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>> Birding reports

Shore Lark (Eremophila alpestris bicornis) nest at the upper Hermon mountain, altitude 2200
Amir Ben-dov

  
Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris bicornis
  

  
Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris bicornis
  

Though Shore Lark can be seen at the Hermon mountain (altitude 1900 +) year round And though few nesting birds can be easily found in the upper Hermon every year, I think it is still right to describe this Ssp. E.a. bicornis, as a rare resident in Israel The Hermon Shore Lark habitat as seen in the following picture is a bare low bushes scenery.

  
Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris bicornis
  

I am following the species for the last 10 years (mainly during May and June), and can advise that the number of nests is declining. From 5-7 pairs in 2006 to 3-4 pairs in 2007 to not more then 3 pairs in 2008.
In the first week of June 2008 I watched 1 nestling fed by a male, one pair of which the nest was not found, and one documented nest that did not succeed.
Reuven Inbar (1976), Zaterman (1986) Hadoram Shirihai (1996) describes the nest is an amazing architecture, usually built in the base of a cherry bush or ____ which are commonly growing in the upper Hermon Mountain. Pictures taken in 2007 from a deserted nest show the construction used.

  
Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris bicornis
  

All nests found were facing east to south east; to my personal opinion due to the wind direction which most of the time is blowing west or North West to east or South East. The female will lay 2 eggs and will breed for about 20 days. The nestlings will leave the nest in about 12-15 days.

  
Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris bicornis
  

In the past years during August and early September flock of some dozens were seen, maximum of 80 birds Ad. and first winter together at "Gvaot Hakrav" area (Amir Ben Dov 1998). But, as prev. advised such numbers are not seen anymore.

As the bird is a ground nesting Sp. and as the pressure on the upper Hermon by the Army, the visitors, and ground mammals (cows, foxes, Hogs and more) is growing, I assume, the numbers will continue to decline.

The photographed nest was found by Roni Livne on our visit of the 12th 14th.6.08. The nest was still being built and only one egg was laid.
I carefully re visited the nest on 20th 21.6.08 where 2 eggs were brood. On the 1.7.08 I found the nest empty and can defiantly advise that the nest was robbed and destroyed.

Watching the pair from a hide during the 2 previous times this year was great fun, and produced some interesting information on the Sp. Behavior.

1. only the female was seen breeding

  
Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris bicornis
  

  
Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris bicornis
  

2. the male used to visit the nest very few time during the day, usually at around 08:00 and 10:00 local time (sunrise at 05:34).

  
Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris bicornis
  

  
Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris bicornis
  

3. the female had in the early morning (06:00 09:30) a breeding pattern of 10 minutes breeding and 10 minutes feeding (leaving the nest deserted) from about 09:30 the breeding time was longer and "feeding" time shorted (up to 5 minutes)

  
Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris bicornis
  

4. when disturbed the female used to fly to a certain point and from there to the feeding ground, but when naturally decided to leave the nest, the female was walking away in a very constrained pattern time after time returning to the nest had also a very predicted pattern of walking, "like ground picking" habit, feathers shake and entering the nest from the very same point.

  
Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris bicornis
  

  
Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris bicornis
  

Unfortunately this very nest failed to produce a new generation of this species.


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