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Bulletin 10:01 Rare Birds in Israel

In this bulletin about rare birds in Israel, we provide an up-to-date account of all records evaluated by the Israeli Rarities and Distribution Committee since our previous bulletin in January 2015. Most records in this bulletin are recent, of rarities recorded primarily during 2015 and late 2014, including three first records for Israel - Manx Shearwater, Ashy Drongo and Senegal Thick-knee. Few old gaps are also covered in this bulletin.

For each accepted records full details are provided. For records that could not be accepted, basic details are provided as well as the rejection reason. In addition, we inform which species will no longer be evaluated by the IRDC.

Section 1: Records accepted to category A:

Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus)
  • 1 adult, Kfar Barukh Reservoir, Jizreel Valley, 10/11/2014 (E. Amir, B. Granit et al.). Photographed.
    Remained there until early January 2015. Sixth record for Israel;
    the previous record was in 1993.
Taiga Bean Goose (Anser fabalis fabalis)
  • 1, probably of fabalis group, Agamon Hula, 2/3/15 (Y. Eshbol). Photographed. Fourth record for Israel. The previous records was in winter 2013/14 at the same site, so possibly this is a returning individual.
    However this individual was not seen at this well-watched site all winter. The taxonomic position of all Israeli records in not quite clear, and needs further investigation.
Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca)
  • 3, off Nitzanim Beach, S Mediterranean Coast, 17/2/15 (J. Meyrav).
    Seen also next day off Ashkelon, about 15 km south (R. Shaish).

    Eighth record for Israel. The previous record was also along the Mediterranean Coast in January 2008, and this record fits well within the known occurrence pattern in Israel.
Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)
  • 1 adult, North Beach, Eilat, 3-17/5/15 (D. de Boer et al.). Photographed.

    Fifth record for Israel, the previous record was in 1996. This brilliant individual was well-watched during its prolonged stay.

  Red-necked Grebe  (Podiceps grisegena)  
  North Beach, Eilat, 5/2015 (© Avi Meir)

Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus)
  • 1, North Beach, Eilat, 6-18/6/14 (S. Shalev et al.). Photographed.

    The first record for Israel. It was seen very well during its prolonged stay by most of the Israeli leading birding community. Outstanding photographs of the bird also allowed careful examination of all identification criteria and led, together with the field impressions, to the decision to accept this record. It is important to mention that Hadoram Shirihai, who examine the photos but didn't see the bird in the field, holds a different opinion in which due to similar extreme juveniles Yelkouan Shearwater individuals from eastern Mediterranean, which show similar undertail coverts and underwing markings it is impossible to exclude Yelkouan Shearwater thus best leave the Eilat's bird unidentified. However, HS admits that his opinion is based on photos only lacking the important field impression in this case.
    Based on the field impressions of structure (which included very short leg projection) which shared by all birders who saw the bird, and have extensive experience with Yelkouan Shearwater, it was agreed that this bird fits perfectly what is expected from Manx Shearwater, better than Yelkouan Shearwater that is a rarity by its own in Eilat with only two records up to date.
Additional Images of the Manx Shearwater

  Manx Shearwater  (Puffinus puffinus)  
  North Beach, Eilat, 6/7/14 (© Itzik Cohen)

Great Shearwater (Puffinus gravis)
  • 1, off Jaffa, 6/1/15 (S. Alterman et al.). Photographed. Seventh record for Israel.
    A typical mid-winter record.

  Great Shearwater  (Puffinus gravis)  
  Jaffa, Tel-Aviv, 6/1/15 (© Shahar Alterman)

Pink-backed Pelican (Pelecanus rufescens)
  • 1 immature, Harod and Jizreel Valleys, 9/7 - 14/10/15 (S. London, B. Granit et al.). Photographed.
    This is the eighth record for Israel. The previous record was in 2001.
    This individual ranged across these two adjacent valleys throughout the summer and early autumn.

  Pink-backed Pelican  (Pelecanus rufescens)  
  Harod Valley, 7/2015 (© Gidi Kertes)

Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis)
  • 1 immature, Tirat Zvi, Bet She'an Valley, 17-18/9/15 (G. Leitner et al.). Photographed.
    This is about the 25th record in Israel. This bird is not a mega rarity anymore after six records in 2013-14.

  Yellow-billed Stork  (Mycteria ibis)  
  Bet She'an Valley, 9/2015 (© Avi Livne)

Lesser Flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor)
  • 1 adult, KM20 Saltpans, Eilat, 14/11/14 - 4/2/15 (H. Shohat et al.). Photographed.
    This is the second record for Israel; the first record was at the same site in March 2006.

  Lesser Flamingo  (Phoenicopterus minor)  
  KM20 Saltpans, Eilat, 11/2015 (© Haim Shohat)

Red-billed teal (Anas erythrorhyncha)
  • 1, Idan, N Arava, 30/1/2015 (E. Haviv, L. Cabra et al.). Photographed.
This is the second record in Israel and the Western palearctic, after the first record in 1958. This was not an easy decision for the IRDC, However, the decision to accept this record to Category A was based on several factors:
  • 1) There are no indications of feral Red-billed Ducks in Israel or in neighbouring country since 2005 (based on a work done by Amir Ben Dov researching this topic).
  • 2) It is a species that breeds in the Rift Valley in Sudan, and is known to disperse up to 1000 km as a result of changes in water levels.
  • 3) This individual shows no signs of captivity and is especially wary of humans.
The facts that this individual has stayed in the northern Arava region for a long period, and has probably hybridized with local Mallards, do not effect its possibility to occur naturally in Israel.
The bird stayed in the N Arava 31/1/2015, and then was not reported or was absent until relocated during 11/2015 in the same general area.
Since then it has been commuting between sewage ponds in the N Arava until now. It is also worth noting that a Red-billed Teal was photographed in Ashalim in the W Negev, 1/8/13 (E. Gur). It is unclear whether this individual was ringed or not, or whether it is the same individual that has later relocated to the northern Arava (60km away) or not. At the moment this individual was not accepted by IRDC.

  Red-billed teal  (Anas erythrorhyncha)  
  Idan, N Arava, 30/1/2015 (© Meidad Goren)

Yellow-billed Kite (Milvus aegyptius)
  • 1 immature, picked up exhausted near Rahat, N Negev, 28/3/15. It was taken into care at NPA Wildlife Hospital where it was identified (S. Landau, A. Ben Dov).
    It was rehabilitated and released on 2/5/15. This is the second record in Israel, after an individual that was trapped in the late 1960's and lived in the Tel Aviv University Zoological Gardens until the late 1980's.
Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus)
  • 1 immature, Bet Nir, S Judean Plains, 30/1/15 (E. Hadad et al.).
    Possibly the same individual was seen again at Nahla on 31/5/15 (E. Hadad, I. Ravid). Photographed.
    It remained in the general area until the end of 2015 and was well-twitched by many observers. Eighth record.

    1 immature, migrating over Kisra, W Galilee, 31/3/15 (R. Segali). Photographed. Ninth record.

  Bateleur  (Terathopius ecaudatu)  
  Beit Nir, S Judean Plains, 2/2015 (© Ezra Hadad)

Verraux's Eagle (Aquila verreauxii)
  • 1 adult or near-adult, Ma'ale Akrabim, NE Negev, 28/11/15 (E. Fast) and wadi Ze'elim, Judean Desert (I. Donitza). Photographed.
    Incredibly, this bird was seen independently by two birders in the remote desert 50 km apart.
    Not even annual in Israel; previous record was in 2013.
Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos negevensis)
  • 1 immature female, Hai Bar Carmel NP, 13/6/15 (Ygal Miller et al.). Photographed.
    This bird settled in a reintroduction center for Eurasian Griffons operated by Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
    On 22/6/15 it got trapped in a griffon cage. It was examined and was found to be in poor physical condition, and was taken into care.
    Since it became extinct as a breeding bird in Israel in the mid 1990's, only a handful have been recorded, most recently in May 2001.

  Lappet-faced Vulture  (Torgos tracheliotos negevensis)  
  Hai Bar Carmel, 7/2015 (© Igal Miller)

Senegal Thick-knee (Burhinus senegalensis)
  • 1, Ma'agan Michael, 8/7/15 (C. Rozen et al.). Photographed.

    The first for Israel.
    This one-day wonder was seen well until dusk, but was never relocated.

  Senegal Thick-knee  (Burhinus senegalensis)  
  Ma'agan Michael, 7/2015 (© Chen Rozen)

Lesser Sand-plover (Charadrious atriforns)
  • 1, probably adult female atrifrons, Ma'ayan Zvi, Carmel Coast, 20-25/7/14 (B. Granit et al.). Photographed.
    The fifth for Israel, exactly at the same site one year after the previous record.

  Lesser Sand-plover  (Charadrious atriforns)  
  Ma'ayan Zvi, Carmel Coast, 7/2014 (© Rony Livne)

Pin-tailed Snipe (Gallinago stenura)
  • 1 ringed, Kfar Ruppin, 7-14/10/15 (G. Goddard, D. de Boer et al.). Photographed. Ninth record.
  • 1, Nir Oz, NW Negev, 12-13/10/15 (D. Standing, B. Granit et al.). 10th record.

    Another individual was reported in the NW Negev in mid October 2015 but sadly the observer refused to submit the record to IRDC.
    These records demonstrate the normal vagrancy pattern of this Siberian species. 2015 was a good year for this species.

  Pin-tailed Snipe  (Gallinago stenura)  
  Nir Oz, NW Negev, 10/2015 (© Dominic Standing)

Greater Painted-snipe (Rostratula benghalensis)
  • 1 juvenile or male-type, Nizzana, 29/9/14 (J. Meyrav, L. Tiller). Photographed.

    Still a major rarity in Israel; previously recorded in 2011.
'British' Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus (fuscus fuscus graellsii)
  • 28/11/2014, Ma'agan Michael, The first record for Israel of this taxon. Its identification was verified by its colour-ring read in the field. It was ringed in 2012 as an adult male in a mixed colony in N Norway, but was positively identified by the ringer (Morten Helberg) as graellsii. This individual was resighted at Ashdod in March 2015 and again in December 2015 (Amir Ben Dov).
Sabine's Gull (Larus sabini)
  • 1 2cy, Ma'agan Michael, 23/4 - 16/5/09 (S. Agmon, A. Mayrose et al.). Photographed.
    Third accepted record in Israel, and the first away from Eilat.
    This bird was heavily twitched.

  Sabine's Gull  (Larus sabini)  
  Ma'agan Michael, 4/2009 (© Lior Kislev)

Great Crested Tern (Sterna bergii)
  • 1, North Beach, Eilat, 23/9/14 (S. Shalev). Photographed.
    Still rare in Israel; previously recorded in 2012.
White-cheeked Tern (Sterna repressa)
  • 2 adults laid three eggs on a platform off Eilat, August 2015 (N. Segev et al.).
    Following a considerable increase in the abundance of this species year-round in the head of Gulf of Aqaba in recent years, this is the first confirmed breeding recorded in Israel.
    Sadly the eggs were abandoned and the breeding failed. This species breeds regularly on islands off S Sinai.
Rufous Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis)
  • 1 1cy meena, Yotvata, 6-7/11/14 (I. Shanni et al.). Photographed. 11th record for Israel.
    1 at Yotvata, 12/11/2015 (C. Rozen). Photographed.
    In recent years this species has become just about an annual autumn vagrant.
Arabian Dunn's Lark (Eremalauda dunni eremodites)
  • 2, Haifa, 28-29/3/15 (E. Peretz et al.). Photographed.
    1, Bet Yanay Beach, C Mediterranean Coast, 23/10/15 (I. Solnik). Photographed.
    Very few records away from S Negev and Arava.
Black-crowned Sparrow-lark (Eremopterix nigriceps)
  • 1 female, Yotvata, 26/10 - 10/11/14 (Y. Shiff, I. Shanni, B. Granit et al.). Photographed.
    1 male, Se'ifim Plains, Eilat Mts., 5-15/4/15 (S. Greif, P. D'Ameglio et al.).
    Typical spring and autumn occurrences in southern Israel of this rare lark.

  Black-crowned Sparrow-lark  (Eremopterix nigriceps)  
  Yotvata, 10/2014 (© Yael and Shimon Shiff)

Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus)
  • 1, Ashkelon NP, 27/3 - 15/4/15 (O. Lewy et al.) Photographed. 15th record.
    1, KM20 saltpans, Eilat, 18/5/15 (C. Rozen). Photographed. 16th record.
    1, KM76, C Arava, 21/11/15 (S. and Y. Shiff). Photographed. 17th record.
    2015 was an exceptionally good year for this species.

  Hypocolius  (Hypocolius ampelinus)  
  KM76, Arava, 11/2015 (© Yael and Shimon Shiff)

Ashy Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus)
  • 1, Gan Shmuel, N Coastal Plains, 3-14/12/14 (I. Solnik et al.). Photographed.
    The first for Israel, The finder posted images of this bird for identification on social media, and the immediate responses were of course very excited.
    This bird stayed inside the kibbutz long enough for some international twitchers to add it to their 'true' WP list.

  Ashy Drongo  (Dicrurus leucophaeus)  
  Gan Shmuel, N Coastal Plains, 12/2014 (© Meir Levy)

'Eastern' Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos golzii)
  • 1 ringed, IBRCE, Eilat, 5/5/15 (N. Weiss et al.). Photographed.
    The sixth record of this eastern taxon.

  'Eastern' Nightingale  (Luscinia megarhynchos golzii)  
  Gan Shmuel, Eilat, 5/5/2015 (© Noam Weiss)

Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus)
  • 1 male, Nafkha, C Negev, 20-21/11/14 (B. Granit et al.). Photographed.
    1 male, Nafkha, C Negev, 14/11/15 (B. Granit and S. Alterman). Photographed.
    Still a rare bird in Israel, but Nafkha Farm in the C Negev is a hotspot for this species.

  Ring Ouzel  (Turdus torquatus)  
  Nafha Farm, Negev Mts, 11/2015 (© Barak Granit)

Basra Reed Warbler (Accrocephalus griseldis)
  • 1 1cy, ringed, Agamon Hula, 18/8/15 (Y. Charka). Photographed.
    After the small-scale breeding event in the Hula Valley between 2006 and 2008, this species has returned to its rarity status.
Paddyfield Warbler (Acrocephalus agricola)
  • 1 ringed, IBRCE, Eilat, 5/10/15 (C. Rozen et al.). Photographed.
    10th Israeli record. All records involve ringed birds.
Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)
  • 1 ringed, Yeruham Lake, C Negev, 22/8/14 (Y. Zvik, R. Livne et al.). Photographed.
    11th record for Israel; the previous record was also of an individual ringed at yeruham in April 2013.

  Grasshopper Warbler  (Locustella naevia)  
  Yeruham Lake, C Negev, 8/2014 (© Rony Livne)

Green Warbler (Phylloscopus nitidus)
  • 1, ringed, Yeruham Lake, C Negev, 2/10/14 (Y. Zvik, R. Livne et al.). Photographed.
    Seventh record for Israel. Previous record was in June 2011.
Chestnut-shouldered Petronia (Petronia xanthocollis)
  • 1 1cy, Kfar Ruppin, Bet She'an Valley, 25/9/15 (Y. Popper). Photographed.
    This is the fourth record for Israel. Previous record was in 2002.
    The finder posted an image on social media for identification. Searches of it in the same area in the following days by many birders revealed nothing.

  Chestnut-shouldered Petronia  (Petronia xanthocollis)  
  Kfar ruppin, Bet She'an valley, 9/2015 (© Yedidya Popper)

Common Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)
  • 2 (male and female-type), Yanuv, Heffer Valley, 11/11/14 (N. Pevzner). Photographed.
    Outstanding record and documentation of these flyovers.
    After regular occurrence and occasional breeding until the 1980's, this species has been absent since 1994.
    The finder added a fine species to his garden list.

  Common Crossbill  (Loxia curvirostra)  
  Yanuv, Heffer Valley, 11/2014 (© Nadav Pevzner)

Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica)
  • 1, KM20 Saltpans, Eilat, 21/11/14 (N. Eden). Photographed.
    The finder was not sure about the identification and got assistance via social media. Sadly it was not seen again.

  Rustic Bunting  (Emberiza rustica)  
  KM20 Saltpans, Eilat, 11/2014 (© Noa Eden)

Little Bunting (Emberiza pusilla)
  • 1 ringed, Tsor'a, Judean Plains, 20/11/14 (Y. Kiat et al.). Photographed.
    1 ringed, Neve Eitan, Bet She’an Valley, 5/12/14 (Y. Kiat et al.). photographed.
    These charismatic buntings seem to be attracted to this lucky ringer's nets.

Section 2: Records not accepted
Rueppell's Vulture X Eurasian Griffon (gyps rueppellii X fulvus)
  • 15/7/2014, Gamla, Golan Heights - There is no sufficient data to confirm this plumage in outside of the possible variation in Eurasian Griffon, especially since the underwings show a typical Eurasian Griffon pattern.

  Eurasian Griffon Vulture  (gyps fulvus)  
  Gamla, Golan Heights, 15/7/2014 (© Shahar Alterman)

  Eurasian Griffon Vulture  (gyps fulvus)  
  Gamla, Golan Heights, 15/7/2014 (© Shahar Alterman)

Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)
  • 1 female-type, off Betzet Beach, N Mediterranean Coast, 20/12/2014, brief observation.
White-eyed Gull (Larus leucophthalmus)
  • 2/10/2015, Zikim Beach, S Mediterranan Coast - Insufficient documentation, lacking information in description.
Rufous Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis meena)
  • 16/11/2014, KM20 Date Plantations, Eilat - Misidentified European Turtle dove.
Black-crowned Sparrow-lark (Eremopterix nigriceps)
  • 10/12/2014, Eilat - Insufficient information, brief observation.
Black-crowned Sparrow-lark (Eremopterix nigriceps)
  • 2/1/2014, Eilot - Insufficient information, brief observation.
Brown-throated Martin (Riparia paludicola)
  • 21/7/2015, Heimar Reservoir, S Dead Sea - Sadly this record was rejected, despite being seen well by an experienced observer. For such a rarity more documentation is needed to exclude aberrant Sand Martin.
Common Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)
  • 11/11/2014, Ramat Hovav, N Negev - Insufficient information and documentation.

Section 3: Records withdrawn
Sanuders's Tern (sterna saundersi)
  • 18/8/2015, North Beach, Eilat

Additional images of the Manx Shearwater - 6-18/6/14

  Manx Shearwater  (Puffinus puffinus)  
  North Beach, Eilat, 6/7/2014 (© Rami Mizrahi)

  Manx Shearwater  (Puffinus puffinus)  
  North Beach, Eilat, 6/7/2014 (© Rami Mizrahi)

  Manx Shearwater  (Puffinus puffinus)  
  North Beach, Eilat, 6/7/2014 (© Rami Mizrahi)

  Manx Shearwater  (Puffinus puffinus)  
  North Beach, Eilat, 6/7/2014 (© Itzik Cohen)

  Manx Shearwater  (Puffinus puffinus)  
  North Beach, Eilat, 6/7/2014 (© Itzik Cohen)

  Manx Shearwater  (Puffinus puffinus)  
  North Beach, Eilat, 6/7/2014 (© Itzik Cohen)

Committee Members: Avner Cohen, Barak Granit, Yoav Perlman and Yosef Kiat.

Crested Lark
(Galerida cristata) Yotvata, Apr.05

(Serinus serinus) Hula, Feb.05

Night Heron
(Nycticorax nycticorax) Ma'agan Michael, Aug.04
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