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Bulletin 9:01 Rare Birds in Israel

In this new bulletin, we provide details of many outstanding records of rarities in Israel, including several new species added to the Israeli list, and some old records that were revisited based on new data on occurrence in Israel. Further, details of rejected records are given, and of records that are still under review.
In addition, we provide information on some species that are no longer regarded as rarities that require a description.

Section 1: Records accepted to category A:

Black-throated Diver (Gavia arctica)
  • 2005 - two off Eilat's North Beach 19/Apr/05 (B. Granit and T. Landsberger).
    First suspected as G. stellata, but later on positively identified as G. arctica.
  • 2008 one at Eilat, 26/Nov/08 (Finn birders), stayed into December 2008 (N. Weiss and many observer). Photographed.
  • 2013 - one at Ma'agan Michael fishponds, 10/Oct/13 (E. Shochat, Y. Charka et al.). Last recorded 26/Oct/13. Photographed.
    • - one at North Beach, Eilat, 27/Dec/13 (S. Alterman and R. Mizrachi). Photographed.
  • An impressive run of records. This species is no longer a big rarity in Israel, but always a fine bird to see.

Red-billed Tropicbird (Phaetheon aethereus)
  • 2013 - 1, off North Beach, Eilat, 3/Jul/13 (I. Shanni, A. Meir et al.).

Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis)
  • 2013 - 1, Tel Yosef fishponds, Harod Valley, 27/May - 5/Aug/13 (I. Solnik et al.). Photographed.
    • - 1, Bet Netofa Valley, 12/Jul (Y. Koren at al.). Remained into August 2013. Photographed.
    • - 1, Ein Hamifraz fishponds, Acre Valley, 3/Sep/13 (I. Shimshon). Photographed.
  • 2014 - 1, Wadi Kane, W Samaria, 25/Apr/14 (A. Matzliah). Photographed.
    • - 1, Tirat Zvi fishponds, Bet Shean Valley, 19-20/Jun/14 (A. Rinot et al.). Photographed.
  • After 16 years of absence, this is an impressive run of records.

  Yellow-billed Stork(Mycteria ibis)  
  Beit Netofa, 19/Jul/13 ( Amir Ben-Dov)

Bean Goose (Anser fabalis)
  • 2013 - 1 at Agamon Hula, 5/Nov/13 (H. Seif et al.). Remained into early 2014. Third record for Israel. Photographed. First two records (Eilat, 2007 and Kfar Baruch, 2011/12) probably belonged to the fabalis group.
  • The 2013/14 record is probably the first record of rossicus group. All these records require further investigation regarding their taxonomic position.

Rueppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppellii)
  • 2014 - 1, Lakhish Hills, S Judean Plains, 5/May/14 (E. Hadad). Photographed. First for Israel.
Long-awaited first for Israel, found together with Eurasian Griffons away from the main colonies. It didn't linger, so hopefully more will come soon.

  Rueppell's Vulture(Gyps rueppellii)  
  S Judean Plains, 5/May/14 ( Ezra Hadad)

Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax)
  • 2013 - 1, East of Bet Kama, N Negev, 10-11/Aug/13 (E. Hadad et al.). Photographed. Fifth record.
  • Still a big rarity in Israel, it is unclear whether our birds originate from Asia or Africa.

Verraux's Eagle (Aquila verrauxi)
  • 2010 - 1 adult seen several times over Eilat Mts. between 1-10/Apr/10 (many birders).
  • 2013 - 1, Red Canyon, Eilat Mts., 23/Dec/13 (D. Hilbers et al.). Photographed.
  • The species' occurrence has become increasingly rare in recent decade.

Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus)
  • 2012 - 1, adult male, Urim, NW Negev, 30/Nov - 2/Dec/12 (M. Cohen et al.). Photographed. Second record for Israel.
  • First was in winter 1984/85, and this individual was well-watched and admired by many Israeli birders. Excellent find.

  Rough-legged Buzzard(Buteo lagopus)  
  Urim, NW Negev, 30/Nov ( Moshe Cohen)

Dark Chanting Goshawk (Melierax metabetas)
  • 2014 - 1, Yotvata, 29/Apr/14 (S. Arlow et al.). Photographed. Second record; first was in April 1979.
  • Another fantastic record. This bird was present for one day only, but was twitched by many birders thanks to rapid information-sharing.

  Dark Chanting Goshawk(Melierax metabetas)  
  Yotvata, 29/Apr/14 ( Steve Arlow)

Lesser Sand-plover (Charadrius mongolus)
  • 2010 - 1, KM20 Saltpans, Eilat, 22-25/Mar/10 (Many birders). Photographed. Fourth record.
  • 2013 - 1, Bet Yanay beach, 26/Jul/13 (I. Solnik). Then relocated at Ma'agan Michael, 31/Jul/13, remained until 2/Aug/13 (many birders). Belonged to the atrifrons group. Photographed. Fifth record.
  • With more clear information about separation from columbinus Greater Sand-plover, the older records that were under review for several years have now been accepted.

  Lesser Sand-plover(Charadrius mongolus)  
  Ma'agan Michael beach, Aug/13 ( Yoav Perlman)

Kittlitz's Plover (Charadrius pecuarius)
  • 2009 - 1 adult, KM20 Saltpans, Eilat, 13-14/Mar/09 (C. Rozen et al.). Photographed.
  • This species has become extremely rare in recent decades when previously recorded in 2000.

Crab Plover (Dromas ardeola)
  • 2014 - 1, Ma'agan Michael, 26/Jun/14 (E. Bartov & A. Mayrose). Photographed.
  • Fourth record. The bird was seen for one hour only before it disappeared, to the disappointment of many twitchers that rushed to see it. The previous record involved two birds at the same location on 19th July 1997.

  Crab Plover(Dromas ardeola)  
  Ma'agan Michael beach, Jun/14 ( Eyal Bartov)

Pin-tailed Snipe (Gallinago stenura)
  • 2011 - 1 ringed at Tsor'a, 10/Nov/11 (Y. Kiat et al.). Photographed. Seventh record.
  • 2013 - 1 at Ma'agan Michael, 10/Oct/13 (E. Shochat and Y. Charka et al.). Remained till 14/Oct/13. Observed and photographed. Eighth record.
  • Three out of the eight records in Israel were ringed and proved to be Pintail Snipe.
  • Until further evidence arises, IRDC treats all field observations as Pintail Snipe.

  Pin-tailed Snipe(Gallinago stenura)  
  Ma'agan Michael, Oct/12 ( Yoav Perlman)

Greater Painted-snipe (Rostratula benghalensis)
  • 2011 - 1. Hama'apil Fishponds, Hefer Valley, 24-26/Sep/11 (H. Ganzer et al.). Photographed.
    • - 1, Ein Hamifratz fishponds, 4/Nov/11 (M. Mandel). Photographed.
  • Still rare and unpredictable, not even annual.

Hudsonian Whimbrel (Numenius phaepos hudsonicus)
  • 2014 - 1, Nakhsholim beach, Carmel Coast, 6-17/Feb/14 (R. Segali, T. Kahn et al.).
  • Seen by many birders. Photographed. First record for Israel of this distinctive form. This rather mobile bird covered a long stretch of rocky beach with a few more Eurasian Curlews and Whimbrels. Excellent find.
  • Once the ID of the bird was confirmed, Another image of what is likely the same bird from the same location was found (Aug/13, L. Kislev).

  Hudsonian Whimbrel(Numenius phaepos hudsonicus)  
  Nakhsholim beach, Carmel Coast, Feb/14 ( Rei Segali)

Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)
  • 2009 - 1, KM20 Saltpans, Eilat, 20/Apr/09 (E. Didner). 8th record.
    • - 1, Ma'agan Michael, 30/Sep/09 (C. Rozen et al.). Remained until early October 2009. Photographed. 9th record.
  • 2012 - 1, Neve Ur, fishponds, Jordan Valley, 2/Oct/12 (G. Leitner et al.). Photographed. 11th record.
    • - 1, Og Reservoir, N Dead Sea, 21/Nov/12 (Y. Lehnardt and R. Haran). Photographed. 12th record.
  • 2014 - 1, KM20 Saltpans, Eilat, 11/May/14 (S. Shalev and I. Shanni). Photographed. 13th record.

Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
  • 2006 to 2014 - 1 adult, returning individual, Acre (S. Haham et al.). This individual has become a regular returning winter visitor to Acre. 6th record.

Rufous Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis meena)
  • 2003 - 1, Hula Reflooded lake, 6/Nov/03 (B. Granit and Z. Labinger). 4th record. Record from October 2007 (A. Balaban) becomes 5th.
  • 2010 - 1, Ashdod, 27/Feb/10 (A. Ben Dov). Photographed. 6th record.
    • - 1, JBO, 17/Oct/10 (R. Haran et al.). Photograhphed. 7th record.
    • - 1, Nachshon Reservoir, Judean Plains, 13/Nov/10 (A. Gancz). Photographed. 8th record.
  • 2011 - 1, Timorim, S Judean Plains, 4-5/Mar/11 (R. Livne et al.). Photographed. 9th record.
  • 2012 - 1, Nafha Vineyards, C Negev, 11-12/Nov/12 (S. Alterman and I. Gurfinkel et al.). Photographed. 10th record.
  • This species has become a classic late autumn 'sibe'.
  • There are two further reports (November 2010, Eilat and November 2013, Hula) without sufficient documentation, therefore not circulated by IRDC.

  Rufous Turtle Dove(Streptopelia orientalis meena)  
  Nafha Vineyards, Central Negev, Nov/12 ( Shahar Alterman)

Egyptian Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava pygmaea)
  • 2011 - 1, 1cy female, ringed, Tsor'a, 1/Dec/11 (Y. Kiat.). Photographed. 4th record.

  Egyptian Yellow Wagtail(Motacilla flava pygmaea)  
  Tsor'a, Dec/11 ( Yosef Kiat)

Pied Bush-chat (Saxicola caprata)
  • 2012 - 1, 1cy male, ringed, Yeruham lake, 18-22/Oct/12 (E. Shochat et al.). Photographed. 7th record.
  • 2013 - 1, male, Tirat Zvi, Bet She'an Valley, 31/May/13 (A. Rinot et al.). Photographed. 8th record.
  • 2014 - 1, 2cy male, Neot Smadar, S Negev, 26-30/Mar/14 (I. Simantov et al.). Photographed. 9th record.
  • Nice trio of records of this exciting species.

  Pied Bush-chat(Saxicola caprata)  
  Yeruham Lake, Oct/12 ( Yoav Perlman)

'vittata' Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)
  • 2012 - 1 male, ringed, KM20 Date Plantations, 24-31/Mar/12 (A. van Egmond, M. Guyt et al.). Photographed. First record of the distinctive form vittata.
  • 2012 - 1 male, Uvda Valley, S Negev, 26/Mar/12 (D. Forsman). Photographed. 2nd record of this distinctive form.
  • These birds arrived within an unprecedented influx of Pied and Cyprus Wheatears into southern Israel in March - April 2012.

  'vittata' Pied Wheatear(Oenanthe pleschanka)  
  KM20 Date Plantations, Mar/12 ( Yoav Perlman)

Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus)
  • 2012 - 1 male, JBO, 11/Apr/12 (A. Rinot et al.). Photographed.
  • 2013 - 1, Ein Gedi, 19/Nov/13 (D. Hirsch). Photographed. This species has become increasingly rare in recent decades.

Common Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)
  • 2012 - 1, ringed, IBRCE, 28/Aug/12 (Y. Lehnardt and I. Shanni et al.). Photographed. 8th record for Israel.
    • - 1, found dead, Herzliya, 9/Sep/12. Brought to NPA Wildlife Hospital. Photographed. 9th record for Israel
  • 2013 - 1, ringed, Yeruham lake, 6/Apr/13 (R. Livne et al.). Photographed. 10th record for Israel.
  • Still a ringer's tick, not seen in the field yet in Israel.

  Common Grasshopper Warbler(Locustella naevia)  
  IBRCE, Aug/12 ( Itai Shanni)

Paddyfield Warbler (Acrocephalus agricola)
  • 2008 - 1, ringed, IBRCE, 8/Oct/08 (N. Weiss et al.). Photographed. 6th record.
  • 2009 - 1, ringed, Ma'agan Michael, 2-3/Dec/09 (F. Argyle et al.). Photographed. 7th record.
  • 2012 - 1, ringed, IBRCE, 10/Sep/12 (J. Ramirez, M. G. Loben and I. Shanni). Photographed. 8th record.
  • 2013 - 1, ringed, Hula Valley Ringing Station, 6/Oct/13 (F. Argyle et al.). Photographed. 9th record.
  • Another classic ringer's tick.

Sykes's Warbler (Iduna rama)
  • 2008 - 1, ringed, IBRCE, 21/Sep/08 (N. Weiss et al.). Photographed. 4th record for Israel.

  Sykes's Warbler(Iduna rama)  
  IBRCE, Sep/08 ( Noam Weiss)

Dusky Warbler (Phylloscopus fuscatus)
  • 2012 - 1 ringed at Yeruham lake, 12/Oct/12 (R. Livne and Y. Zvik et al.). Remained till 14/Oct/12. Photographed. 5th record.
    • 1, Hulda Reservoir, 17/Oct/12 (E. Banker). Photographed. 6th record.

  Dusky Warbler(Phylloscopus fuscatus)  
  Yeruham lake, Oct/12 ( Yoav Perlman)

Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus)
  • 2012 - 1, Mt. Bar'on, Golan Heights, 18-31/Dec/12 (F. Moffat and T. Kahn et al.). Photographed. First for Israel. Very good winter record of this little stunner. Breeds very close, in Turkey.

  Firecrest(Regulus ignicapillus)  
  Mt. Bar'on, Golan Heights, Dec/12 ( Amir Ben-Dov)

Turkestan Shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides)
  • 2008 - 1 male, Elifaz, S Arava, 27/Apr/08 (A. Cohen, M. Clacey, T. Landsberger et al.). Photographed.
  • 2010 - 1 male, Elifaz, 3/Apr/10 (T. Krumenacker et al.). Photograhed.
    • - 1 male, Hatzor, Coastal Plains, 21/8 - 4/Sep/10 (M. Cohen et al.). Photographed.
  • 2012 - 1 male, Yotvata, 27/Mar/12 (J. van Oosten et al.). Photographed.

Rustic Bunting (Embriza rustica)
  • 2012 - 1, Uvda Valley, 21/Nov/12 (James P. Smith et al.). Photographed.

Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis)
  • 2013 - 1, 1cy male, Acre North Beach, 20/Dec/13 (D. Kotter and T. Khan et al.). Remained until 18/Feb/14 when apparently killed by Common Kestrel (Y. Baser). First record for Israel. Unfortunate end to the long visit of this very tame vagrant.

  Snow Bunting(Plectrophenax nivalis)  
  Acre North Beach, Dec/13 ( Yoav Perlman)

Section 2: Rejected Records
Sooty Tern (Onychoprion fuscatus) - 25/Jul/2013
  • Previous record of Sooty Tern goes back all the way to 1989, so this record is reviewed in the light of a mega sighting.
    Throughout the summer Bridled Terns are frequent and are daily recorded off Eilat's North beach, Sooty Tern is a common pitfall, and so such record requires a strict set of properties.
    Despite some good signs provided as part of the description, the single observer description of the sighting could not allow a conclusive ID of Sooty Tern, lacking diagnostic features such as the extensiveness of the white forehead.

Section 3: Re-evaluated Records under review
Lesser Sand-plover (Charadrius mongolus) - 10/Aug/00
  • 2000 - 1, KM20 Saltpans, Eilat, 10/Aug/00 (I. Shanni). Apparently belonged to the mongolus group. Second record for Israel. Photographed. Record from May 2001 (B. Granit and T. Ellery et al.) becomes third.
  • The record was not accepted as part of Bulletin 4, but following re-examination of the image and better understanding of seperation from Greater Sand-plover Charadrius leschenaultii record is now accepted as a C. mongolus.

  Lesser Sand-plover(Charadrius mongolus)  
  K20 salt pans, Eilat, Lesser Sand-plover (Itai Shanni)

Section 4: Records under review
Pin-tailed Snipe (Gallinago stenura) - 26/Oct/10
  • 1 at Gesher fishponds, 26/Oct/10 (A. Ben Dov).
  • From the field description and images it is impossible to rule out Common Snipe G. gallinago.

Committee Members: Avner Cohen, Barak Granit, Yoav Perlman.

(Numenius arquata) Acre shore, Sep.05

Yellow-legged Gull
(Larus michahellis) Ma'agan Michael, May.05

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