Thursday, 11 February 2016

Rocky Mountain High

One of the great things about ringing in a small country like Israel is that the distance between ringing sites is not that great; Hula in the north to Eilat in the south is about 7 hours driving. Living where i do in the northern Negev Desert i get to ring in a lot of great places, Eilat one of the busiest sites in Europe (?), the amazingly atmospheric Hula, city centre ringing in Jerusalem, extreme desert ringing around the Negev and then there's Mount Hermon. The highest point in Israel at around 2000m it contains some unique species of bird. I was lucky enough to go ringing there recently. We started off with a scorpion hunt on the way to Hermon and ended up in our guest house around 12.30am. Alarms were sounding around 2.30 so with very little sleep we headed up the mountain. the first day we ringed around a small pond close to the ski slopes,
linnets were the main species of the day with some nice numbers of Syrian serin, some Black headed buntings and the elusive Upchers warbler adding to the interest. The next morning after 4 hours sleep, we were up there again, this time in one of the valleys. More great birds with 3 species of shrike, Sombre tits and the magnificent Rock nuthatch. In the 2 days we ringed somewhere around 200 birds, i managed 3 ringing ticks (sombre tit, rock nuthatch, and wren, yes i know its a common bird everywhere but it aint that common down in the desert). It was a great couple of days ringing and meeting old friends and making new ones. I'll definitely be off up there again next year!!