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Bulletin 1: 02 on Rare Birds in Israel (1995 - 2001)

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

The Israel Rarities and Distribution Committee met for the second time in 2001, on Friday 30th November. The meeting was held at Kibbutz Lotan with members present being Barak Granit, Yoav Perlman, James P. Smith and Ido Tsurim. In view of the regular absence from Israel of Hadoram Shirihai and Eyal Shochat, Nir Sapir was invited to attend the meeting with a view to becoming a member of the committee in the near future.

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, it is our main objective to assess all the 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 twenty one reports at our second meeting, a task made easier by the fact that some members has seen the reports prior to the meeting.

Reports that were considered to be fully acceptable were placed into Category A as follows;

Great Shearwater Puffinus gravis - 1 off Jaffa Port, Dan region on 9th February 1995. (B.Granit). 3rd record.

Little Shearwater Puffinus assimilis - 1 off Jaffa Port on 15th January 1996. Considered to be P. a. baroli. ( B. Granit). 2nd record.

Pink-backed Pelican Pelecanus rufescens - 1 , age uncertain, Moaz Hayyim and Tirat Zevi, Bet Shean Valley from mid-May to 14th August 1997 at least. (H. Shirihai, B. Granit).
6th record.

Lesser Frigatebird Fregrata ariel - 1, Eilat north beach, 1st December 1997. (R.Riddington, J.Reid ). 1st Israel record and 1st West Palearctic record. Thoroughly documented in British Birds 93:01.

Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis. 1 at Ma'agan Michael, Carmel region, during mid-July to 12th August at least 1997. (Y. Eshbol, B.Granit ). 19th record.

Southern Pochard Netta erythropthalma - 1, resembling adult female but exact age/sex not fully established, Km.20 north of Eilat, 30th April - 8th May 1998. Photographed. (H. Shirihai, B.Granit, D. Gelbart et al). 1st Israel record and 1st West Palearctic record. Documented in Sandgrouse 22:02 (O.S.M.E).

Lappet - faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus - 1, immature, Eilat Mountains 21st May 2001. Photographed. (B.Granit, T.Ellery, J.P. Smith). Extinct former breeder, now considered vagrant. 3rd record since 1995.
This was the first one seen in flight since 1995. Two individuals have been picked up exhausted in Quetura, Eilot region in June 1996, and the Bet Shean Valley in September 1998.(O. Hatzefe pers comm.).

Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax - 1, probably adult, between Urim and Ze'elim, NW Negev on 15th March 2000. (J.P. Smith, T.Cleeves, A. Pitches et al).
1, probably adult male, North West Negev from 16th December 2000 to 10th March 2001 at least. Appeared to be 'courting' adult Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca with display, nest building and copulation observed during its near three month stay. Photographed and filmed. (B. Granit, D. MacAdams, J. P. Smith et al).
2nd & 3rd documented records. The committee requires documentation for two reports from the same area in November 1996, and December 1997.

Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus - 1 adult, Revadim Reservoir, Southern Judean Plain, 19th May 2000. (A.Ganz.) 6th record, and the first outside the Eilot region.

Crab Plover Dromas ardeola - 2 adults, Ma'yan Zvi beach, Carmel region on 20th July 1997. Photographed (Y.Eshbol, B. Granit et al). 3rd record.
One of the finds of the decade, the first observer (and photographer) being sufficiently enterprising to put out the news with enough time to allow four other lucky observers to see this one day wonder.

Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus - 1, age uncertain, Eilat salt pans on 22nd May 2001. Photographed. ( B.Granit, T. Ellery, J. P. Smith et al). 2nd Israel record.
The report from Km. 20, north of Eilat during 14th - 16th April 1998 and formerly acknowledged as the 2nd Israel record, has been withdrawn by the finder after the photographs were examined by E. Hirschfeld.

Sooty Gull Larus hemprichii - 1, first-winter, Shifdan sewage pools, Dan region, on 21st September 1998. (E. Dovrat). 5th record for Israel, and the first for the Mediterranean Coast.

Audouin's Gull Larus audouinii - 1, first-winter, Ma'agan Michael, Carmel coast from 7th to 25th January 2001. (T.Ellery, Y. Perlman et al). 18th record. The committee would like to receive details of at least seven other reports since 1996.

Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus - 1, first-winter or female, Zfat, Galilee region from 1st - 31st January 1996.Photographed. (B. Granit, Y. Perlman, E. Dovrat et al). 1st record.
An unexpected mid-winter prize for the finder and seen well by many during the following month.

Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus - 1, Ram Farm, Beer Sheva on 18th October 1997. Trapped, ringed and photographed. (E. Shochat, Y. Perlman, M. Whitehouse).
1, Hazeva, Northern Arava, on 27th January 1998. (Y. Perlman). 3rd & 4th records. All of the records to date have been one-day occurrences. The Hazeva bird was the first in mid-winter but continues the sequence of Siberian/Asian pylloscopus warblers found to be apparently wintering in Israel (see next sp.)

Pallas's Warbler Pylloscopus proregulus - 1, Beer Sheva (in a city park), 10th February to 12th April 1998. (E. Shochat, I. Tsurim et al). 3rd record.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus - 1, Kefar Ruppin, Bet Shean Valley on 20th October 1998. Trapped, ringed and photographed (Y. Perlman, R. Lindroos). 6th record.
All the accepted records to date have come from Northern Israel during October - March. The committee is awaiting details for at least two other credible reports.

The following reports have been received by the committee but remain under consideration;

Audubon's Shearwater Puffinus lerminieri - 1, Eilat north beach on 15th May 1999.

Great white Egret Egretta alba - 1 of eastern form, E.a. modesta at Kefar Ruppin, Bet Shean on 25th November 1996.

Bataleur Terathopius ecaudatus - 1, immature at Tirat Zevi, Bet Shean Valley on 23rd October 2000.

Bridled Tern Sterna anaethetus - 1, Switzerland Park, Eilat and Aqaba, Jordan on 24th September 1999.

Pied Stonechat Saxicola caprata - 1, male at Eilat, from 4th - 7th November 1996.

Blyth's Reed Warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum -

Basra Reed Warbler Acrocephalus griseldis -

Menetrei's Warbler Sylvia mystecea - 1, adult female, Kefar Ruppin 16th October 1998. Trapped, ringed and photographed. 1, first-winter female, Kefar Ruppin on 12th November 1998. Trapped, ringed and photographed.

Steppe Grey Shrike Lanius pallidirostris - 1, first-winter, Km.33, Southern Arava on 22nd November 1997. 1, first-winter, Km. 53 (Yotvata), Southern Arava on 27th November 1997.
1, first-winter, Ein Avdat, Central Negev on 22nd November 1999.

Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla - 1, adult male at Km. 40, Southern Arava on 27th - 31st March 1997.

White-fronted Sandplover - 1 at Km. 20, north of Eilat on 5th April 2000.

This concludes the findings of the IRDC's most recent meeting at Kibbutz Lotan on 30th November 2001. The next meeting is planned for February 2001 and 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;

James P. Smith
Israel Rarities & Distribution Committee
Kibbutz Lotan
D. N. Chevel Eilot
88855 ISRAEL
Fax; +972-8-6356-937
email: jamesp_smith@yahoo.com

Appendix 1.
Guidelines for the submission of rare and unusual species in Israel, from IRDC bulletin 1: 01;
Our main objectives are to improve the standard of rarity recording in Israel and to
speed up the acceptance/rejection process by meeting at least three times per year. It is our ambition to publish our findings on a regular basis. Each record will be voted upon by at least five out of the six members and judged upon its own merits.

Ideally we would like to receive reports that include the following;

1) Written documentation of date, location, observers, weather and optical aids used.
2) Full written documentation of the events surrounding the observation.
3) Full written documentation of the identification complete with field notes.
4) The inclusion of good quality photographs, digital images or video images.
5) The inclusion of ringing data/ bio - metrics where appropriate.
6) The inclusion of sound recordings where appropriate.
7) Supporting documentation from co-observers.
8) Brief documentation of the observer's previous 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 didn't 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.

The members of IRDC are Barak Granit, Yoav Perlman, Nir Sapir, Eyal Shochat, Hadoram Shirihai, James P. Smith and Ido Tsurim.

Great Cormorant
(Phalacrocorax carbo) Acre, Jan-06

White-winged Black Tern
(Chlidonias leucopterus) Ma'agan Michael, Mar.04

Temmincks Horned Lark
(Eremophila bilopha) Arava valley, Mar.05
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