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Shikra (Accipiter badius), Kfar Ruppin, 14/NOV/05

Barak Granit

On Monday 14/11/05 I went birding in the Beit-Shean Valley. Until after noon I had already quite a good day which included 8 Sociable Plovers, 11 Ruddy Shelduck, 6 Oriental Skylarks, 1 Calandra Lark, 6 Richard's Pipits, 2 Citrine Wagtails, 2 Siberian Stonechats, and many more birds.

I went checking some alfalfa field north to Kfar Rupin, and from a distance I located a small raptor which was perching on a dry field. Naturally I thought it was a Merlin, so without looking thoroughly I drove with my car closer to be able to get some photos. When I got closer I could see of course that it was an accipiter, but some thing was very strange about it - it had longitudinal delicate striking which covered the breast and the belly (on belly - teardrop shape), though the bars were restricted only to the belly sides, so basically it resembled juvenile Levant Sparrowhawk, but, not less important - the iris was bright yellow, and not dark as would be in Levant. Also, the bird showed a clear thin Gular Stripe. All in all this strange combination of features resembling both Levant and Eurasian Sparrowhawks, hasn't yet set solidly in my mind.

I immediately took a photograph, which apparently was the only photo I took. A second later the bird took-off with a prey in its talons, and flew low over the field, getting a way from me eastwards. It was than mobbed by a kestrel and I could see it was much smaller than the Kestrel. The size of the bird was like a male Eurasian Sparrowhawk. When it flew I could see that the wing did not give the pointed wing-tip impression of Levant Sparrowhawk.

I looked at my camera screen to see the bird in details. I have realized I had photographed something unusual, so I called Ido Tzurim and soon we realized that 1st winter Shikra Accipiter badius was the best possibility. However we couldn't be certain until other accipiter species that hasn't been recorded yet in the WP, would be ruled out. That problem was solved more or less at home. I have sent the photographs to the IRDC and all agreed it was indeed a Shikra.

This is the second record of Shikra for Israel and the WP outside its breeding range in Azerbaydzhan. The first one was caught and ringed at Eilat ringing station on 16/4/1987 by Zeev and Edna Gorney-Labinger.

Last seen: 14/Nov/05

 Shikra (Accipiter badius) 
 Kfar Ruppin, 14-NOV 

(Saxicola torquata) Negev, Oct.05

Red-necked Phalarope
(Phalaropus lobatus) Ma'agan Michael, Oct.05

Oriental Skylark
(Alauda Gulgula) Mitzpe Ramon, Oct.05
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