  Northern Pintail (Anas acuta), Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula), Garganey (Anas querquedula), Common Teal (Anas crecca) and even a pair of Flamingoes (Phoenicopterus rosea).

In the evenings the sky is still filled with thousands of Black Kites coming to roost in the date plantations, and hundreds of Eurasian Jackdaws (Corvus monedula) and Pygmy Cormorants  (Phalacrocorax pygmeus) coming to roost in the vegetation along the Jordan River.   

April – May 2012

Spring is over and the green winter vegetation is beginning to turn yellow and grey. The migration is at its peak and the bird species in the fields and fishponds change frequently.

Flocks of water fowl stop to rest, to recover and to eat at the fishponds. There are Dunlin (Calidris alpina) and Little Stint (Calidris minuta), and groups of dozens of Greenshank (Tringa nebularia),  Spotted Redshank (Tringa tetanus), Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis). Among them are impressive groups of Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), Great Egret (Egretta alba), Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) Black Storks (Ciconia nigra) and Garganey (Anas querquedula).

The most noticeable songbirds that are passing through are: Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava), Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola), Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus), and Ortolan Bunting (emberiza hortulana).

 

The birds that nest in the cliffs have already occupied their territories – the Bee-eater (Merops apiaster), Little Green Bee-eater  (Merops orientalis), Roller (Coracias garrulous), White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) and Little Owl (Athene noctua). Many of them return to the sites that we know which makes it easier to observe them from a vehicle or from a safe distance.

 

At the end of  May the first fledglings appeared at the fishponds: Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canoris  ,(Spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthopygos), Blackbird (Turdus merula), Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollus) and Mallard (Anas platyrhyncos).

The Barn Owl Project (Tyto alba) (Controlling the Vole population in the fields) continues, and this year many of the nesting boxes have been occupied. Kobi Meyrom has already ringed over 2000 (!) adult and juvenile birds in the nesting boxes in the northern valleys. There are nestlings in about two-thirds of the hundreds of nesting boxes in the Bet Shean Valley. The abundance of available food (field rodents) has resulted in an increase in the number of nestlings in a nesting box – up to ten. At the end of May we saw the beginning of a second breeding season. The first fledglings are now hunting in the area around the nesting boxes every evening.

In the Bet Shean Valley there is a nesting box with an interesting pair of Barn Owls. The female was ringed (born) in Jordan and the male was ringed in Israel. They have seven nestlings. This is one of the results of the wonderful Barn Owl Project – cooperation between farmers and birders on both sides of the border!!

 

March - April 2011:

In March, at the beginning of the migration, the bird species seen changes every day. The last of

the wintering birds mingle with the passage migrants and create a dynamic mosaic of dozens of

different species. White (Ciconia ciconia) and Black (Ciconia nigra) Storks fly over at high speed,

preferring the route along Mount Gilboa. Hundreds of  White Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) and

Cranes (Grus grus) are seen in the sky above the valley, hurrying northwards on their way “home”.

Among the wildfowl are the last wintering ducks: the four species of diving ducks were seen

during March with several White-headed Ducks (Oxyura leucocephala). Shovelers (Anas

clypeata), Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and Garganey (Anas querquedula) were seen until the

middle of March, probably already migrating. Even flocks of Black Kite (Milvus migrans) spent

time here until the middle of April.

During the month of April the breeding season begins with the first Spur-winged Lapwings

(Vanellus spinosus) at the sides of the roads, and as well as other ground nesters – Stone-curlew

(Burhinus oedicnemus) and Crested Lark (Galerida cristata.

The wildfowl also find interesting places to build their nests: the Little Grebe (Tachybaptus

ruficollis) in the seasonal ponds and the Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) in the reeds at the edges

of the irrigation canals.

The species that nest in the banks along the Jordan River are: Little Owl (Athene noctua),

Bee-eater (Merops apiaster), White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), Roller (Coracias

garrulus) and Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis). Some areas have communities with dozens of Bee-

eaters, while others have a few pairs. The various herons and the Pygmy Cormorant

(Phalacrocorax pygmeus) have moved northwards for nesting,  to the Sea of Galilee.

In the wood of Tel Saharon we hear the calls of the dozens of pairs of Turtle Dove (Streptopelia

turtur), Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) and Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis).

With them are pairs of Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthopygos), Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis),

Palestine Sunbird (Nectarinia osea) and Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator). Participants on our

nature tours are enjoying the impressive nests built by a Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus(

near a Barn Owl (Tyto alba) nesting box.

In a wood near the compost area is the roosting site of the Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis), Jackdaw

(Corvus monedula) and Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus). Perhaps this will become a new breeding

site? At the end of April there were many fledglings. The most impressive were the Great

Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) fledglings. We met five of them, more than the number of there host; the Hooded Crow (Corvus corone corvix) fledglings!!

 

 February 2011

"The spring begins in the valleys” and there is an abundance of wild flowers in bloom, the wheat is ripening and the bird migration is beginning. The days are longer and the sun is warming us all and the birds.

Courtship colours and behavior are already evident! Thousands of Black-headed Gulls (Larus

ridibundus) can be seen with their black heads, the Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta) and Grey

Herons (Ardea cinerea) with their nape plumes and the Black Storks (Ciconia nigra) with their

shining plumage.

All over the kibbutz and at Tel Saharon we can hear the courtship songs of the Turtle Doves

(Streptopelia turtur), the Palestine Sunbirds (Nectarinia osea), the Bulbuls (Pycnonotus

xanthopygos) and the Blackbirds (Turdus merula). The calls of the Black Francolin (Francolinus francolinus) can be heard during the day and those of the Scops Owl (Otus scops) and the Little Owl (Athene noctua) during the night. The Barn Owls’ (Tyto alba) shrieks can be heard while they perform their courtship dances.

Hundreds of Swifts (Apus apus) have already arrived for the spring and summer and it appears

that some of the wintering individuals had left by the end of the month.

We see less Yellow-legged Gulls (Larus armenicus), Grey Herons, some waders, Avocets

(Recurvirostra avosetta) and Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia).

Most of the wintering species are in the fields and in the area of Mt. Gilboa: Citrine Wagtail

(Motacilla citreola), Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala), European Serin (Serinus serinus) and Chaffinch (Fringilla coeleb). Olso a lot of raptors: hundreds of Black Kites (Milvus migrans) come to roost in the area of Maoz Chaim, and there are Spotted Eagles (Aquila clanga), Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo), Long-legged Buzzards (Buteo rufinus), Sparrowhawks (Accipter nisus) and Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus). All are busy feeding eagerly in anticipation of their impending migration.

 

January 2011

The unusually warm weather has confused us all and also the winter plants that have hardly

sprouted. But the migrating birds are here on time. The last wintering species arrived, as usual, in December – mostly ducks, gulls, the Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) and Spoonbill (Platalea

leucorodia). David Porat observed a young Flamingo at the fishponds as well as 2 femal,

wintering Marbled Ducks (Marmaronetta angustirostris). The largest flocks of ducks are the

Shovelers (Anas clypeata), Teals (Anas crecca) and Mallards (Anas platyrhyncos). This year

there are less Ferruginous Ducks (Aythya nyroca), Pochards (Aythya ferina), Shelducks (Tadorna tadorna) and Gadwalls (Anas strepera). All these prefer the ponds that are full of water but don’t have fish in them so that they have the plankton all to themselves.

 

 

Thanks to the warm weather there is a rich and varied supply of food for the raptors. Thousands

of Black Kites (Milvus migrans) are here for the winter, gathering in impressive numbers to roost in the evenings. The harriers are flying low over the fields: Marsh Harrier (Circus aeroginosus) , Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) and Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourous). There are Spotted Eagles (Aquila clanga), Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo) and Long-legged Buzzards (Buteo rufinus) in the fields, and Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) all over the fishpond area. There are also Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus), Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) and Merlins (Falco columbarius).

There is a variety of gulls: Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus), hundreds of Yellow-legged Gull (Larus armenicus), dozens of Pallas’s Gull (Larus ichthyaetus), and a few Common Gull (Larus canus), Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans) and Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus).

Among the many waders are some special individuals: Sociable Plover (Vanellus gregarious),

White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus), Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus) and Kentish

Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus).

In the middle of the winter we watch here all the herons: The resident species -Night Heron

(Nycticorax nycticorax), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis),

and the hundreds of winter visitors – Great Egret (Egretta alba), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea),

Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) that are always in pairs, and Bittern (Botaurus stellaris), A real zoological collection!

At the ringing station at Tel Saharon the usual wintering species were ringed: Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), Clamorous Reed Warbler (Acrocephakus stentoreus), Robin (Erithacus rubicola) and Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica).

 

November 2010

The final stage of the autumn migration draws especially large flocks of birds to the area.

The songbirds are found in the irrigated fields and the water fowl are in the fishponds.

Some of them will remain here for the winter, though most will continue southwards after a

short rest.

Hundreds of Black Storks (Ciconia nigra) are enjoying the fish that have been left in the

ponds that are emptied at this time of the year. Hundreds of Coot (Fulica atra), Black-

headed Gull (Larus ridibundus), Yellow-legged Gull (Larus cachinnans armenicus), Shovelers  (Anas clypeata), Teal (Anas crecca) concentrate in the full fishponds.

Snipe (Gallinago gallinago), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Redshank (Tringa tetanus(

Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) and Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) are found in

impressive flocks (up to a hundred individuals) in the shallow water. The fishponds also

attract hundreds of Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) but they receive a noisy welcoming

from the fishermen so that they won’t land but will continue to the feeding sites at the

Agmon Hahula and along the coastal plain.

 

Huge flocks of hundreds of songbirds can be seen in the irrigated fields after the seeds

have been sown: Skylark (Alauda arvensis), Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta), Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis), Red-throated Pipit (Alauda cervinus), Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica), and Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava).

 With them are also other interesting species: Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius), Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola), Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha bimaculata), Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla),  Richard’s Pipit  (Anthus richardi) and Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus) !

The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) breeding season is in summer and this year we have some good

surprises: the high occupation rate of the nesting boxes in the fields, a record for the

number of nestlings (more than ten) and a second round of egg-laying in many nesting boxes.

This month we heard the news from birdwatchers in Europe that a Barn Owl ringed in the

valley was caught in Syria, a distance of 80 kms from where it was ringed. Fortunately the

bird was released and can continue its journeys in nature.

 

October 2010:

As the autumn migration comes to an end, almost all the wintering birds have arrived in the Beit Shean Valley. The amazing combination

of the migrating species with the flocks of birds that have already settled here for the winter creates a rich and fascinating picture.

 

 
Pelicans over fishpond In Beit Shean Valley. Picture: Rotem Glasner

 

During this season the fishponds are emptied, one after the other, as the fish are taken out to

be sold or stored for the winter. The shallow ponds now attract thousands of birds.

Some of the species congregate to roost at night, each species having its own particular site:

the Swallows in the reed beds, the Pygmy Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pygmeus) on the flood plain of the Jordan River, thousands of Black Kites (Milvus migrans) in the date plantations with the Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta) and Great Egrets (Egretta alba). The Stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus) like to rest in the shade of the date plantations while

the Black Storks (Ciconia nigra) prefer to roost on the cliffs above the Jordan River.

Flocks of hundreds of Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) spend the day searching the shallow fishponds for food then, in the evening, gather to roost in the Eucalyptus grove.

Species that migrate in impressive numbers are: Cranes (Grus grus) whose loud calls can be heard as they fly overhead, even during the night; Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) that

continually search for food and are not satisfied with the feeding stations in the north; the last flocks of White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) land in the ploughed fields and help to eradicate some of the rodents before wheat is planted in the winter.

Large flocks of hundreds of migrating birds land in the fishponds and the fields to rest and feed for a few days before continuing southwards: Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus), Teal (Anas crecca), Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus), Snipe (Gallinago gallinago), Redshank (Tringa tetanus), Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula), Ruff (Philomachus pugnax), Sand Martin (Riparia riparia), Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris), Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava), Greenfinch  (Carduelis chloris.(

There is also a varied group of birds at the large fishponds: Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea,(

Great Egret (Egretta alba), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta). The Purple Heron (Ardea

purpurea), Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) and Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) all hide in the reeds and the Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) searches for fish in the muddy ponds.

Some special birds were seen recently: the Indian Silverbill (Lonchura malabarica) and Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus) that are gathering in flocks as winter approaches and the Clamorous Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus stentoreus) that was seen in the reed beds.

 

July-August 2010

Since the end of July we have been happily observing the beginning of the autumn migration. By the end of August large flocks of Storks, Herons and Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus) had passed over the valley. The Autumn Migration Survey is taking place, in spite of the incredibly hot weather.

Every night large flocks of White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) land in the area of Kfar Ruppin, Mt. Gilboa and Tirat Tzvi. They prefer to rest on the mobile irrigation equipment, then, in the morning, they forage in the ploughed fields before taking off on their southward journey, between 08:00 and 09:00. The highest number of birds was recorded on 28/8 when 10,000 Storks landed at 3 different sites in the valley.

The annual migration survey of the Israel Ornithological Center covers the width of the valley and every flock is counted. By the end of August 150,000 Storks had been counted, as well as tens of thousands of Honey Buzzards. Among them was a Stork with an Israeli ring that stayed to rest for several days. The German team (Helmut K, and Gert D.) are experts at reading the ring numbers on the Storks.

They have identified dozens of Storks from Eastern Europe and one from France (!) that must have changed its migration route and arrived here instead of flying over Gibraltar

In the shallow fishponds we can see flocks of Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea), Teal (Anas crecca), Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus) and Little Stints (Calidris minuta). Most of them continue southwards after a day or two.

At the end of August many Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters (Merops persicus) were seen in the area. At least some of them were the result of successful breeding in the valley, as reported by David Porat.

Dozens of Pygmy Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pygmeus) returned to the area after a successful breeding season on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. One morning 50 birds were counted at Tel Saharon, near Kfar Ruppin, enjoying the silence of the reserve and the water from the spring. During the summer several dozen Collared Pratincoles (Glareola pratincola) were seen in the fields in the valley. Avner Rinot, who saw them, reported that 7 pairs had nested in the fields. And, also during the summer, a Purple Swamp Hen (Porphyrio porphyrio madagascariensis(

enjoyed a short visit in the fishponds.

 

May 2010

 

The northward bird migration is almost over and the nesting season it at its peak, with

courtship calls, the first nestlings in the nests and chicks in the fields. Impressive flocks of Storks landed in the harvested wheat fields almost every day during

the first half of the month.

We also saw some raptors: Black Kites (Milvus migrans) in the fields, Osprey (Pandion

haliaetus), in the fish ponds and a few Harriers. These were probably the last species that

like to stop over in the area for a short rest and a meal.

The birds that nest in cliffs have filled the walls above the Jordan River: dozens of Bee-

eaters (Merops apiaster) are concentrated in a number of colonies, but there are nests

spread out in the area. Alongside the Bee-eaters are Rollers (Coracias garrulous), Little

Owl (Athene noctua) and White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis). The Pied

Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) prefers to nest in separate colonies.

 

 

In the kibbutz there is an uproar with Hooded Crows (Corvus corone cornix) nesting on the

tops of the big Ficus trees, while the Hoopoe (Upupa epops) and the Scopes Owl (Otus scops) prefer the holes in the Chinaberry tree where they are joined (or evicted?) by the Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) whose numbers have increased recently. During the last two years the Rose-ringed Parakeet has done considerable damage to agriculture, mainly to the fruit of the dates palms and the seeds of the sunflower plants.

 

The Barn Owls (Tyto alba) are filling the nesting boxes, recoding a high occupation rate.

Kobi Meyrom, who is monitoring the project, reports that there are families with 8-9

nestlings. We hope that the nesting success will increase the influence on the rodent

population in the fields and help the farmers to stop using chemical pesticides.

Interesting species that were observed courting and nesting: Black Francolin (Francolinus

francolinus), Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola), Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis) and

Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus) on the flood plain of the Jordan River.

 

February 2010

All the signs show that spring already began at the end of February in the Jordan Valley.

The spring flowers are blossoming with the longer days and the birds are getting ready for

their long journey north next month. The Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea) and the Black

Storks (Ciconia nigra) are already in bright plumage. The Great Egrets’ (Egretta alba)

plumes are growing and they are beginning their courtship displays. The different species

of Gulls are showing their bright black, grey and white colors, especially the Black-headed

Gull (Larus ridibundus) and Pallas’s Gull (Larus ichthyaetus) with their black heads.

The birds' calls from the fields are also increasing: the loud calls of the Black Francolin

(Francolinus francolinus), the songs of the Spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthopygos) and the Blackbird (Turdus merula). The cooing of the Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) and the calls of the Hoopoe (Upupa epops) are heard, coming from every direction. Every evening these calls are replaced by the howls of the Jackal and the calls of the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) and the Scops Owls (Otus scops).

Pairs of birds in their summer plumage have been seen at the fishponds: Little Ringed

Plover (Charadrius dubius), Wigeon (Anas penelope), Gadwall (Anas strepera), a flock of 15 Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna), Teal (Anas crecca) and even the male Coots (Fulica atra) are grooming their shiny, high foreheads.

At the end of the month we had reports of the first flocks of thousands of Storks that are

flying north in the area of the valleys.

 

 

January 2010

Thousands of wintering birds of dozens of different species fill the fishponds and fields

 in the area. There are large groups of hundreds of individuals of Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) ,Pallas’s Gull (Larus ichthyaetus), Teal (Anas crecca) in especially large numbers this year, Redshank (Tringa tetanus), and, of course, thousands of Coot (Fulica atra), Grey Heron  (Ardea cinerea) and Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus).

The fishponds that are emptied during the winter attract many interesting species to the

shallow water: Gadwall (Anas strepera),  Wigeon (Anas penelope),  Spoonbill (Platalea

leucorodia),  Little Stint  (Calidris minuta),  Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea), Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius), Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa), Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)  and others.  

 

 

 

The Spoonbill in the picture was ringed 0n 24.05.2009 at Bolluk Lake, Tuz Lake basin,

Anatolia by the Suhenden Karauz team and was photographed near Akko, Israel in

December 2009.

In the damp fields we saw dozens of Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) and several Golden Plover  (Pluvialis apricaria). At the foot of the Gilboa Range were Long-billed Pipit (Anthus similis), Blue Rock Thrush ) Monticola solitarius), Woodlark (Lullula arborea) and Black Redstart (Phoenicuros ochruros). 

The area is filled with raptors during the winter. There are Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in all the areas with fishponds, Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga), Marsh Harrier (Circus

aeruginosus), Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus), Merlin (Falco columbarius) and hundreds of Black Kite (Milvus migrant)..

 

December 2009:

All the wintering species have been seen at the fishponds and in the fields.  There are large flocks of Black Kites (Milvus migrans), Black Storks (Ciconia nigra), Great Egrets (Egretta alba), Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta), Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea), Coots (Fulica atra), Teals (Anas crecca), Shelducks (Tadorna tadorna), Starlings (Sternus vulgaris) and various Gulls.

The raptors that winter here have arrived: Harriers, Eagles and Buzzards.

The pleasant weather in December provided excellent conditions, and the impressive amounts of rain were concentrated over several days, promising us a beautiful spring, with plenty of food for the birds.

 Among the interesting observations (by David Porat) were: a pair of Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius), Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa), Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus), Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica), Gadwall (Anas strepera) and Pallas’s Gull (Larus ichthyaetus).

 Kobi Meyrom reported on an interesting ringing session in the Kfar Ruppin area when they caught birds that had been ringed between 5-7 years ago – Spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthopygos), Blackbird (Turdus merula) and Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita).  There is one special migrating Chiffchaff that visits us every year!

Other sightings were: a Hobby (Falco subbuteo), a Roller (Coracias garrulus) near Kibbutz Gesher and a single Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) near Kfar Ruppin.

 One of the most interesting observations during the month was of a Black (Cinereous) Vulture (Aegypius monachus) that was seen in the area for 2-3 weeks and was photographed in the fields of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu in the Tel Saharon area.

 April 2009:

The species that summer in Israel are already active at the nesting sites: Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster), Rollers (Coracias garrulus), Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) and Turtle Doves (Streptopelia turtur).  They have joined the resident species that are already nesting: Bulbuls (Pycnonotus anthopygos), Blackbirds (Turdus merula), Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus spinosus), Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus), Black Francolin (Francolinus francolinus), Chukar (Alectoris chukar), Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) and others.  The courting calls fill the valley every day and change from site to site and from hour to hour……            The nocturnal species that nest here are also active: the Little Owl (Athene noctua) on the marlstone cliffs, the Scops Owls (Otus scops) singing a duet in the kibbutz and the Barn Owls (Tyto alba) in their nesting boxes in the fields.  A 24-hour webcam monitors a Barn Owl nesting box on Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi at: /http://video.tau.ac.il/General/birds/

 March 2009    

The height of the migration is during the month of March, when most of the wintering species leave: Gulls, Herons, Black Kites, Harriers, Eagles and Ducks. The most impressive flocks were of Black Storks (Ciconia nigra), Black Kites (Milvus migrans) and Cormorants (Phalocrocorax carbo) that left until the middle of March.  The other flocks that passed over the valley were of Cranes (Grus grus), Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) and dozens of Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus).  A Mangrove Heron (Butorides striatus) was seen in the fishponds.  Courting Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) and Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) have been seen and a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus) is nesting near the bridge (the most northern nest in the world for this species).

 

January 2009

A Bonelli's Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli) was seen in the area of Kfar Ruppin, probably

wintering in the area.

Other interesting winter visitors during January were: flocks of Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna), Pallas's Gull (Larus ichthyaetus) all enjoying the food and the rest in the fishponds.

Several individuals of other species were seen among the flocks: Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius), Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus), Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), Pintail (Anas acuta), Gadwall (Anas strepera), Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina), Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus), Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus).

A very impressive sight is that of the flocks of Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), about 450 birds in each flock, that move among the fishponds with shallow water.  At night they roost on the hills near the Jordan River, in the Kfar Ruppin area.

The most spectacular sight of all is at sunset when the flocks of Starling (Sternus vulgaris)

come to roost in the Ein Harod area, drawing many visitors each evening.

StarlingsGuy Barkan

December 2008

Since the middle of December we have been inundated by wintering species, mainly in the area of the fishponds. The most impressive sights are those of the flocks of birds with hundreds of individuals: Black Storks (Ciconia nigra), Great Egrets (Egretta alba), Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea) and Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus).                                                       They concentrate in the shallow water of the fishponds that are being drained.  With them are large groups of waders, including Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta) and Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus).                                                                                                                           

In the ponds that are being re-filled with water and haven't yet been stocked with fish, there are thousands of ducks, mainly Shovelers (Anas clypeata), Teal (Anas crecca), Pochard (Aythya ferina) and a few Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula).  Swimming with them are dozens of Little Grebes (Tachybaptus rufficollis) and hundreds of Coots (Fulica atra).                                                      

This season we saw huge flocks of Starlings (Sternus vulgaris) and Skylarks (Alauda arvensis).  This is a new and impressive sight in the area, especially when they take off together and fly over the fields in the valley.  Unfortunately, they cause a huge amount of damage to the sprouting wheat, alfalfa and clover fields.  Perhaps they have been unable to find sufficient food in their natural areas, due to the lack of rain recently.                                

 

November 2008                          

All the wintering species have arrived in the valley and are concentrated mainly around the fishponds which have just been emptied of fish.  So, each week we see the different species moving to "the pond of the week" which provides food to thousands of birds from dozens of species!  Of course, this is a great attraction for birdwatchers during the winter. The species with the most impressive numbers are: dozens of Pallas's Gull (Larus ichthyaetus), hundreds of Black Storks (Ciconia nigra) and thousands of Great Egrets (Egretta Alba). With them are the more common species, such as Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus), Yellow-legged Gull (Larus cachinnans), Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus), Avocets (Ricurvirostra avosetta), Ruffs (Philomachus pugnax) and others.

The fishponds that are full of water are also full of ducks: thousands of Shovelers (Anas clypeata), Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula), Pochards (Aythya ferina), Ruffs (Philomachus pugnax), Teal (Anas crecca) and, among them, also Gadwalls (Anas strepera), Pintails (Anas acuta) and Garganey (Anas querquedula) (mainly resting during migration at the beginning of November. The number of Black Kites (Milvus migrans) wintering in the Bet Shean Valley is increasing each year.  This November we counted about 2000 Black Kites and expect that a large number will be spending the winter here.   Four Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) returned to the valley this year and at least one of them is an adult. They spend their time in the reservoir with shallow water.       

The autumn migration is drawing to a close and we were privileged to see so many different species passing over the valley: eagles, pelicans, cranes, storks, spoonbills and many different song birds. Thousands of them will remain here to spend the winter near the fishponds and in the fields where they will enjoy the mild climate and the abundance of food.   The most prominent flocks seen are the Black Kites (Milvus migrans), the Great Egrets (Egretta alba) and the Black Storks (Ciconia nigra). Carsten Rhode, a visiting researcher from Germany, has been following the Black Storks and identified more than 250 ringed birds!  One of the birds was an individual that he had ringed himself, in Germany……..The thousands of Black Kites in the area cause a sensation around the fishponds and are dealing with the rodent population in the fields.  They gather to roost in the large Eucalyptus wood each evening.  During the migration we had several interesting and rare species in the area: Flamingo (Phoenicopterus rubber,  Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarious), Lesser Yellow Legs (Tringa flavipes) and a Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caerulus) which appears in the Kfar Ruppin area almost every year.  Unfortunately, this year, it stayed for just a few days before continuing on its journey.

 

September  2008

The White Storks (Ciconia ciconia), the Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus) and most of the other eagles have already flown over the valley.  This year we saw huge flocks of Black Storks (Ciconia nigra), bigger than any we have seen in previous years. Some of these Storks will probably stay in Israel for the winter, to the delight of Israeli birdwatchers as well as birdwatchers coming from abroad.

Thousands of Black Kites (Milvus migrans) have arrived to enjoy the Israeli winter. Each evening they provide a spectacular sight as they come to roost in the palm groves.

Large numbers of other species that have arrived to overwinter here are: Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Great Egret (Egretta alba), Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), Coot (Fulica atra), Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus),  Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus), and various ducks and waders.

Next month we expect to welcome the Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus),the harriers, most of the duck species, the gulls and the other birds that enjoy our mild climate. 

July & August 2008

                                        During July a family of Collared Pratincoles (Glareola pratincola) with more than 10 chicks was nesting in the area of Kfar Ruppin.  Citrine Wagtails (Motacilla citreola), a juvenile and an adult, were seen in the area of Tirat Tzvi.  Adult and juvenile Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax), were seen, indicating that there must have been nests in the area and pairs of Purple Herons (Ardea purpurea) were observed at their usual nesting sites at Gesher and Kfar Ruppin.                                                                                                                            The first signs of the autumn migration appeared with flocks of dozens of Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea) arriving during the last week of July.  Several adult Yellow-legged Gulls (Larus cachinnans) also arrived at the fishponds at the end of the month.  The Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) left their nesting sites though small flocks could be seen and heard in the area.                                                                                                                                         In August, families with fledglings of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters (Merops persicus) were seen in the Bet Shean and Jordan Valleys. They had probably been nesting in the area during the summer.  We know that Namaqua Doves (Oena capensis) nest in the area of Tirat Tzvi, and this year they were seen even further north, in the area of Gesher.  Two Ospreys (Pandion halietus) spent the whole summer at the fishponds of Tirat Tzvi and Kfar Ruppin (no nest has been discovered, yet…….).

At the beginning of August each year, the Israel Ornithological Center of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, conducts a migration survey.  The observation points are spread across the entire width of the Jezreel Valley to follow the migration of soaring birds.  By the middle of September about 200,000 White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) and about 400,000 Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus) had passed.  Black Storks (Ciconia nigra) arrived earlier than usual this year, at the beginning of August.  They generally stay in Israel for a few days, to rest and feed, though several thousand do spend the whole winter here at their usual sites.                                                                                                                              Other migratory flocks that passed over the area were: Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea), Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) and Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus).

February 2008

This is the height of spring in the Jordan Valley: the anemones and many other wild flowers are in full bloom, the birds are changing to summer plumage and we see the courtship rituals of the different species. The great spring migration is under way!

 

The Black-headed Gulls (Larus ridibundus) have had their black heads since the middle of the month, their red legs are evident and even their white wings seem brighter. The Black Storks (Ciconia nigra) with their metallic coloured feathers and red beaks and legs are about to depart on their northward journey. The White Wagtails (Motacilla alba) are sporting their black, white and grey colours, the Coots (Fulica atra) are puffing out their white frontal plates and even the Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus spinosus) appears more elegant than usual.

 

Other species announce the arrival of spring with loud calls: the Black Francolin (Francolinus francolinus) can be heard calling, we hear the "love songs" of hundreds of Turtle Doves (Streptopelia tutur) from Tel Saharon, and even the Spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthopygos), the Blackbird (Turdus merula), and the Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis) break out into song all over the valley.  At night, at Kfar Ruppin, we hear the courtship calls of the Barn Owls (Tyto alba) and the territorial duets of the Scops Owls (Otus scops). Leading the nightly choir practice from the fields and fishponds are the Jackals whose numbers have increased considerably in recent years.

April 2008:         

Impressive flocks of migrating species passed over the valley until the end of April:      White (Ciconia ciconia) and Black Storks (Ciconia nigra), Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia),      Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus), and a few Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus)..                  

The thousands of Black Kites (Milvus migrans) continued to roost in the Kfar Ruppin area until the middle of April, which is much later than in previous years.                                           

The Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) was seen on various fishponds until the beginning of May.

The nesting season is at its peak with large numbers of Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus spinosus), Stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus), Crested Lark (Galerida cristata) and others. The species that nest in cliffs have returned to their usual nesting sites: Bee-eater (Merops apiaster), Roller (Coracias garrulous), Little Owl (Athene noctua), White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) and Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis). Kibbutz Kfar Ruppin is a paradise for the species that nest in trees: Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri), Hoopoe (Upupa epops), Spectacled Bulbul (Pynonotus xanthpygos), Blackbird (Turdus merula) and Palestine Sunbird (Nectarinia osea).                                                                                             

At night we hear the calls of the Scops Owl (Otus scops) and the Barn Owls (Tyto alba).     Several pairs of Namaqua Doves (Oena capensis) have been seen at their usual places close to the Jordan River. They are probably nesting there.  There are also nesting sites, along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, of Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea) with Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta), and Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax). At two of the sites there are also dozens of Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus) nests.

A team of bird ringers from England operated the ringing station at Tel Saharon for a week. They ringed about 400 birds of 38 different species, among them Namaqua Dove,         Bee-eater, Indian Silverbill (Lonchura malabarica) and Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus). Many thanks to Kevin Hemsley and his team!!

Black & White Storks & Little Egrets                                

  December 2007

On 29 December, a Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) was identified near Kfar Ruppin,

 by Klaus Bjerre, a birdwatcher from Denmark.  We are happy to note that birdwatchers from all

 over the world, especially from Europe, are now visiting Israel.

Of course, birdwatchers from all over Israel came to see this beautiful, rare bird!

The Black-winged Kite probably came from Egypt where there is a permanent population of

 this species that does fly far afield at this time of the year. This bird arrived in our area at

 the same time and in the same place as the previous Black-winged Kite seen here four

 years ago. Could it be the same bird?

Black-winged Kite

November 2007:

The wintering birds have already arrived!  There is a huge variety of species, impressive numbers and interesting sights to see at roosting time, and at "fishing time".                       The changing seasons brought special species: Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea), migrating Cranes (Grus grus) and Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava).        With them came some interesting "finds": Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarious),         Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus), Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis) and the quartet of Flamingos that have been roaming around the valley for the past year.

The fishponds offer an exciting birdwatching experience during the winter months. There is impressive concentration of birds around the areas where they find their favourite food: Black Storks, several kinds of Herons, a large variety of Ducks and Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus) and various Gulls.  Most of them do not have a negative effect on the fishponds as they are vegetarian or eat the fish at the edges of the ponds. Unfortunately we are also visited by thousands of Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) that devour large quantities of fish and have to be chased away from the fishponds. On the other hand birdwatchers do enjoy watching their beautiful flight patterns and their amazing diving ability.

Twilight is a special time as birds come to roost at their favourite sites: thousands of Black Kites (Milvus migrans) and hundreds of Herons congregate in the date plantations. The Cormorants prefer to roost in the Eucalyptus trees at the Jordan River and the Swallows enter the industrial buildings where they can find some warmth during the night.

 

September- October 07

Most of the large flocks of migrating soaring birds had passed over the Bet Shean Valley by the middle of October, mainly the storks and the raptors: White Storks (Ciconia ciconia), Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus) and other buzzards, hawks, kites and eagles.  Some of these birds do remain here for the winter: Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), Black Kite (Milvus migrans), harriers, Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), and even a few Lesser Spotted Eagles (Aquila pomarina).  The Cranes (Grus grus) fly over during the day and night, with their raucous calls, and the Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) fly in small groups. The fishponds are filling with the wintering populations: many different waders, Great Egret (Egretta alba), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea), Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) and at least one Osprey at every fish-breeding site in the valley. Many species of migrating birds stop over in the fields of the valley: Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) and many warblers, and there were some rare sightings of Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis), Little Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis), Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola) and Black-winged Pratincole (Glareola nordmanni).During this season thousands of birds come to roost in their different habitats: the White wagtails (Motacilla alba) in the woods and groves, the Swallows (Hirundo rustica) in the reed-beds and the herons and kites in the palm plantations.  The sight of the incredible numbers of birds coming in to roost within almost 30 minutes has become quite an attraction for nature lovers!  

Each year Black Storks stop over in the Bet Shean Valley, some of them carrying colored rings.  Researchers from Europe come to Israel to observe the birds and record the data on the rings. This year 2 researchers came from Estonia and found 40 individuals with rings from different countries, including 2 birds that had been ringed in the Bet Shean Valley several years ago. News of the White Storks that nested at Tirat Tzvi: the male is alone in the nest, (but he is already used to spending the winters in Israel), and the female has taken the 2 juveniles with her to winter in Africa. We look forward to meeting them again in March!  Ringing continues at Tirat Tzvi and among the birds we have caught with our rings were: Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), Moustached Warbler (Acrocephalus melanopogon), Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica). An adult male Isabelline Shrike (Lanius isabellinus) was ringed.We are preparing for the 2008 nesting season of the Barn Owls (Tyto alba) all over the country by placing nesting boxes from the Hula Valley in the north to the Western Negev in the south, in a project supervised by Yossi Leshem and Dan Alon. Farmers have been showing increased interest in this project as they become aware of the positive results of using Barn Owls to protect their crops from rodents.  While we were ringing the Barn Owls we found 3 females up to 100km from where they had been ringed as nestlings.                                                                                                                                                                        

 

June 2007

The White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) family at Tirat Tzvi continues to surprise us. The nestlings have

survived the intense heat very well, including the five days at the end of June when the temperatures

rose above 40ºC in the shade!  To our great surprise, we saw the parents bringing wet straw to the

nest, in order to cool the nestlings…..This must be the first time that this has been observed; other

species, such as Sandgrouse (Pteroclididae) and  Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus)

usually return to their nest with wet wings.  The technique of using wet straw to cool houses was

also used by the first settlers in the Bet Shean Valley, 50 years ago……

The nest can still be seen online at:

http://www.birds.org.il/show_item.asp?itemId=3467&levelId=1468&template=208

 

We have been watching the nestlings' initial attempts at flying and we expect them to fledge

from the nest by the end of July.  In the photograph, one of them can be seen exercising its wings.

The legs are white from the droppings that have been smeared on them, to cool them, so it is no

longer possible to read the rings.

We wish them a happy winter, wherever they go, and hope that they return to their nest here

next year.

 The four young Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) have stayed in the area since the winter.

This is the first time that they have stayed for so long.  They are usually found in the shallow

fishponds in the area, enjoying the plankton that develops very quickly in the warm water.

We wonder if this could be the beginning of a flock that will remain in the area year round?

 

       Dr. Yossi Leshem

 April 2007

In April there was an impressive migration of many species over the Bet Shean Valley, including Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), Black Kites (Milvus migrans) and Black (Ciconia nigra) and White Storks (Ciconia ciconia). The nesting season is well under way for many species, such as Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus spinosus), Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) ,Stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus), Crested Lark (Galerida cristata), Roller, White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer domesticus) and Black Francolin (Francolinus francolinus).

The nocturnal raptors that are nesting in the area are Little Owl (Athene noctua) in the limestone cliffs, Scops Owl (Otus scops) whose call we hear all over the kibbutz every night, and, of course, our friends the Barn Owls (Tyto alba) that are nesting in the special nesting boxes all over the valley.

The most interesting story is that of the lonely "bachelor" White Stork at Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi.  After trying to court females in every passing flock for the past 4 years, he has finally found a mate!  They have built a nest in an old car tyre that was placed on a high pole especially for them.  We watched them during the whole process of nest construction and now they are taking turns at guarding the nest and turning the eggs.  We hope to see the nestlings soon!

Also at Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi, Lesser Kestrels (Falco naumanni) are roosting every evening.  They are probably passing on their way north.

A large flock of female Ruffs (Pholomachus pugnax) has been spending time in the area and a group of 4 Flamingos (Phoenicopterus rubber) has been moving around the shallow fishponds.

A pair of Namaqua Doves (Oena capensis) was seen at the end of the month. Are they nesting nearby?

Many thanks to the group of British ringers who manned the ringing station at Tel Saharon in April! A visit to the ringing station at Kibbutz Haon, produced a Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) with a ring from Rumania – it was probably on its way home! A House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) with one of our rings was caught at Kfar Ruppin. It was 5 years old, at least!

 

March: 2007

From the middle of March we were able to watch the many different bird species

 migrating over the Bet Shean Valley. It was possible to watch many of them during the

 day, soaring overhead: Black (Ciconia nigra) and White Storks (Ciconia ciconia), Cranes

 (Grus grus),  various Buzzards and Black Kites (Milvus migrans). Some of them stay near

 the fish ponds to rest for a short while: Herons,many species of ducks, Spoonbills

 (Platalea leucorodia) and  Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) .

Impressive flocks of Cranes fly over the valley quickly on their way north.

 The huge migration of Storks reaches a peak at the end of March and the

 few empty fields are filled each evening by the migrating flocks.  The Storks

 also like to roost on the tall Eucalyptus trees that line the roads in the Bet Shean

 Valley, which makes it easy for us to see them. And, there are still 6 Flamingos in

 the area of Kibbutz Tirat Zvi. Although the wintering species are beginning to

 leave their roosting sites, we can still see impressive numbers of Black Kites,

 Great Egrets (Egretta alba) and Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea), probably birds

 that have spent the winter further south and are just passing through the valley as they

 migrate northwards.

 

 

February 2007

 

Towards the end of February we heard the songs of the resident birds:  Spectacled Bulbul

 (Pycnonotus xanthopygos), Blackbird (Turdus merula), Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis).

  Other birds that we hear often are considered rare in other parts of the world: Black

 Francolin (Francolinus francolinus),  Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus),  and the

 Scops Owl (Otus scops).  Our friend, the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) has also been very busy

 hunting for rodents in order to feed at least three or four chicks in the nest.  They are

 extremely active during the evening hours and have settled very well in the nesting boxes that

 we built for them all over the area.

September 2006:

After a long, hot summer the days grow shorter and the autumn migration begins. 

The songbirds have already begun the long journey southwards and we have seen a

variety of Warblers, Pipits and some Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava).

Soon the huge flocks of thousands of White (Ciconia ciconia)  and Black (Ciconia nigra)

Storks will be overhead, followed by thousands of Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus) and other raptors.

May 2006:

As the spring migration is coming to an end, the nesting season is already in full swing.

Dozens of White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) will probably spend the summer here.  They are busy

feeding on insects and rodents from the alfalfa fields and, watching them arriving at their roosting sites each evening,

is an amazing sight!

Hundreds of herons are nesting in a huge colony to the west of Bet Shean,

mainly Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta) and Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax). 

They have already completed one breeding cycle and we expect the next cycle to

be in June/July.

The Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) have returned to their nesting site in the limestone

cliff near the Jordan River. There are also many other nesting sites with several pairs of

Bee-eaters in the Bet Shean Valley. Some of the nests have been made in low sand banks,

probably as they are close to a good source of food.

The main species that are nesting in the fields are: Spur-winged Lapwing

(Vanellus spinosus), Crested Lark (Galerida cristata), Black Francolin

(Francolinus francolinus) and Stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus).

A colony of dozens of pairs of Pied Kingfishers (Ceryle rudis) is developing

near Kfar Ruppin, in the bank of the river bed leading to the Jordan River.

This year, again, there has been a decrease in the number of nesting

Barn Owls (Tyto alba), as well as a decrease in the number of nestlings

in the nesting boxes.  As we noticed last year, the dynamic balance between

the Barn Owls, as a biological pest control, and their prey, the rodents, has

reached a low level. The farmers, who are partners in the regional project, are extremely satisfied!

The video camera in the water tower at Kfar Ruppin is recording the movements

of the 2 young Barn Owl nestlings and it is a delight to watch them as they grow.

More nesting boxes and an increased variety of food (song birds) will keep the Barn

Owl population stable, and we hope that the rodent population will be kept in check during the coming years.


Janury 2006

 

A Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) with a ring from Lithuania was found trapped in the nets protecting

the fishponds.  Unfortunately, we are unable to rescue and free all the birds

that are caught in these nets. However, we are pleased to note that the fishermen are

gradually beginning to use more suitable nets, that don't harm the birds as much and protect the fish more effectively.

A Barn Owl (Tyto alba) that was ringed at Ein Hanatziv in the Bet Shean Valley, was found in a neighboring country in

the north.  The information was relayed to us via a third country.  The owl had traveled at least 100 kilometers away

from us, which is more than double the distance than any other owl that has grown up in our area.

The ringing station will again be active before the spring migration, with the support of the Israel

Ornithological Center of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.

 

Kobi Marom

 

 

August 2005


During the last two days of August, which was the height of the stork migration, over
100,000 White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) flew over the Jordan Valley. 35,000 of them
spent the night in the fields of Kibbutz Kfar Ruppin and then continued their journey
southwards the following morning. The team from the Jordan Valley Birding Center
observed the amazing sight of the birds landing, then watched the storks as they drank at
the shallow fish-ponds. The huge flocks were also observed and counted by the
professional Autumn Migration Survey Team of the Society for the Protection of Nature in
Israel.
Before they left the birds managed visit to the alfalfa fields to enjoy a meal of insects and
rodents. In this way they also provide a service to the farmers in the area by significantly
reducing crop pest species. (See picture above)

 

Storks in the Jordan Valley: David Glasner

In the coming weeks we expect many more large flocks of storks and other migrating
birds that will land in the surrounding area each night and continue northwards on the
morning.
Dozens of Stone-curlews (Burhinus oedicnemus) rest during the day near the Kfar
Ruppin cemetery. These gatherings seem to be common behavior after the nesting
season. For us it is a wonderful opportunity to observe this singular desert species which
is now spreading to other areas in the country.
The raptor migration has begun with huge flocks of Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus),
the first Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), Black Kites (Milvus migrans) and Harriers.
Before the end of September, we expect to see many more migrating raptors. Thousands
of individuals, of dozens of species, will fly over the northern valleys and many will stop to
rest for one night, while others may stay for several days to rest and eat. Many raptors
spend the entire winter in Israel.


May 2005

Songbird ringing: A Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) that was ringed last August
in Nahal Saharon, near Kfar Ruppin, was caught at Ma'agan Michael at the beginning of
May. An interesting report was received from Kobi Merom, who caught a young male
Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) at Kibbutz Nir David, The bird had a ring from Germany. It
appears that the individual had been ringed in Azerbaijan (!) in September 2004, two
months previously, on its way to Israel. It was ringed by a research team that had used
German rings. Barn Owl (Tyto alba) monitoring: Kobi Marom and the ringing team are
checking all the nesting boxes that have been placed in the Bet Shean Valley and the
Jezreel Valley. About 250 nesting boxes have been set up by farmers from Tirat Tzvi, in
the south, to Megiddo in the west. The first round of checking will end at the beginning of
June. It does appear, at the moment, that there has been a decrease in the occupancy
rate in most (but not all) the sections this year, as well as a decrease in the number of
nestlings that have fledged. These statistics correspond to reports by the farmers that
there has been a significant decrease in the rodent population. It seems as though, after
two years, we are reaching the expected decrease in the cycle. We have now ringed
about 450 Barn Owls, adults and juveniles, and have caught about 30 individuals that
were ringed last year. We are waiting for the results of the research done by the biotope
students who were helping us to examine the Barn Owls' food content for their biology
project. We do expect that there will be a change in the "menu", relevant to the decrease
in the number of rodents. The Barn Owl pair that nests on the water tower at Kfar Ruppin
has produced two nestlings this year. A video camera is recording their movements
which our guests can see "live" on a screen in a room at the base of the tower. All the
Herons and the Pygmy Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pygmeus) are nesting in several
colonies around the Sea of Galilee. This is an impressive sight every year! Under the
supervision of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, they have not been allowed to
establish breeding colonies in the area of the fishponds of the Bet Shean Valley. Each
month the Pygmy Cormorant population is monitored to measure trends, movements,
habitat use and breeding success. May is the height of the breeding season for the
Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus gragarius), Stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus),
Bee-eater (Merops apiaster), Roller (Coracias garrulous), Little Owl (Athene nectua) and
many other species that we are monitoring from a safe distance, so that they are not
disturbed.

April 2005

Ringing news: We had very full ringing days during April, with an interesting variety of
species.
Two Wood Sandpipers (Tringa glareola) were ringed in the sewage treatment pools of
Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi, a wintering and migrating species.
A Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) was caught on 12 April, the very same date it had been
caught and ringed, last yearå..and in exactly the same net!! This is an excellent example
of the precise timing that can occur with an individual of a migrant.

Interesting observations: The Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) arrived in Israel during the
final days of March. During April large flocks flew over the country, and by the end of the
month we observed the courtship rituals and nest-building activities.
Tens of Lesser Kestrels (Falco naumanni) are nesting in the quarry on Mt. Gilboa and in
the area of Nahal Yitzpor. Hundreds of roosting individuals were observed during the
month at Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi - on the Fig Trees - their usual roosting site.
Huge flocks of hundreds of migrating Ortolan Buntings (Emberiza hortulana) were seen in
open fields.
On 3 April, at Ramat Sirin, north-west of the Bet Shean Valley, 3 Dotterels (Charadrius
morinellus) and a Cyprus Wheatear (Oenanthe cypriaca) were seen. These are rare
species in Israel.

February 2005

Interesting ringings: A Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) that was ringed at the
Kibbutz Haon fishponds in April 2004, was caught in Turkey about 2 weeks later.
A Sand Martin (Riparia riparia) that was ringed by Francis Argyle at the Hula in April, was
caught at the same place in the same month. This is remarkable!!!

Interesting observations: Most of the ducks, which are the last to arrive for the winter,
already left us by the end of February, though we still saw thousands of Shovelers (Anas
clypeata) and hundreds of Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula).
Migrant species are now being caught in the nets at Tel Saharon, including Reed Warbler
and Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca).
The Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarus) has arrived to nest here - they have
been seen and heard in the area since the end of January.
The stork migration has begun with flocks of tens of White (Ciconia ciconia) and Black
Storks (Ciconia nigra) passing over.
The adult Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) are already in their summer plumage, with
white cheeks and breast. They should be flying north in about two weeks time.
Tens of Pygmy Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pygmeus) have been seen recently, they are
probably looking for a place to nest..å
A single, young Flamingo (Phoenicopterus rubber) was seen at the end of February. It
landed at the Shalom Reservoir at Kfar Ruppin.

December 2004.
The month of December marked the end of the autumn migration. The migration usually
begins in July as the first species pass over the country, such as the Olivaceous Warbler
(Hippolais pallida), Orphean Warbler (Sylvia hortensis), and the first Storks. The last
species that arrive to winter here are the many species of ducks and Pallas's Gull (Larus
ichthyaetus).
Summary of the autumn ringing season: We caught about 4,000 birds, of 88 different
species, in our nets this season. Of these, 673 were birds we had ringed during previous
seasons. The ringing was carried out at 10 different sites, most of them in the area of
Kfar Ruppin. This year we had new information from the rings of Black Storks (Ciconia
nigra) and Spoonbills (Platalea leucordia). On 13.12.04, Yuval Datz caught a Cetti's
Warbler (Cettia cetti) with a Lebanese ring, at the Kibbutz Haon fishponds. Another
Cetti's Warbler, also with a Lebanese ring, was caught at the Kibbutz Haon, but we are
still waiting for verification of the exact time and site. Eran Banker caught a Chiffchaff
(Phylloscopus collybita) at Tel Saharon, which had been ringed there exactly 8 years and
18 days before. To our knowledge the European record is just above 7 years! And the
Israeli record was just above 5 years. We had caught the new record-holder in
December '97 and '99. It seems as if he does enjoy wintering in Israel every year.
Specialities that were observed in the Bet Shean Valley in December: Winter brings us
thousands of birds of hundreds of different species. Ben Dvir collected the interesting
sightings made in December: 2 Black-necked Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis), 3 Purple
Herons (Ardea purpurea), 36 Shelducks (Tadorna tadorna), 1 Ruddy Shelduck,
more than 1000 Shovelers (Anas clypeata), 2 Red-crested Pochards Netta ruffina),
2 White-headed Ducks (Oxyura leucocephala), a hybrid Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) X
Pochard (Aythya ferin), 1 White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albiulla), 2 Greater Spotted
Eagles (Aquila clanga), 50 Golden Plovers (Pluvialis apricaria), 5 Sociable Lapwings
(Vanellus gregarius) and 2 Buff-bellied Pipits (Anthus rubescens).
November 2004
At the height of the migration season, many species flew through our region. Individuals
of some of these species have chosen to stay here, to enjoy the mild winter in our region.
Stork migration: The Belgian stork researcher, Willem van den Bossche, was working in
the area during the migration season and observed 58 Black Storks (Ciconia nigra) with
rings from 8 different countries in Eastern Europe. The oldest individual had been ringed
in Latvia on 2.4. 92. Among these storks were also 6 individuals that we had ringed, one
of them 4 years ago! Some of the storks were observed more than once at different sites,
and one individual that had been seen at the fishponds of Kibbutz Nir David was
observed 4 hours later at the ponds of Kibbutz Kfar Masaryk near Acre on the coast.
In the past we have learned from Willem's observations that storks tend to concentrate in
more or less constant numbers at certain sites, though the individual members of these
"groups" do change.
Among the White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) observed was one individual from France, 3
that had been caught by Zev Labinger and Edna Gorney in January 2000 in the Neve
Eitan area, and one seen by Ben Dvir at Ma'agan Michael that had been ringed at Kfar
Ruppin 7 years ago!

Ringing news: A Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) with a German ring was caught by Kobi
Merom at Kibbutz Nir David. This was a young male from last summer. We wish him a
good winter and hope to see him again.


Individuals from different species, wearing our rings have returned to winter at Tel
Saharon: Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybila), Bluethroat , Stonechat (Saxicola
torquata),Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis).
Since the beginning of the autumn season, which began at the end of July, we have
ringed over 3,000 individuals.

Roosting sites: Hundreds of Herons, Jackdaws (Corvus monedula), and Black Kites
(Milvus migrans) have been seen at the fishponds of Sde Eliyahu. Grey Herons (Ardea
cinerea) and Great Egrets (Egretta alba) prefer to roost on the tall palm trees. They
cause a lot of damage to the fruit which the growers are unable to market. We will soon
begin a research project to find a way to prevent the dates from being damaged by the
birds.
The roosting sites of Wagtails and Swallows are being observed by Kobi and the ringing
team, giving them the opportunity to ring tens (and sometimes hundreds) each night, of
migrating species.

Interesting observations: Ben Dvir and Stephen Mann identified a single Long-toed Stint
(Calidris subminuta) at the Maoz Haim ponds. This is a
rarity in Israel, and is only the second sighting, the first one being in Eilat, thirteen years
ago. This species nests in Siberia and winters in India and South-east Asia.
A Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax) was seen by Yoav Motro in October.
Most of the duck species have already arrived at the fishponds in the Bet Shean Valley:
Teal (Anas crecca), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Shoveler (Anas cypeata), Garganey
(Anas querquedula), Pintail (Anas acuta) and diving ducks.


SEPTEMBER 2004

The ringing station: Each year at our ringing station we catch songbirds that were
ringed by us in previous years. This season we had a Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus
scirpaceous) , Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceous) and an Olivaceous
Warbler (Hippolais pallida) from the migrant population that passed through at the
beginning of the season.
At Tel Saharon, for the third year in succession a Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) returned to its
territory. As in previous years, it was caught in the net with another member of the same species,
probably while defending its territory....
Since the beginning of September the ringing station at Tel Saharon has been inundated by
Palestine Sunbirds (Nectarina osea), with 40 sunbirds ringed in one day at the beginning of
October!

Roosting sites: An amazing roosting site has formed at the fishponds of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu
and we hope it will continue through the winter. Since the end of the Herons' nesting season on
the Eucalyptus trees, hundreds of Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis), Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta)
and Jackdaws (Corvus monedula) have been arriving to roost there each evening. Since
September they have been joined by tens of Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea) and Great Egrets
(Egretta alba). By the end of September hundreds of Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) and Black
Kites (Milvus migrans) have joined the roost creating an incredible spectacle each evening at
dusk.

Ringed storks: We had a very welcome guest in September - our friend Dr. W. Van
Denbossche. This Belgian stork researcher worked here while doing his doctorate from
1993-1997. During his recent visit he discovered 56 Black Storks (Ciconia nigra) in the Bet
Shean Valley with color rings. They had been ringed in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania,
Estonia, Poland and Croatia, and one 10-year old female had been ringed in Hungary in 1996!!
Eight White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) were observed 3 of which had been ringed by us in 1999.
He also observed 5 Spoonbills (Platalea leucordia) color ringed from Hungary, Serbia and
Rumania.
Conclusion: Professionalism, patience and being at the right place (Beit Shean Valley) at the
right time (migration) can yield excellent research results.

Migration Survey: For the 12th year the autumn soaring bird migration survey is being
conducted from our center. The team is composed of local and foreign expert birders that are
doing an impressive job counting the large number of raptors and storks migrating through the
region. So far the largest numbers have been White Storks (over 100,00) and Honey Buzzards
(Pernis apivorus) with over 300,000 and still counting.

jun 2004

The spring season is over and the summer has started with very high temperatures. The nesting
season is over for most of the bird species, and the others are looking forward to another nesting
cycle.
Ringing summary: During the spring, from March to June over 5000 birds of 81 species were
ringed. We caught 736 birds that we had ringed previously from tens of different species, of
these several were re-captured after six or seven years and 2 Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus
scirpaceus) and a Clamorous Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus stentoreus) that were re-captured
after 10 years!
thirteen years ago. This species nests in Siberia and winters in India and
South-east Asia.
A Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax) was seen by Yoav Motro in October.
Most of the duck species have already arrived at the fishponds in the Bet
Shean Valley:
Teal (Anas crecca), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Shoveler (Anas cypeata),
Garganey (Anas querquedula), Pintail (Anas acuta) and diving ducks.


SEPTEMBER 2004

The ringing station: Each year at our ringing station we catch songbirds that were ringed by us
in previous years. This season we had a Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceous) , Great
Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceous) and an Olivaceous Warbler (Hippolais pallida) from
the migrant population that passed through at the beginning of the season.
At Tel Saharon, for the third year in succession a Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) returned to its
territory. As in previous years, it was caught in the net with another member of the same species,
probably while defending its territory....
Since the beginning of September the ringing station at Tel Saharon has been inundated by
Palestine Sunbirds (Nectarina osea), with 40 sunbirds ringed in one day at the beginning of
October!

Roosting sites: An amazing roosting site has formed at the fishponds of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu
and we hope it will continue through the winter. Since the end of the Herons' nesting season on
the Eucalyptus trees, hundreds of Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis), Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta)
and Jackdaws (Corvus monedula) have been arriving to roost there each evening. Since
September they have been joined by tens of Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea) and Great Egrets
(Egretta alba). By the end of September hundreds of Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) and Black
Kites (Milvus migrans) have joined the roost creating an incredible spectacle each evening at
dusk.

Ringed storks: We had a very welcome guest in September - our friend Dr. W. Van
Denbossche. This Belgian stork researcher worked here while doing his doctorate from
1993-1997. During his recent visit he discovered 56 Black Storks (Ciconia nigra) in the Bet
Shean Valley with color rings. They had been ringed in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania,
Estonia, Poland and Croatia, and one 10-year old female had been ringed in Hungary in 1996!!
Eight White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) were observed 3 of which had been ringed by us in 1999.
He also observed 5 Spoonbills (Platalea leucordia) color ringed from Hungary, Serbia and
Rumania.
Conclusion: Professionalism, patience and being at the right place (Beit Shean Valley) at the
right time (migration) can yield excellent research results.

Migration Survey: For the 12th year the autumn soaring bird migration survey is being
conducted from our center. The team is composed of local and foreign expert birders that are
doing an impressive job counting the large number of raptors and storks migrating through the
region. So far the largest numbers have been White Storks (over 100,00) and Honey Buzzards
(Pernis apivorus) with over 300,000 and still counting.

jun 2004

The spring season is over and the summer has started with very high temperatures. The nesting
season is over for most of the bird species, and the others are looking forward to another nesting
cycle.
Ringing summary: During the spring, from March to June over 5000 birds of 81 species were
ringed. We caught 736 birds that we had ringed previously from tens of different species, of
these several were re-captured after six or seven years and 2 Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus
scirpaceus) and a Clamorous Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus stentoreus) that were re-captured
after 10 years!

Squacco Herons Zev Labinger

The most birds ringed were Barn Owls (Tyto alba). As part of our study into biological pest control
using Barn Owls, over one thousand birds were ringed, fifty of which had been ringed previously!
The Barn Owls were mainly ringed from nesting boxes in the Bet Shean Valley, some of them at
other sites such as in houses and watch-towers in the area, and some of them in nesting boxes in
the Hula Valley. The last fledglings from the first nesting season are starting to fly and we hope to
see a second nesting cycle in some of the nesting boxes.
A special swallow was caught at the fishponds at Haon, possibly a cross between a House Martin
(Delichon urbica) and a Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) - "House Swallow".
In June we already saw some initial preparations for the autumn migration! Some Olivaceous
Warblers (Hippolais pallida) were caught with a high fat content.
New observations: A pair of Little Green Bee-eaters (Merops orientalis) were nesting in the cliffs
near the Jordan River in the Kfar Ruppin area. At the end of the month the parents with 2
fledglings were seen in the nesting area.
About 10 pairs of Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola) are nesting in a ploughed field west of
Kfar Ruppin. This is the first time we have found them nesting here in several decades.
In the Heron nesting colonies near Sde Eliyahu and Mesilot, the first nestlings have fledged: Night
Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis), and
Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides). In these two colonies together there are more than 500 nests.
We expect a second nesting cycle here in July.
The Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax) did not nest in the Bet Shean Valley this season. Tens of
them returned to the valley at the end of the nesting season; some of them were young, probably
from the nesting colonies at the Sea of Galilee. Their roosting site at Tel Saharon is just opposite
the new hide that we have built, to the delight of the birdwatchers!
Wintering species in summer? This month we observed individuals from species that usually only
winter here: Crane (Grus grus), White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), Grey Heron (Ardea
cinerea), Great Egret (Egretta alba), about 60 Coot (Fulica atra) and one Osprey (Pandion
haliaetus).


May 2004
The Barn Owls (Tyto alba) in the nesting boxes:
This spring has been an amazing year for Barn Owls at Beit Shean Valley with over 80%
of our nest boxes occupied. By the end of May many owlets were beginning to fledge.
The bird ringing team has been very busy trying to ring as many of them as possible,
mainly those in the nesting boxes, but also those at other nesting sites: on towers, in
barns and roofs, etc.: 680 nestlings and 53 parents were ringed (most were the females
that stayed to look after the nestlings), and 35 individuals were caught with our rings on
them from previous years. That makes a total of 768 ringings, and we haven't completed
our task yet.
The nesting boxes and sites cover the area from Tirat Tzvi in the south to Hamadiya in the north,
and from the Jordan River in the east to Kibbutz Geva in the west. A total of 170 nesting sites were
checked. This year the occupation rate is very high, and in some sections all the boxes are
occupied. There were 10 eggs in several nests and in a number of nests 9 nestlings were ringed.
The record goes to a nesting box on Kibbutz Bet Hashita where 10 nestlings were ringed.
We adopted 16 nestlings from nests that had been disturbed in Afula and Beit Shean. The
nestlings were put in different active nesting boxes and were adopted and fed by the diligent
parents. In another rescue operation, 7 nestlings were removed from a shed that was dismantled
at Kfar Ruppin and were placed in a nesting box that was put up for them on a nearby building.
The parents accepted the situation calmly and continued to feed them the very same evening.
Three nestlings were found in another nesting box, exhausted and abandoned by their parents.
They were ringed and put into nearby nesting boxes where they have settled down happily. We
will keep a constant check on them.
A Barn Owl pair has been nesting in an abandoned water tower in the center of Kibbutz Kfar
Ruppin for more than twenty years (probably different individuals). They discovered a hole in the
tower, which had been made by an artillery shell during the War of Attrition thirty years ago. A
video camera has been placed in the tower to record the movements of the pair and delight many
of our visitors. They have six nestlings, all of which have been ringed. High school biology
students working on a project have been recording all the movements of this Barn Owl pair, each
time they enter or leave, examining their pellets and recording their activities, from courtship till the
fledging.

Other observations:
A single Robin (Erithacus rubecula) that was ringed at the ponds of Kibbutz Haon (a late bird or
possible rare nester?).
Several late Ospreys (Pandion haliatus) passing over.
Purple Herons (Ardea purpurea), perhaps remaining here for the summer?
Nesting colonies: Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) are decorating walls and cliffs all over the valley,
also pairs of Rollers (Coracias garrulous), Little Owl (Athene noctua),
White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) and Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis).
There are colonies of Herons in our area, near Sde Eliyahu, with hundreds of nests of Night
Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) and Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis). In
the evening they are joined at the roosting sites by Jackdaws (Corvus monedula) and Glossy Ibis
(Plegadis falcinellus).

April 2004
Each morning large flocks of Storks take off from the fields in the valley. Many raptors have
passed through and the birds that will be nesting here in the summer have already chosen their
sites. The European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) impress us with their beautiful colors as they
fly around their colonies throughout the valley. There are two heron rookeries with hundreds of
nests in each one, near Mesilot and Sde Eliyahu. Spur-winged Plovers (Vanellus spinosus) and
Stone-curlews (Burhinus oedcnemus) are also ubiquitous nesters in the region with many nests
and chicks being observed. The Dead Sea Sparrow males (Passer moabiticus) are building huge
nests to impress the femalesåå..and us, too. In every corner of the valley we can hear the chirping
of the Spectacled Bulbuls (Pycnonotus xanthophygos), the Blackbirds (Turdus merula), the
Graceful Prinias (Prinia gracilis), the Turtle Doves (Streptopelia turtur) and many others. The
calls of the Black Francolin (Francolinus francolinus) are heard above all this, as they stand
proudly on sandy mounds and bales of hay.
On 16 April we released 3 raptors back into the wild after they had received treatment at the
Safari Park in Ramat Gan and had recuperated at Ramat Hanadiv. A Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus
gallicus) and a Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus) had been found exhausted during the
migration and were released at Ramat Hazvaim.
A Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) was released at Kfar Ruppin. The X-Ray of the Short-toed
Eagle showed that it had been shot and there were 2 lead bullets in its body. We hope that the
raptors will survive to continue their journey northwards, or, stay and nest in the area.

Releasing the Short -toed Eagle

Ringing news: A Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) that was caught at Tel Saharon on 2
April, was ringed at Izsak, Hungary, in July 2000. This bird has completed four migrations, which
translates into over 20,000 kms covered!! Another Reed Warbler that was caught in Hungary on
18 April, had been ringed by us last year on 2 April. It should be noted that these birds weigh
only about 10 grams..å
Our friends at the RSCN in Jordan caught a Reed Warbler that had been ringed at the fishponds
of Kibbutz Dafna last year.
A Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca), that had been ringed in Silute, in Lithuania, in 1996, visited
us, then continued on its way home with another 2,800 kms to go. To the best of our knowledge
this is the oldest Whitethroat to have been found through ringing returns.
 
March 2004
Until the middle of March we were still able to see Pochard (Aythya ferina), Tufted Duck (Aythya
fuligula), Great Egret (Egretta alba), and Great Black-headed Gull (Larus ichthyaetus).
Since the beginning of March we have been monitoring the Lesser Kestrels (Falco naumanni) that
have returned to nest in the Revia Quarry. More than 20 individuals have been seen courting, and
examining potential nesting sites. The Jackdaws (Corvus monedula) aggressively compete for the
suitable cracks in the rocky cliffs, and we hope that this competition will not affect the Lesser
Kestrels breeding. Each evening hundreds of Lesser Kestrels come to roost in the trees at
Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi. This phenomenon is well known and continues through June. Judging by the
number of birds and the timing, most of them are probably migrants while some may be
nonbreeding individuals.
During the second half of March many migrant species have passed through, some of them in
impressive numbers: thousands of White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) landed in the fields and roosted
in the trees at the Tel Saharon Reserve, along with migrating flocks of Spoonbills (Platalea
leucordi) and Cranes (Grus grus). Thousands of Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) were
observed, mainly on the western route, which passes over the Yizrael Valley. Early raptor
migration has included Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Lesser
Spotted Eagles, Buzzards and Harriers.
A pair of Little Green Bee Eaters (Merops orientalis) has been observed in the Kfar Ruppin area
for the last 2 weeks, near the Jordan River. This species is usually resident from the Dead Sea
and further south: are they coming to settle here? (We'd be happy to have a report on this next
monthå..) The first flocks of Bee Eaters (Merops apiaster) have already arrived. Their colonies of
tens of pairs decorate the cliffs leading down to the Jordan River.
Ringing news:
A Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) that was ringed near the "Kitan" factory in Bet Shean, in 1999,
was caught at the village of Iksal, near Nazareth. A Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia currica), a migrant
species, was caught at Tel Saharon. It had one of our rings from spring 2000.
A Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) female, that we had ringed in March 1997, was caught again at
Tel Saharon, almost seven years later! This is one of the oldest Bluethroats that has been found in
Israel.
In honor of the coming Olympic Games, a Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) which
had been ringed in Greece, was caught at the fishponds of Kibbutz Haon. Two days later,
2 more Reed Warblers were caught at Tel Saharon, within 10 minutes of each other, with
rings from Hungary and Bulgaria!! This must surely be an "Olympic record" for us!!!


Reed warbler





The ring found on the bird


February 2004

A young Bonelli's Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus) that had been caught in the nets covering the
fishponds of Tirat Tzvi, was rescued and transferred to the Rehabilitation Center at Ramat
Hanadiv. This species is limited to the Mediterranean region, and in Israel, where there are only a
few nesting pairs, the species is in danger of extinction. After a fortnight's recuperation, the
Bonelli's Eagle was fitted with a transmitter and released at Cochav Hayarden, near the Nahal
Tavor Nature Reserve. We hope that the satellite tracking will provide us with data about the bird's
daily movements and reward the effort put into its rescue and rehabilitation.
Ringing news:
* A White Wagtail (Motacilla Alba), that was ringed at the Nir David roosting site in March 2001,
was found dead two years later north of Helsinki in Finland. The flying distance is about 5,000
kms ! A White Wagtail from this roosting site has been found in Finland in the past.
* A Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) that was ringed as a young fledgling from a nest on the garage at
Kfar Ruppin last summer, was caught in the fields of Sde Eliyahu six months later. The bird was
caught as part of a project studying the ecology of the Kestrel and in particular to ascertain its
contribution to rodent control in the area.
Unfortunately, some of the ringed birds are caught in the nets, which cover the fish ponds, many
of which don't pose a threat to the fish:
* A Pied Kingfisher that was ringed in Nahal Saharon in autumn 2001 and another which was
ringed in August 2002, were found dead.
* A Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) that was ringed in March 2000 was found dead.

Observations:
* During the whole month of January a female Scaup (Aythya marila) and a female White-headed
Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) were seen at the Safa Reservoir.
* The Black-winged Kite (Elanus caerulueus) continued to enjoy itself in the alfalfa fields north of
Kfar Ruppin. Many birdwatchers from all over the country came to see this incredible bird that
has wintered for the first time in Israel.
*A large, female White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) was seen in the area of Sha'ar Hayarden
on 23 January, and was seen during the following week. This is the largest raptor in Israel (which
does not feed on carcasses).
* A national survey of waterfowl is held each year, in January, and we at Kfar Ruppin participate
by surveying our area. This year the most impressive numbers were: 2000 Shovelers (Anas
clypeata), 500 Pochard (Aythya ferina) and 200 Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula).
* At the Tirat Tzvi reservoir 25 Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) were seen.

Roosting:
* For this first time we have found up to 20 Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus) roosting in the
area of Tirat Tzvi.

October 2003
Most of the migrating birds have left us to continue their autumn migration southwards and the
wintering birds have already arrived.
Among the song birds that were caught at the ringing station were those we had ringed in previous
years:
A number of Bluethroats (Luscinia svecica) that returned to us after one, two and even four
years!
Robins (Erithacus rubecula) that returned to the same place, at Tel Saharon, after one and two
Bonelli's Eagle was fitted with a transmitter and released at Cochav Hayarden, near the Nahal
Tavor Nature Reserve. We hope that the satellite tracking will provide us with data about the bird's
daily movements and reward the effort put into its rescue and rehabilitation.
Ringing news:
* A White Wagtail (Motacilla Alba), that was ringed at the Nir David roosting site in March 2001,
was found dead two years later north of Helsinki in Finland. The flying distance is about 5,000
kms ! A White Wagtail from this roosting site has been found in Finland in the past.
* A Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) that was ringed as a young fledgling from a nest on the garage at
Kfar Ruppin last summer, was caught in the fields of Sde Eliyahu six months later. The bird was
caught as part of a project studying the ecology of the Kestrel and in particular to ascertain its
contribution to rodent control in the area.
Unfortunately, some of the ringed birds are caught in the nets, which cover the fish ponds, many
of which don't pose a threat to the fish:
* A Pied Kingfisher that was ringed in Nahal Saharon in autumn 2001 and another which was
ringed in August 2002, were found dead.
* A Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) that was ringed in March 2000 was found dead.

Observations:
* During the whole month of January a female Scaup (Aythya marila) and a female White-headed
Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) were seen at the Safa Reservoir.
* The Black-winged Kite (Elanus caerulueus) continued to enjoy itself in the alfalfa fields north of
Kfar Ruppin. Many birdwatchers from all over the country came to see this incredible bird that
has wintered for the first time in Israel.
*A large, female White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) was seen in the area of Sha'ar Hayarden
on 23 January, and was seen during the following week. This is the largest raptor in Israel (which
does not feed on carcasses).
* A national survey of waterfowl is held each year, in January, and we at Kfar Ruppin participate
by surveying our area. This year the most impressive numbers were: 2000 Shovelers (Anas
clypeata), 500 Pochard (Aythya ferina) and 200 Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula).
* At the Tirat Tzvi reservoir 25 Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) were seen.

Roosting:
* For this first time we have found up to 20 Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus) roosting in the
area of Tirat Tzvi.

October 2003
Most of the migrating birds have left us to continue their autumn migration southwards and the
wintering birds have already arrived.
Among the song birds that were caught at the ringing station were those we had ringed in previous
years:
A number of Bluethroats (Luscinia svecica) that returned to us after one, two and even four
years!
Robins (Erithacus rubecula) that returned to the same place, at Tel Saharon, after one and two
years.
A Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) that returned after two years.
Resident songbirds, including Clamorous Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus stentoreus) that we have
previously ringed have also been caught in different places in the valley, from 7 - 10 kms from
where they were ringed. One bird was caught near the Sea of Galilee, which is 30 kms away! A
Blackbird (Terdus merula) was caught at Gesher Sofrin, the same place it was ringed on 22
December, 1996!!!
The parasitic plant Loranthus acaciae at Tel Saharon is again attracting hundreds of Palestine
Sunbirds (Nectarina osea), and, as in each autumn, we have managed to ring about 200 birds!
Recently a 4-year old Palestine Sunbird was ringed. This is a truly venerable age and evidence
that the birds frequently return to the same area.
Thousands of Black Storks (Ciconia nigra) passed over during the migration and several hundred
have remained to spend the winter here. We have seen coloured plastic rings on 14 storks that
were ringed in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia. We ringed two of them, last
year and the year before. A particularly common migrant/wintering bird this year is the Black Kite
(Milvus migrans) where over 900 birds have been observed roosting near Sde Eliyahu.
This month has also been good for rarities:
A Little Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis) has been seen several times during the last month in
the area of Kfar Ruppin. This species is resident in the Arava Valley 150km to the south.
And, a Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) was seen north of Kfar Ruppin. This is the 7th
record for Israel and the first time this species has been observed in northern Israel.


September 2003
The Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba) is a familiar sight in Israel in the autumn and winter, but not
many nature lovers know that there are other migrant species of wagtail that can be seen here in
the autumn and spring, such as the Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava).
By far the greatest number of migratory birds seen in Israel are the song birds, with over 100
different species and millions of individuals in each species. In order to keep track of just a small
percentage of these birds, there are three ringing stations in Israel: in Eilat, in Jerusalem and at
Kfar Ruppin. Here, at Kfar Ruppin, the ringing station is near the Tel Saharon Nature Reserve,
and each year about 10,000 birds are ringed.
We ring birds from over 100 different species each season, most of them migratory species.
Visitors to the ringing station can watch the experienced bird ringers at work, are able to see the
birds up close and learn more about them from the knowledgeable staff.

August 2003
Now the story can be told.åååå
A male White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) attempted to build a nest on a lamp-post on one
of the settlements in the Bet Shean Valley.
The staff of the Birdwatching Center of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel at
Kfar Ruppin, followed the stork's progress in amazement during the spring
and summer as he tried attract a mate. He wasn't at all successful, even though huge
flocks of storks flew over Israel during the spring.
Our feathered friend has now departed for Africa. We hope that he will return in
the spring, accompanied by a faithful female companion.

July 2003
The spring migration has hardly ended and the next migration season seems to have already
begun! Young warblers have arrived at our ringing station, and, according to the numbers and the
fat content, they are already migrating southwards. By the end of July, more than a hundred
warblers have been ringed, mainly at the Tel Saharon Ringing Station.
A Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) was seen in the ringing area in July which is very unusual as
these birds are generally not found in Israel during the summer, but rather during the migration
season in October.
Recently Kobi Meyrom, the manager of the ringing station, caught two birds which had been
ringed abroad, a Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) and a Moustached Warbler
(Acrocephalus melanopogon). We now expect to see more species that have made an early start
to the autumn migration, such as the Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus).
This year has again been a "Year of the Rodents". Some alfalfa fields have been severely
damaged by the rodents, while others have been "saved" by the Barn Owls (Tyto alba) and other
birds of prey. The rate of occupancy of the Barn Owl nesting boxes has been very high. There
are 200 nesting boxes in the Bet Shean Valley and more than 120 are occupied, with an average
of 5 nestlings in each nesting box. We have managed to ring 500 birds, young and old.
This year we have seen an unusual occurrence, about 10 nesting boxes have been re-occupied
by the same pairs. We recently received interesting information about the food content of Barn
Owls. We are developing the Barn Owl population in the area in order to control the rodent
population and are helping a group of high school students with their final biology research
project. They are analyzing Barn Owl pellets in order to identify the contents of their food intake.
What a surprise it was to find a Reed Warbler's ring in one of the pellets as these birds are not
usually eaten by the Barn Owls. An additional surprise was that the bird had been ringed at the
Tel Saharon Station, in spring 2002, about 15 kms from the Barn Owl site!

June 2003
The spring migration was amazing! The skies above the Jordan Valley, the fields and our ringing
station were filled with an impressive variety of birds. Our many visitors enjoyed special treats,
such as the Osprey (Pandio haliaetus) flying overhead with a fish in its talons, searching for a
suitable place to land and eat its catch.
We spent many days observing the thousands of soaring birds: White Storks (Ciconia ciconia),
Black Storks (Ciconia nigra), Steppe Buzzards (Buteo buteo), Lesser Spotted Eagles (Aquila
pomarina) and many other raptors.
We are now at the height of the nesting season. The Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) nestlings are
already venturing out of their nests. Twenty Lesser Kestrels (Falco naumanni, a globally
endangered species) are breeding at a local rock quarry where we are working in close
cooperation with quarry managers to protect this colony. With the help of farmers in the area, we
are monitoring about 200 Barn Owl (Tyto alba) nesting boxes, most of which are full of nestlings.
So far this year we have ringed a total of 350 Barn Owls, among them were 80 adults.
On 28 May, a Robin (Erithacus rubecula), was caught in the nets at Kibbutz Haon. This species
winters in Israel, so it appears that there are rebels in the avian world, too!.åå
Overall, our spring ringing efforts payed off well with a total of 3,500 birds of
over 75 species ringed.

March 2003
Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus)

March has been a very wet month, affecting both migrating birds and local breeders. More than
1,500 Cranes (Grus grus) halted their migration and stayed near Kfar Ruppin for over a week,
feeding in an alfalfa field. As the flock thinned, we found a beautiful, rare migrant, a Demoiselle
Crane (Anthropoides virgo) amongst them. As the migration the migration northwards continues,
observers report the movement of tens of thousands of White Storks (Ciconia ciconia), thousands
of Black Storks (Ciconia nigra), Steppe Buzzards (Buteo buteo vulpinus), Lesser-spotted Eagles
(Aquila pomarina), a few Steppe Eagles (Aquila nipalensis) and Booted Eagles (Hieraaetus
pennatus). About
6 - 7 Ospreys (Panadion haliatus) are seen daily in migration while some stop over in the area.
Three Ruddy Shelducks (Tadorna ferruginea) have been seen as well as small flocks of common
duck species. Waders move through the Jordan Valley in smaller numbers during the spring, but
nice flocks of Ruff (Philomachus pugnax), Redshank (Tringa totanus), Spotted Redshank (Tringa
erythropus), and Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius) have been seen. Lesser Kestrels (Falco
naumanni) are mating and have begun nesting on the cliffs of the Revia Quarry at Mt. Gilboa. The
progress is being monitored by our staff.
 
Pygmy Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pygmeus) have been trying to breed sporadically along the
Jordan River, but are being harassed by local fishermen with the consent of the Nature and Parks
Authority, to prevent their breeding within the Beit Shean Valley. This policy includes other
fish-eating birds and is impacting species such as Black-crowned Night Herons (Nycticorax
nycticorax), Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta) and Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis) that are attempting to
build nests at several locations, but numbers are very low. We are currently working to change
this policy and develop a more cooperative strategy that will benefit all sides.
Songbirds observed recently include: Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava),
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca), Olivaceous
Warbler (Hippolais pallida), Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), and a few Savi's Warblers
(Locustella luscinioides). Spanish Sparrows (Passer hispaniolensis) and Dead Sea Sparrows
(Passer moabiticus) already have young in their nests. Tens of Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
pairs are
breeding in the nesting boxes in the fields.


January 2003
The ringing team has been making the most of the winter by looking for new sites which have
unique species for ringing and birdwatching. The fishponds with their abundance of waterfowl
provide an interesting challenge for the bird-ringers to catch plovers, ducks, coots and herons. In
this area we found a Great White Egret (Egretta alba) which we had ringed, in the same place,
seven years ago.
The Kibbutz Ruppin cowshed has proved to be an ideal place for us to demonstrate bird ringing in
the winter as it is full of Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus
xanthopygos) and Dead Sea Sparrows (Passer moabiticus). In January, more than 200 Dead
Sea Sparrows were caught; 70% of them had been caught previously, between 1-4 years ago.
This month our guests at the ringing station included children from the kindergardens in the area,
about 500 children from 20 different kindergardens. The children really enjoyed seeing the birds
close up and were allowed to touch them, very gently. We think that it is extremely important that
our children should learn about birds at an early age.
During the national surveys of wintering birds, several interesting species were observed. The
survey of raptors reported a juvenile White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), 3 Imperial Eagles
(Aquila heliaca), 5 Greater Spotted Eagles (Aquila clanga), and a Merlin (Falco columbarius).
During the survey of waterfowl, about 700 Pochards (Aythya ferina) and about 300 Great
Black-headed Gulls (Larus ichthyaetus) were seen, and during the seasonal count of Cormorants
(Phalacrocorax carbo) about 800 were counted at the roosting sites.
An Andouin's Gull (Larus audouinii)) was seen in the area for the first time, and this is only the
third sighting for northern Israel!

December 2002
All the birds that winter in Israel have arrived! Thousands of ducks such as Shoveler (Anas
clypeata), Teal (Anas crecca), Pochard (Aythya ferina), and Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) have
settled on one of the reservoirs of the fish-breeding ponds, probably because there
are few fish in
the pond and so they have a lot of food. Other interesting species that are wintering here are:
Greylag Geese (Anser anser), Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), Great Black-headed Gull (Larus
ichthyaetus), Osprey (Pandion heliaetus), Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga), Imperial Eagle (Aquila
heliaca), Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) and Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus).

The ringing team is working all winter, in different areas which we visit each week. In the area
near the Jordan River we are monitoring the hundreds of songbirds that come to roost each
evening. We caught a Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pynonotus xanthopygos) which had been ringed at
Kibbutz Nir David, 15 Kms from here, 10 years ago. Among the number of Palestine Sunbirds
caught at Tel Saharon were 2 birds aged 5 years. They were the "seniors" in the group. We have
very few records of sunbirds being re-captured. Perhaps they wander around the country more
than we realize?

During the bird ringing at Kibbutz Dafna, in the north, on 8 December, a Reed Bunting (Emberiza
schoeniclus) and 49 Penduline Tits (Remiz pendulinus) were caught! This is a favourite wintering
area for the Penduline Tit, although it is much less common farther south near the birdwatching
center.

November 2002
A Pin-tailed Snipe showed well for several weeks. This bird was located at the same turf field that
one was observed over the past two years. Other nice migrants included Sociable Plover,
Isabelline Wheatear, Oriental Lark, Richard's Pipit, Citrine Wagtail, and several Isabelline Shrikes.
 
We have caught some interesting birds that were previously ringed:
Welcome back to a male Blue Throat, Luscinia svecica, from Europe, that was caught in our
nets at the Tel Saharon station, for the fifth time! Our feathered friend arrives regularly every
winter. A local resident - a male Palestine sunbird, Nectarina osea, was caught at Tel Saharon
with a ring dated 5 years ago! This is an incredible age for such a tiny bird. Hundreds of
sunbirds are attracted to this area each autumn, to the flowering acacia trees, Loranthus acaciae.

October 2002

The autumn raptor migration survey will end in the middle of October. This year we saw an
impressive number of Red-footed Falcons (Falco vespertinus). On one of the hottest days of
September, we counted a record 60,000!! To our delight, in spite of the situation in this part of the
world, volunteers from abroad took part in the survey. They agreed that it is possible to visit
Israel, even now, and enjoy the incredible birdwatching opportunities.

At the ringing station, we caught a European Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) from
Turkey, with the new Turkish ringing symbols, ringed from last spring. At the beginning of
September we witnessed an amazing coincidence - 2 European Reed Warblers were caught
together, with rings from last year stamped with consecutive numbers. A quick check showed that
they had been ringed at the same place, last yearåå..on the very same date!!
Recently, a Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) with a ring from the Czech Republic (Museum Praha)
visited us, and the day after we caught a Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) with a
ring from Finland.

 February 2008:

This is the height of spring in the Jordan Valley: the anemones and many other wild flowers are in full bloom, the birds are changing to summer plumage and we see the courtship rituals of the different species. The great spring migration is under way!

 

The Black-headed Gulls (Larus ridibundus) have had their black heads since the middle of the month, their red legs are evident and even their white wings seem brighter. The Black Storks (Ciconia nigra) with their metallic coloured feathers and red beaks and legs are about to depart on their northward journey. The White Wagtails (Motacilla alba) are sporting their black, white and grey colours, the Coots (Fulica atra) are puffing out their white frontal plates and even the Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus spinosus) appears more elegant than usual.

 

Other species announce the arrival of spring with loud calls: the Black Francolin (Francolinus francolinus) can be heard calling, we hear the "love songs" of hundreds of Turtle Doves (Streptopelia tutur) from Tel Saharon, and even the Spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthopygos), the Blackbird (Turdus merula), and the Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis) break out into song all over the valley.  At night, at Kfar Ruppin, we hear the courtship calls of the Barn Owls (Tyto alba) and the territorial duets of the Scops Owls (Otus scops). Leading the nightly choir practice from the fields and fishponds are the Jackals whose numbers have increased considerably in recent years.

 

 

 

A Mute Swan (Cynus olor) visited the fishponds of Sde Eliyahu.  Several Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) have been in the valley during the winter. Among them is one individual with drooping wings that is not at all shy of cars and people. Perhaps it was wounded, received

excellent treatment and was set free. There is no form of identification on the bird.

 

Hundreds of Pallas's Gulls (Larus ichthyaetus) were seen at the Kelach Reservoir, mainly at roosting time. One observation recorded 1,300 birds, in summer plumage (!) This is a record for this species in Israel!