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Bulletin 2:02 on Rare birds in Israel

The Israeli Rarities and Distribution Committee, 27 November 2002

The Israeli Rarities and Distriburtion Committee (IRDC) met on 1st November, the third meeting for 2002. Voting members present were Nir Sapir, Ido Tsurim, Barak Granit and Yoav Perlman. In this meeting the committee reviewed 33 records. The criteria for rarity recording in Israel are outlined in Appendix 1 at the end of this bulletin and in the IRDC web pages at: http://www.israbirding.com/irdc/bulletins/bulletin_1/index.shtml
The committee's main objective is to assess all rarity observations in Israel reported after the publication of the "Birds of Israel" (Shirihai 1996). In general, we will review reports of species recorded in Israel less than 25 times up to, and including the publication of the "Birds of Israel". A full list of species to be reviewed by the IRDC is given in Appendix 2 and in the IRDC web pages. The members of the IRDC are Barak Granit, Yoav Perlman, Nir Sapir, Eyal Shochat and Ido Tsurim.

Records accepted into category A:

Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica- 1, Acre (Akko) beach, 28th December 1998 (E. Dovrat). The 12th record for Israel.

Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena- 1, Tishlovet Hakishon reservoir, Jezra'el Valley, 20th January 1996 (D. Alon). The 4th record for Israel, and the first since 1986.

Soft-plumaged Petrel Pterodroma mollis- 1, Eilat's north baech, 25th March 1997 (E. Hirschfeld, H. Shirihai et al.). The 1st record for Israel, and a first confirmed record for the Western Palearctic. See also Shirihai (1999), and a note below in "Records that remain under circulation".

Audubon's Shearwater Puffinus l'herminieri- 1, ssp. bailloni, Eilat's north beach, 18th-21st June 1992 (H. Shirihai, J. Morgan et.al.), photographed (Shirihai and Sinclair 1994). 1, ssp. bailloni, Eilat's north beach, 15th May 1999 (B. Granit, R. Lindroos). 1st and 2nd records for Israel and for the Westren Palearctic. The 1992 bird was originally assigned to P. atrodorsalis, a new taxon described by Shirihai and Sinclair (1994) and Shirihai et al. (1995). However, following the extensive field experience of H. Shirihai in studying Puffinus species world-wide (personal communication), and after examination of both 1992 and 1999 records, the IRDC decided to follow the opinion of H. Shirihai to assign the 1992 bird and the 1999 bird into the Indian Ocean's bailloni sub-species of Audubon's Shearwater (see also Shirihai 1999).

Tropicbird sp. Phaethon sp.- 1 immature, Eilat, 2nd May 1998 (E. Dovrat). The description given by the observer matches an immature individual belonging to the genus Phaethon. The bird could not have safely been assigned into a certain species (e.g., Red-billed, as suggested by the observer).

Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus- 2 adults, Hulda and Revadim reservoirs, 26th-27th January (D. Oz, D. Montag, R. Mizrahi, D. Gelbart et al.), Rediscovered 23rd -26th February, Rehovot winter pond and Givat Brener reservoir (D. Gelbart, E. Banker and Y. Setti), Central Judea and coastal plains, The 4th record for Israel, the last being in 1985.

Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus- 1 adult, Ashdod sewage ponds, 27th October - 30th November 2001 (E. Dovrat et al.). About 11th record for Israel.

Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis- 7 flying south off Haifa, 24th September 2002 (B. Granit). The 6th record for Israel, the last being in 1986. A truly amazing record, and the first for the Mediterranean coast- all previous records have been at Eilat in winter.

Smew Mergus albellus- 1 male, 16th December 1999, Tirat Zvi, Bet She'an valley (E. Dovrat). 20th record for Israel, records from 2000 and 2002 (see previous bulletins) become 21st and 22nd.

Purple Gallinule Porphyrio porphyrio caspius/seistanicus- 1, Botemiya reservoir, Golan Heights, 11th July 1999 (F. Crystal). Caspius sub-species was reported occasionally up to the 1950's in the Hula Valley (see Shirihai 1996), but was not reported ever since. The description of the bird matches two extremely similar Purple Gallinule sub-species of the Near-East (Snow and Perrins 1998) and therefore this bird, and possibly also the records up to the 1950's, could not be safely assigned to capius sub-species.

Great Snipe Gallinago media- 1, Tirat Zvi, 2nd April 2001 (Y. Perlman). This species has become extremely rare recently- even Pintail Snipe seems commoner!

Pintail Snipe Gallinago stenura– 1, Kfar Ruppin, 12th-16th October 2002 (Y. Perlman, C. Rohde, R. Larsen et al.). The 5th record for Israel, and the fourth at the same turf fields since 1998!

Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius– three records as follows: 1, Eilat, 1st-2nd April 1996 (Foreign birders, B. Granit, D. Alon). 1, Kfar Ruppin, 6th November- 27th December 1998, trapped, ringed and photographed on 14th (Luxemburgian birders, Y. Perlman, R. Lindroos et.al.). 1, Tirat Zvi, 15th April 2001 (Y. Perlman, M. Peled). The 23rd-25th records for Israel.

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus- 1 adult, Shifdan sewage pools, Dan region, 25th December 1998 till 2nd January 1999 (E. Dovrat). The 7th record for Israel.

Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea- 1 first-summer, Eilat's north beach, 29th July 2002 (B. Granit, Y. Perlman, E. Banker). The 23rd individual for Israel.

'Caspian Nightingale' Luscinia megarhynchos hafizi- 1 first-spring bird, ringed, Kfar Ruppin, 26th April 2001 (Y. Perlman). The 5th record for Israel of this central asian sub-species, the last being in 1989.

Basra Reed Warbler Acrocephalus griseldis- 1, Eilat, 24th March- 12th April 1998 , photographed (Foreign birders, B. Granit et al.). The 9th record record for Israel. 1, Ein Rimon, N Negev, 13th-14th April 1999 (I. Tsurim). The 12th record for Israel.

Steppe Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis pallidirostris- four records as follows: 1 first-winter, Zohar sewage pools, S Dead Sea, 21st October 1998 (J.P. Smith et al.). 4th record for Israel. 1 first-winter, Yotvata, 11th-14th November 1999 (J.P. Smith, T. Ellery, S. Lermann et.al.), 6th record. 1 first-winter, Kfar Ruppin, 28th November- 8th December 1999 (J.P. Smith et al.), 7th record. 1, Yas'ur, Zvulun valley, 2nd January 2001, (B. Granit), 9th record for Israel and the first winter record for the country.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus- 1, Hula reserve, 12th November 1997 (A. Balaban). The 6th record for Israel, with at least three more since (see previous bulletins).

Yellow-beasted Bunting Embriza aureola- 1, Katif, NW Negev, 10th September 2001 (Y. Perlman). Israel's 10th record, and the first since 1994.

Records accepted into Category D:

Amethyst Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster- 1 adult male, Eilat, 5th July- 14th August 1983 (H. Shirihai), see also Shirihai (1996, 1999). The possibility that this bird was an escape could not be ruled out, and consequently the committee decided that this species will be reassign to Category D (see note below under general announcements/decisions).

Records that remain under circulation:

Soft-plumaged / Fea's Petrel Pterodroma mollis/feae- 1, found dead on shores of Dead Sea, 8th February 1963. The bird is preserved in the Zoological collection of Tel-Aviv University. The identification of this specimen, originally identified as Fea's Petrel, is not clear (Shirihai 1996, Shirihai 1999) and deserves further investigation.

Great White Egret Egretta alba- 1, sub-species modestus, Kfar Ruppin, 25th November 1998.

Swinhoe's Snipe Gallinago megala- 1, Hula valley, 28th February- 4th March 1998.

Rejected records:

Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka- 1 first-winter male, Gilgal, Jordan valley, 22nd October 2000.

Chough sp. Pyrrhocorax sp.- 2, Yahel area, Arava valley, 23rd December 2001.

General decisions/announcements:
1. The committee has decided to adopt the guidelines of the European Association of Rarities Committees (http://www.aerc.be/) and to take the necessitated immediate steps accordingly. One of the most crucial steps is the change in species categorization:
All bird species recorded in the country will be assigned into the following five categories:

A Species which have been recorded in an apparently natural state at least once since 1 January 1950.

B Species which were recorded in an apparently natural state at least once up to 31 December 1949, but have not been recorded subsequently.

C Species that, although originally introduced by man, either deliberately or accidentally, have established breeding populations derived from introduced stock, that maintain themselves without necessary recourse to further introduction.

D Species that would otherwise appear in Categories A or B except that there is reasonable doubt that they have ever occurred in a natural state.

E Species that have been recorded as introductions, transportees or escapees from captivity, and whose breeding populations (if any) are thought not to be self sustaining.

2. The committee has decided not to review records concerning the species Red Knot (Calidris canutus) due to the relative abundance of records concerning this species in recent years (at least several individuals annually). Instead, the committee would like to receive only reports of observations on this species in the country, in order to monitor the long-term occurrence of the species in Israel.
3. The committee has decided to review records of the "Basalt" morph of Mourning Wheatear observed in Israel.

We would like to thank Lars Svensson and Hadoram Shirihai for their important input on specific identification issues.

Shirihai, H. and Sinclair, I. 1994. An unidentified shearwater at Eilat. Birding World 7:274-278.
Shitihai, H., Sinclair, I. and Colston, P.R. 1995. A new species of Puffinus shearwater from the western Indian Ocean. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 15:75-87.
Shirihai, H. 1996. The Birds of Israel. Academic Press, London.
Shirihai, H. 1999. Fifty species new to Israel, 1979-1998: their discovery and documentation, with tips on identification. Sandgrouse 21(1):45-105.
Snow, D. and Perrins, C.M. (eds.) 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic. Concise edition. Oxford University Press.

Yoav Perlman and Nir Sapir on behalf of the IRDC, November 2002.

(Charadrius morinellus) Yotvata, Dec.05

Indian Silverbill
(Lonchura malabarica) Bet HaShitta, Aug.06

Pallass Gull
(Larus ichthyaetus)Ma'agan Michael, Jan.06
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