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Bulletin 2:01 on Rare Birds in Israel (1995 - 2002)

James P. Smith and the Israel Rarities & Distribution Committee.

The Israel Rarities and Distribution Committee met for the first time in 2002 on 6th March in Beer Sheva, courtesy of Ido Tsurim's hospitality. Voting members present were Barak Granit, Yoav Perlman, James P. Smith, Nir Sapir and Ido Tsurim. In view of the regular absence from Israel of Hadoram Shirihai and Eyal Shochat, both members are currently serving as non-voting consultants.
The second meeting for 2002 took place in Beer Sheva on 9th June. Voting members present were Ido Tsurim, Nir Sapir and Yoav Perlman.
Our criteria for rarity recording in Israel, clearly outlined in our first Bulletin 1:01, will appear as an appendix at the end of this bulletin. However, our main objective is to assess all outstanding rarity reports since the publication of the "Birds of Israel" (Shirihai 1996). In general, we will be looking at species recorded in Israel less than 25 times up to, and including the publication of the 'Birds of Israel'.
The IRDC reviewed over 40 reports at our third meeting, and 30 records at the fourth meeting, a task made easier by the fact that some members had seen a number of the reports prior to the meeting.

The following reports were considered to be fully acceptable and were placed into Category A as follows:
Red-throated Diver - Gavia stellata - 1 , adult winter, off Jaffa Port, Dan region, on 1st December 2001. (B. Granit, E. Dovrat). 4th record. Outstandingly, two unidentified Divers were seen off Jaffa only a few days later, on 6th December 2002 (B. Granit, N. Sapir).

Balearic Shearwater - Puffinus (yelkouan) mauretanicus - 1 off Jaffa Port, Dan region, on 9th January 2002. (N. Sapir, Y. Perlman, D. Gelbart and E. Banker). 2nd record and the first since 1982

Pink-backed Pelican - Pelecanus rufescens - 1, first-summer, Eilat and Aqaba from 21st April to mid-July at least. First identified on 24th April (I. Tsurim. E. Shochat. T. Ellery et. al.), fully documented in Sandgrouse 22: 02 (H. Shirihai et al). 7th record.
Lesser Frigatebird - Fregrata ariel - 1, Eilat north beach, 6th May 1999. (Leiwe van Welie et.al.). 2nd Israel record and 2nd West Palearctic record.

Red-billed Tropicbird - Phaethon aethurus - three records as follows:
-2 adults., Eilat, 17th June 2001 (B. Granit). 21st record.
-1 adult, Eilat, 20th June 2001 (B. Granit, I. Shani). 22nd record.
-1 adult, Eilat, 24th July 2001 (B. Granit). 23rd record.
An interesting trio of records, that may involve up to four different individuals.

Bewick's Swan - Cygnus columbianus - 4 ( 2 adults and 2 juveniles) Sde Ya'akov Reservoir, Jezreel Valley, from 7th January to late January 1996. ( S. Metzer, Y. Baser, B. Granit et al). About 10th record.

Red-breasted Goose - Branta ruficollis - 1, adult, Bnei Yisrael Reservoir, Golan Heights, 16th January - 14th February 2002. (N. Sapir, B. Granit and I. Tsurim et al). 7th record and the first since 1984.

Smew - Mergellus albellus- two records:
- 1 female type, Zor'a, Judean plains, 15th-17th January 2000 (R. Mizrahi, E. Banker et.al.). 20th record.
- 1 female type, Ma'agan beach, Kinneret, 18th-27th January 2002 (B. Granit). Seen also by D. Gilbart, 19th January 2002. 21st record.

Lammergeier - Gypaetus barbatus. - two records:
- 1, juvenile, Hula Valley and eastern Golan Heights, 20th November 1998, infrequently through to late January 1999. (B. Granit et al). First record since 1991, the last being in the central Judean Desert.
- 1, first or second year, Gamla, Golan Heights ,17th November 2000. (Y.Perlman et al). Last seen 24th November 2000 (N. Sapir).

Bateleur - Terathopius ecuadatus - two records as follows:
1, first year, Kfar Ruppin, Bet Shean Valley, on 23rd October 2000. (Y. Perlman et al). 6th record for Israel.
1, 1st-winter, probably male, Bet Guvrin, southern Judean plains, 6th February 2002 (A. Mayrose, O. Hatsofe et.al.). Last seen 24th February 2002 (A. Tsairi). 7th record.

Great Bustard - Otis tarda - 1 male, age uncertain, Sde Eliyahu fields, Bet She'an Valley, 2nd December 1999 (Y. Motro, S. Aviel, B. Granit et al), Photographed (B. Granit), through to at least 10th March 2000 ( J. P. Smith et al). 4th record and the first for twenty-five years.

Red-wattled Lapwing - Vanellus indicus. 1, age uncertain, Km.19 area of Eilat, on 31st October 2001. Photographed (W. Heylen et al). Present infrequently through to 25th February 2002, Photographed (J. P. Smith et al). 2nd record.

Pintail Snipe - Gallinago stenura - 1, Kfar Ruppin, Bet She'an Valley, 3rd December 1999. Photographed. (B. Granit, D. Shapiro et al). 3rd record. 1, Kfar Ruppin, on 11th - 12th October 2001. (B.Granit, T. Ellery). 4th record.

Great Black-backed Gull - Larus marinus - 1, subadult, Shifdan sewage pools, Dan region, on 24th - 26th February 1998 (E. Dovrat et. al.), photographed (E. Shochat). 6th record.

Audouin's Gull - Larus audouinii The committee received and discussed 5 descriptions of this species from Tel-Aviv area and Ma'agan-Michael. All these records were fully accepted into 'category A': 1, first-summer, 27th April 1995, Tel-Baruch, Dan region. (B. Granit). 1, juvenile, 9th and 11th August 1995. (B. Granit, E. Dovrat). 1, 2nd-winter, Shifdan, Dan region on 12th April to 12th July 1996 (E. Dovrat, B. Granit). 1, juvenile, Ma'agan Michael, 12th August 1997. (B. Granit et al). 1, first-winter, Ma'agan Michael, Carmel coast, from 7th to 25th January 2001. Photographed. (T. Ellery, Y. Perlman et al).
Later on, additional records were submitted to the committee and thereafter the committee decided that due to the recent abundance of records, descriptions of this species will not be circulated by the IRDC in the future. However, we do wish to receive in the future details on the occurrence of this uncommon species in the country, but descriptions are not a necessity anymore.
The additional records are: 1, juvenile, 19th August 1994, Shifdan, Dan region (E. Dovrat). 1, first-summer 26th August 1994 Shifdan, Dan region (E. Dovrat). 1, first-summer, 7th July 1995 Shifdan (E. Dovrat), 1, 2nd-summer, 15th and 22nd August 1998, Shifdan, Dan region (E. Dovrat), 1, juvenile, 20th and 28th August and 2nd September 1999, Shifdan, Dan region (E. Dovrat, D. Shapiro), 1, juvenile 17th October 2000 Ashdod, seen again 1st December, when it was accompanied by another juvenile bird (E. Dovrat), 1, Juvenile (different bird than the previous), 18th October 2000 Shifdan (E. Dovrat) 1, 2nd-summer 10th April 2002 Ashdod (E. Dovrat). 18th - 31st records.

Arctic Tern - Sterna paradisaea- 1, 1st-summer, Eilat, 18th July 2001 (B. Granit). 22nd individual.

Sooty / Bridled Tern - Sterna fuscata / anaethetus- 1, Ma'agan Michael, 31st December 1997 (B. Granit). 1st record for the Mediterranean coast. An outstanding record.

Saunder's Tern - Sterna saundersi - 2, adults, Eilat north beach, on 13th May 2001. (J. P. Smith, B. Granit, T. Ellery). 3rd record.

Grey Hypocolious - Hypocolious ampelinus - 1, adult male, Km.20 area of Eilat, 25th March - 10th April 1999. ( B. Granit et al). 4th record. Details of a number of other outstanding records are required by the committee, including several from the same area as the above record.

Radde's Accentor - Prunella ocularis - 1, Lotan, 22nd November 2000 (Petro Pynnonen, Suzannah Lerman). An exceptional record for the south of this rare species.

Pied Wheatear - Oenanthe pleschanka. 1, first-winter male, Kfar Ruppin, Bet She'an 19th - 20th October 1996. ( P. Troke, B. Granit, S. Brand et al). 1, first summer male, Shizzafon fields, Eilot region on 8th - 11th March 1999. Photographed ( B. Granit, R. Lindroos, T. Ellery). The committee will be reviewing all records of this species since the publication of the Birds of Israel. It remains a great rarity in Israel.

Pied Bushchat - Saxicola caprata - 1, male probably first year, Eilat 4th - 7th November 1996. Photographed (S. Brand, H. Shirihai et al). 1, female age uncertain, Kibbutz Lotan, Eilot region on 4th November 1997. (J. P. Smith et al). 1, male, Shizzafon fields, Eilot region on 18th - 22nd October 2000. Video photographed ( T. Ellery et al). 1, first-year female, Eilat 20th November 2001 through 25th March 2002. Photographed, sound recorded, trapped and ringed (J. P. Smith et al). 3rd - 6th records. Clearly well worth looking for in late autumn.

Basra Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus griseldis - four records as follows:
- 1, ringed, Nir-David, Bet She'an valley, 18th May 1997(K. Meyrom). Retrapped 20th May 1997 with A. Bear. 8th record
- 1, ringed, Sde Eliyahu, Bet She'an valley, 22th April 1998 (S. Aviel, J. Morgan). 9th record.
- 1 ringed, Mesillot, Bet She'an valley, 24th June 1998 (K. Meyrom). 10th record.
- 1 ringed, Nir David, 5th May 2002 (K. Meyrom et.al.). 11th record.
The Bet She'an valley is certainly the place for this species in late spring.

Paddyfield Warbler - Acrocephalus agricola- 1, ringed, Kfar Ruppin, 10th October 1998, photographed (J. Szabo et.al.). 5th record.

Menetries's Warbler - Sylvia mystacea - 1, adult male S. m. mystacea, Eilat 5th April 1996. ( B. Granit, S. Shenar, G. Hasson). 1, female probably adult, ringed and photographed at Kfar Ruppin on 16th October 1998 (Y. Perlman, R. Lindroos). 1, first-year female on 12th November 1998, trapped, ringed and photographed at Kfar Ruppin, Bet She'an valley. ( Y. Perlman, G. Perlman). 15th - 17th records. The Kfar Ruppin records are the first outside the southern Arava and Eilat region. The committee is awaitng to receive details of a number of records of this species from the southern Arava.

Dusky Warbler - Phylloscopus fuscatus- 1, ringed and photographed, Ma'agan Michael, 6th December 1997 (Eli Atar et.al.). 4th record. A record from 1998 becomes 5th (see IRDC's bulletin 1:2).

Hume's Leaf Warbler - Phylloscopus humei - 1, Nahal Ketura, Eilot region, 16th - 30th November 1996. ( J. P. Smith, S. B. Lerman, M. Kaplin et al). 1, Ye'elim Holiday Village, Yotvata, Eilot region, 26th March - 5th April 1998. ( J. P. Smith, J. v. d. Zee et al). 1, Ye'elim Holiday Village, 2nd January - 5th April 1999. ( J. P. Smith, G. M Kirwan et al). 1, Eilat Cemetery, 11th - 14th November 2000. Sound recorded.( K. Mullarney, J. P. Smith, S. B. Lerman et al). 1, Kibbutz Lotan, Eilot region, 17th - 19th November 2001. ( J. P. Smith). 10th - 14th records. A typical spread of records, fresh birds most likely to arrive in late autumn, some remain undetected until mid winter, or even the following spring.

Bearded Reedling - Panurus biarmicus - 9 individuals (6 males and 3 females), Hula Reserve, Hula Valley, winter 1995-1996, documentation from 23rd December 1995 (D. Shapiro, B. Granit et al). 11th record.

Steppe Grey Shrike - Lanius (meridionalis) pallidirostris - four records as follows:
- 1, 1st-winter, KM 33, 22nd November 1997 (Dr. R. Ridington, J.M.Reid). 2nd record.
- 1, 1st-winter, Yotvata, 27th November 1997 (Dr. R.Ridington, J.M.Reid). 3rd record.
- 1, Tirat Tzvi, 26th November 1998 (B. Granit, E. Dovrat et.al.). 4th record.
- 1 1st-winter, Kfar-Ruppin, 8-17th October 2000 (B. Granit et.al.), ringed and photographed 10th October 2000 (Y. Perlman). 5th record.
The committee is waiting for a few more records. This species is probably much less overlooked than in the past, and is clearly worth looking for in late autumn, but still remains a great rarity

Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Passer montanus - - 1, Hula re-flooded area, 4th December 1999 (D. Shapiro, B. Granit). 9th record.
- 1, Hula re-flooded area, Hula Valley on 17th December 2001. (B. Granit). 10th record. The committee stills requires details of a number of outstanding records.

Chestnut-shouldered Petronia - Gymornis xanthocollis. :
- 1, female, probably first-year, Kibbutz Lotan, Eilat region on 14th November 2001 (J. P. Smith) . 2nd record. The first was almost twenty years ago, in May 1982, which was also a sole observer sighting.
- 1, female, Lotan, 26th-31st March 2002 , photographed (J. P. Smith). 3rd record. Following the previous record at Lotan, this record probably, but not certainly, belongs to the same individual that overwintered in the vicinity of Lotan. Nevertheless, that bird was not relocated throughoput the winter, and this record could represent a different individual.

The following record was accepted into Category B;
White-faced Storm-petrel - Pelagodroma marinus - 1, off Ma'agan Michael, Carmel region on 9th January 2002. ( B. Granit).

The following report remains under consideration:
Audubon's Shearwater - Puffinus lherminieri - 1, Eilat north beach on 15th May 1999.

The following reports were rejected:

Great Snipe - Gallinago media- 1, Hula re-flooded area, 18th May 2002.
Sooty Gull - Larus hemprichii- 2, Eilat, 13th October 2001.
Saunder's Tern - Sterna saundersi - 1, first or second summer, Eilat north beach, 18th -19th April 1998.
Dusky Warbler - Phylloscopus fuscatus- 1, Eilat, 22nd November 2001.

Guidelines for submitting rare bird species in Israel (from IRDC's bulletin 1:01):
Ideally we would like to receive reports that include the following:
- Written documentation of date, location, observers, weather and optical aids used.
- Full written documentation of the events surrounding the observation.
Full written documentation of the identification, complete with field notes.-
- The inclusion of good quality photographsss, digital images or video images.
- The inclusion of ringing data/ bio - metrrrics where appropriate.
- The inclusion of sound recordings where appropriate.
- Supporting documentation from co-observerrrs.
- Brief documentation of the observer's preeevious experience of the species.
We realize that not every report will meet these criteria but we encourage all finders of Israel rarities to submit what ever they can to the committee. Reports from sole observers will also be considered. On the other hand, reports that mention just a few lines of a description with comments such as " we did not bother to look at it closely, because it's a common winter visitor back home" will not be considered seriously by the committee. We look forward to receiving your records and publishing our results accordingly.

We wish to receive records of species with generally less than 25 occurrences in Israel. A full list of the species that require a description being sent for circulation, can be found at the IRDC web pages, along with further information -

All observers with outstanding reports dating back to 1996 or earlier, are encouraged to submit their observations to any one of the committee members, or mail them to:
Nir Sapir
Israel Rarities & Distribution Committee
Israeli Ornithological Center
POB 58020 Kiryat Atidim
Tel Aviv 61580
E-mail: nirsa@bgumail.bgu.ac.il

We look forward to receiving your records and publishing our results accordingly.
The members of IRDC are Barak Granit, Yoav Perlman, Nir Sapir, Ido Tsurim, Eyal Shochat, and Hadoram Shirihai as a special consultant.
James P. Smith, Nir Sapir and Yoav Perlman, June 2002

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