Friday, 28 September 2012

Bill Baggs State Park, Miami, Sept 2012

I was pleased to be joined by a friend and colleague for today’s trip to Miami. He claims to be a birder and maintained that claim despite showing up for the trip without his binoculars. We set off early to Key Biscayne and stayed on the bus to its furthest point at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. For future reference, Bill Baggs SP doesn’t open until 08.00 and a barrier across the road barred the entrance. It was probably possible to access the shore via one of the side roads and stroll along the beach which has no access restrictions, but we chose to have a look around the area close to the gate where we found Osprey and Peregrine Falcon flying over and White Ibis, Blue Jay and Blue-grey Gnatcatcher in the trees along the appproach road before a ranger came to open the gate.

A cycling trail bears to the right from the main road. Our first Palm Warblers of the day were seen just along here. Northern Mockingbirds were proving to be very common today. Shortly we came upon a hot-spot that kept us entertained for quite some time. A Red-eyed Vireo crossed the path followed quickly by a Northern Parula that stopped and looked back.  In the low vegetation to the left of the path, a bold Prairie Warbler fed.

The main focus of our attention was a large leafy tree that was hosting a wild warbler party. There were not many individuals, but there was a good selection of species. Black-throated Blue Warblers were easy to pick out. American Redstarts gave a close look on the right side of the path. More Northern Parula and Red-eyed Vireos were seen and a Cape May Warbler showed nicely.
The path leads round to No Name Bay where a restaurant looks out across the anchorage. Barn Swallows swooped low across the water and a Belted Kingfisher flew over as S was looking away. White Ibis here were not as approachable as the ones further north at Crandon Park.

We had been having a discussion about the small falcons that were cruising back and forth. They looked like Merlins, but seemed to have a very languid flight rather the usual dashing habit of theirs. Sharing binoculars made it tricky to get one in view for a decent look and each time we did, we found we were looking at an American Kestrel. This shot cleared up any doubt though.

We headed south from the restaurant on the path that passes through the mangroves and S pointed out a bird ahead that had caught his attention. A quick glimpse showed it to be a cuckoo. At the time, I was only trying to differentiate between the Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos, but the bill was very sturdy and boldly marked black on the upper mandible and yellow on the lower. I had to look at the book and found that the Mangrove Cuckoo fitted perfectly.

Fresh from his triumph at spotting the cuckoo, S followed it up with a Common Nighthawk sitting out in the open. This was something that I had never seen and we were both very excited. A passing ranger was unimpressed however, “We get a lot of them”, he said, without even looking.

We continued on scouring the leaf litter for Swainson’s Warblers and Ovenbirds. Lots of Ovenbirds had been reported over the last few days on eBird and I was disappointed to have only seen one so far. Had the recent weather knocked them down last week and the pleasant day today allowed them to continue on their migration I wondered.  
Banded Dragonlet
We rounded the lighthouse at the tip of the key and included a Black-and-white Warbler as we passed. After checking and finding that there was nothing on the beach, we began a hot and sticky trudge back through the heart of the park along the Hiking Trail. It was now midday and the trail was quiet, though a Cooper’s Hawk flew across and a few chips from the Cardinals stopped us from time to time.

We found another hot-spot with more Red-eyed Vireos, Cape May Warblers Northern Parulas and a flighty Great-crested Flycatcher. It dawned on us that we were very close to the first warbler hot-spot, just under 300m south from the payment gate. It has been a very lean year for New World Warblers on Redgannet and I was beginning to wonder if the much lauded migration was just a myth. Finding 9 species of warbler today as well as a couple of other migrants has slight assuaged my doubts, but on finding the second party of warblers, it was noted that they were headed the wrong way! I am still not convinced that it isn't a conspiracy perpetuated by The Management at 10,000 Birds to fill the annual Feature Week 
Birds seen; 40

Magnificent Frigatebird 4, Double-crested Cormorant 15, Brown Pelican 7, Great Blue Heron 2, White Ibis 20, Black Vulture 5, Osprey 10, Cooper’s Hawk 3, American Kestrel 5, Merlin 2, Peregrine Falcon 2, Laughing Gull 30, Eurasian Collared Dove 6, Mourning Dove 2, Common Ground Dove 4, Mangrove Cuckoo 1, Common Nighthawk 1, Belted Kingfisher 1, Great-crested Flycatcher 1, Eastern Kingbird 4, White-eyed Vireo 1, Red-eyed Vireo 12, Blue Jay 12, Fish Crow 6, Barn Swallow 40, Blue-grey  Gnatcatcher 3, Northern Mockingbird 15, European Starling 8, Ovenbird 4, Black-and-white Warbler 1, Common Yellowthroat 2, American Redstart 3, Cape May Warbler 8, Northern Parula 6, Black-throated Blue Warbler 5, Palm Warbler 15, Prairie Warbler 1, Northern Cardinal 5, Boat-tailed Grackle 10, Baltimore Oriole 2.
The park comprises 400 acres of mangrove, scrub and beach at the southern tip of Key Biscayne, where the oldest structure in Greater Miami, the Cape Florida Lighthouse, may be found. Trails and picnic areas are well maintained and there is even a Cuban inspired restaurant at No Name Bay. An entry fee of $2 is administered through an envelope and receipt system by the entrance office. Bill Baggs State Park and all of its facilities were destroyed by Hurricane Andrew and closed for repair until late 1994 since when, more than 250 birds have been noted there.

We stopped quickly on Virginia Key on the way home to see if we could find any waders to boost our day list, but only managed a few Ruddy Turnstone, though S was able to catch up by seeing a Belted Kingfisher that he had missed earlier.
Bus B runs every 20 minutes from the Brickell Metro Rail Station at 10TH St. Its route takes it along Brickell Ave., before passing through the toll gates and crossing to Virginia Key and on to Key Biscayne. Use this bus for Crandon Park Gardens and Beach, but stay onboard to its furthest point for Bill Baggs State Park.
Visit the dedicated USA and Canada Page for more posts from Miami including Matheson Hammock, and Crandon Park.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

On the Beach, Miami, Sept 2012

Two of my colleagues had joined me for a walk around the gardens in Cranford Park and from there, we headed to the beach.

Judging by the size of the car parks at Crandon Park, the beach here is a very popular spot. It was quiet on this weekday morning, but a few more people arrived as the day wore on. A mixed flock of birds had found a quiet roosting spot at the edge of the ocean which was gently lapping at the sand.

As we approached, a strolling couple passed right through the flock which parted to allow them through. I was surprised by the tolerance of the birds as others passed along the tide-line at a closeness that would have surely set any other flock to flight.

My colleagues were able to take a paddle with Semi-palmated Plovers, Sanderlings and Piping Plovers and I was able to pick through the flock at my leisure.

An unfamiliar outline caught my eye among the small waders that had stayed on the dry sand further up the beach. The bill was far bigger than I would have expected to see on a plover and a quick check confirmed a red-letter Wilson’s Plover.
I turned my attention to the main flock by the tide-line that was mostly made up of Royal Terns, but also contained some Black Skimmers and a few Sandwich Terns.

The ocean was at its lowest ebb now and the wavelets were so weak that even the Sanderlings stopped for a while and just relaxed. With nothing to chase or be chased by, they took a little time to themselves, preening or bathing.

This was a wonderful experience to share with my two colleagues. It is very seldom that I get a chance to get a good look at such a very accommodating flock with at least 14 species (and a lifer) in it.  The moment of the day was being able to identify a Short-billed Dowitcher and being reasonably confident about it.

Birds seen; 16
Double-crested Cormorant 35, Brown Pelican 15, Black-bellied Plover 3, Wilson’s Plover 4, Semi-palmated Plover 35, Piping Plover 12, Willet 4, Ruddy Turnstone 1, Sanderling 70, Short-billed Dowitcher 4, Laughing Gull 35, Lesser Black-backed Gull 5, Royal Tern 60, Sandwich Tern 4, Black Skimmer 10, Northern Mockingbird 1

 Ebird does not thrive on vague or wide ranging geographical references in the same way that the delicate mechanism of a watch does not work to its full potential after being dropped into a bowl of dirty water. Thus, what might once have been a single post is split into four to accommodate the pin-pointy accuracy that eBird strives to achieve. By linking in the order as follows, it is possible to reconstruct the one parent post from its smaller offspring. Virginia Key, Bear Cut Preserve, Crandon Park Gardens and Crandon Park Beach.

Visit the dedicated USA and Canada Page for more posts from Miami including Matheson Hammock, and Crandon Park.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Crandon Park Gardens, Miami, Sept 2012

A couple of my colleagues had come to meet me during a visit to Key Biscayne. We met at Crandon Park and took a turn around the gardens there at Google Earth ref; 25°42'16.35"N 80° 9'23.63"W. A few exotics were in residence, including Indian Peafowl and Egyptian Geese. The provenance of the Sandhill Cranes is linked to a well-meaning bird fancier and rehabilitator which must also put the Cackling Goose in doubt.

The gardens were very quiet with no other visitors and the birds were quite approachable. White Ibis are used to being fed in the park I suspect and watched us carefully in case we dropped any titbits. Rumours of crocodiles encouraged us to leave a healthy distance between us and the banks of the water bodies in the gardens. A juvenile Little Blue Heron, unaware of the warnings, but possibly acting from experience, watched the water’s edge from the safety of the rail.

Tricoloured Heron also stayed back a little from the very edge. These are Florida birds and may have had this behaviour ingrained into them through a long line of ancestors for whom hunting close to the margins held a very real danger.
Close to the gate, an Anhinga dried its outstretched wings. Just above it, a nest held a very chick, still being sheltered by the other parent. Other Anhinga offspring seen this morning were much further advanced and out of the nest.

In a less-visited part of the gardens are some ornamental crocodiles, possibly put there to make nervous visitors jump as they come around the corner. They are quite realistic until you get close, but this Yellow-crowned Night Heron didn’t waste any attention on them.

The gardens give the impression that they may once have been a zoo or somesuch and there are plans afoot to bring a petting zoo to the site. A bus stop at the entrance to the car park services the B bus which runs between Brickell Metro Rail Station (Google Earth ref; 25°45'51.50"N 80°11'43.20"W) and Key Biscayne. A taxi takes around 10 minutes and costs around US$15-20.

Birds seen; 18
Pied-billed Grebe 2, Magnificent Frigatebird 2, Double-crested Cormorant 6, Anhinga 5, Brown Pelican 4, Great Egret 1, Little Blue Heron 1, Tricoloured Heron 1, Green Heron 1, Yellow-crowned Night Heron 2, White Ibis 40, Black Vulture 6, Cooper’s Hawk 1, Purple Gallinule 2, Common Gallinule 6, Belted Kingfisher 2, Northern Mockingbird 2, European Starling 20.

I have seen the light as far as general and vague trip lists are concerned. eBird likes to have pin-pointy submissions, so I am splitting the day up into different sections as preferred by Cornell. This outing started at Virginia Key, and continued on to BearCut Reserve, Crandon Park Gardens and Crandon Park Beach. As I have made a separate eBird submissions for each, I shall post separate trip summaries too. I will make links above as the other posts are published to join them all together.

 Visit the dedicated USA and Canada Page for more posts from Miami including Matheson Hammock, and Crandon Park.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Bear Cut Preserve, Key Biscayne, Miami, Sept2012

I have seen the light as far as general and vague trip lists are concerned. eBird likes to have pin-pointy submissions, so I am splitting the day up into different sections as preferred by Cornell. This outing started at Virginia Key, and continued on to Bear Cut Reserve, Crandon Park Gardens and Crandon Park Beach. As I have made a separate eBird submissions for each, I shall post separate trip summaries too. I will make links above as the other posts are published to join them all together.
From Virginia Key, I crossed the bridge onto Key Biscayne and into Bear Cut Preserve (Google Earth ref; 25°43'34.42"N 80° 9'13.06"W). A paved track passed through the bushes here, running parallel to the road. Magnificent Frigatebirds could still be seen flying over and a small flock of Brown Pelicans appeared to stall in flight as they crossed the path. Water in the middle of the preserve may have attracted them in, but something appeared to have made them think twice before coming in to land.

The path continues south-east through the mangroves and comes to a T-junction. To the left was the heart of the reserve and a viewing point. I did not have the time to explore here this morning as 2 of my colleagues would be meeting me shortly, so I turned to the right, towards the visitor centre.

A Prairie Warbler chipped from the mangroves and responded well to a pish and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was also very curious to see what was making those peculiar noises.

Black Vultures and White Ibis were seen in the top car park close to the visitor centre and a path here opens out onto the beach where a couple of Osprey were patrolling the waterline.

The access to Bear Cut Preserve from the visitors centre is on soft sand paths which made for very slow forward motion on my bicycle, so I abandoned that idea and regretted my earlier decision not to turn left on the paved path when I had the chance. There was a small “land train”,  (well more of a golf buggy with a carriage behind) at the VC that may be used for guided tours, but I was not able to make any enquiries.

Birds seen; 14

Magnificent Frigatebird 4, Brown Pelican 6, White Ibis 8, Black Vulture 15, Osprey 2, White-crowned Pigeon 2, Eurasian Collared Dove 3, Common Ground Dove 1, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher 1, Northern Mockingbird 4, European Starling 20, Prairie Warbler 1, Northern Cardinal 2, Boat-tailed Grackle 4.

The B bus which runs between Brickell Metro Rail Station (Google Earth ref; 25°45'51.50"N 80°11'43.20"W) and Key Biscayne every 20 minutes.

PS Don't you just hate over-exposed skies!
Visit the dedicated USA and Canada Page for more posts from Miami including Matheson Hammock, and Crandon Park.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Virginia Key, Miami, Sept 2012

It was only a very short cycle ride to Virginia Key (Google Earth ref; 25°44'36.23"N 80°10'25.73"W) and I had to wait for the light to improve before I could see what was scuttling along the shoreline just a few meters away. A fingernail of a moon chased Venus up from the eastern horizon, but was quickly overwhelmed by the sun as it began to rise.

The tide was high as a matter of luck and birds were pushed up onto the weeds at the water’s edge, very close to the cycle path. I was on the inshore side of the island and Biscayne Bay, the stretch of water between me and the mainland, lay glassy still in the early morning. Short-billed Dowitchers had to wait for better light, but the Sanderlings and Semi-palmated Plovers were easy to identify.

I waited with the birds until the sun’s light gave enough detail on the dowitchers before moving along. A little pale plover almost pitched me over the handlebars as I screeched to a stop. There are any number of glaring omissions on my lists and one of those gaping holes would be perfectly plugged with a Piping Plover. Despite occasional reports of Snowy Plovers, the bright orange legs left me no room for doubt.
Slightly duller and lighter, but still making it stand out, the legs of the Least Sandpiper are characteristic among the peeps.
As the sun climbed above the marina behind me a procession of Fish Crows made their way from their roosting areas (probably on Key Biscayne), heading towards the mainland. Laughing Gulls were most common among the Laridae, but a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls were perched on posts out in the bay. Magnificent Frigatebirds were seen as I left the island and crossed the bridge to Key Biscayne.

Close to the Miami Seaquarium, an Osprey perched in the top of a Casuarina tree. I had seen it fly in earlier and hoped that it might be using the tree as a vantage point to look for fish, but it was not looking very alert for prey.

PS, I do hate white skies.
Virginia Key is reached very easily from downtown Miami. It is a mere 15 minute cycle to the toll bridge on 26th St, then along the Rickenbacker Causeway and over the bridge towards Key Biscayne. The B bus runs between Brickell Metro Rail Station (Google Earth ref; 25°45'51.50"N 80°11'43.20"W) and Key Biscayne passing Virginia Key on the way.

Birds seen; 17
Magnificant Frigatebird 8, Double-crested Cormorant 15, Brown Pelican 8, Osprey 1, Semi-palmated Sandpiper 8, Piping Plover 1, Spotted Sandpiper 2, Willet 1, Whimbrel 1, Sanderling 30, Least Sandpiper 1, Short-billed Dowitcher 2, Laughing Gull 30, Lesser Black-backed Gull 6, Fish Crow 140, Boat-tailed Grackle 25, House Sparrow 12.
eBird likes to have pin-pointy submissions, so I am splitting the day up into different sections as preferred by Cornell. This outing started at Virginia Key, and continued on to Bear CutReserve, Crandon Park Gardens and Crandon Park Beach. As I have made a separate eBird submissions for each, I shall post separate trip summaries too. I will make links above as the other posts are published to join them all together.

Visit the dedicated USA and Canada Page for more posts from Miami including Matheson Hammock, and Crandon Park.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Snooping at Simpson's Park Hammock, Miami, Sept 2012

As per my wife’s instructions, I had removed all forms of identification from my pockets and ensured that there was no way that I could be linked back to her in the event of an incident. You see, she feels that creeping around in the dark with a head-torch is not the sort of behaviour that a grown man should be caught indulging in. Isn't it funny how so many people stand at the window with the net curtains pulled back while making phone calls. Has anyone else ever noticed that? These neighbourhoods also seem to have a high incidence of patrolling police who often stop and show an interest in my activities and sometimes even offer me a lift home.  

Simpson Park Hammock is just south of downtown Miami, close to the Brickell Metro Station. It is only about two blocks big and fenced on all sides with entrances at the north-east corner on SW15th Rd and via the main gate at SW17th Road (Google Earth ref; 25°45'30.61"N 80°11'41.36"W). I did not know that it was locked up tight every evening after dark, so I made an exploratory visit around the perimeter and adjacent suburbs, spotlighting the trees with my head-torch in the hope that I might detect the eye-shine of a nocturnal bird. The large bird that flew across SW17th Rd and back into the hardwood hammock had no white markings in the long pointed wings, eliminating all but for Chuck-will’s-widow.

The next afternoon, I made another very quick visit during daylight and found a small but charming preserve that opens between 08.00 and 17.00. But if rain or bad weather is forecast, the reserve will not be opened. Blue Jays picked among the leaf litter and a couple of Worm-eating Warblers passed through the mid-storey.

A path lined with crushed shells passes through the wood leading between the two gates and a small man-made pond. At the pond, a Cooper’s Hawk flushed from a low perch up to a higher position and looked back down. There was not much bird activity during this visit on a warm afternoon, but I am sure that it would be worth a look if you can get there early on a cooler day.
Birds seen; 5

Cooper’s Hawk 1, Chuck-will’s-widow 1, Blue Jay 2, Northern Mockingbird 1, Worm-eating Warbler 2.

Visit the dedicated USA and Canada Page for more posts from Miami including Matheson Hammock, and Crandon Park.

Monday, 10 September 2012

West Nile Virus, or jet-lag? Dallas, Sept 2012

Texas is in the grip of an outbreak of West Nile Virus. Dallas leads the field in cases of the mosquito-borne disease and the authorities are enacting plans to spray insecticide from the air to reduce the numbers of adult insects. Ignorance on my part prompted me to make enquiries about the virus and the risks. I found that it has recently become endemic across the country and is borne by mosquitoes that have ingested blood from infected birds. I weighed the risk against the consequences, took the normal precautions, kept calm and carried on.

After visiting White Rock Lake (a WNV hotspot), I am suffering from disorientation, loss of cognitive function and a stiff neck. How would I know if my symptoms are a result of the virus or just jet-lag coupled with a morning’s warbler-watching? 

Using the Blue Line from Downtown Dallas, brings you to White Rock Station. At this time of year the walk to the lake and around the northern section leave you with the sun in your eyes for much of the walk. I had set the Singing Bridge as my furthest limit. Not very far to walk, but the walk passed through the best warbler habitat that I knew of within easy reach. Plenty of Tufted Titmouse kept up a soundtrack for the morning with Carolina Chickadee and Northern Cardinal easily recognisable by ear.

The first warblers came before I reached the lake, but I struggled to make a confident ID at the scene. In the end, I settled for Nashville Warbler mixed with a couple of Yellow Warblers. More migrants came at the small bridge at the most north-westerly extreme of the lake (at Google Earth ref;  32°51'2.38"N 96°43'45.20"W). It bounces uncontrollably when anyone jogs across it. I guess that’s the purpose of joggers eh?

A Warbling Vireo and Wilson’s Warblers were seen here as they fed from the myriads of mosquitoes. The path tracks for over 12kms around the lake and is busy with joggers and cyclists.  I recognised a couple of cyclists going round for a second and even third time as I ambled slowly along in a clockwise direction towards the Singing Bridge. There was very little out on the water, just a Great Egret and a couple of Mallard. The trees and bushes along the path were similarly quiet in the heat of a Texan, late Summer’s day that pushed the mercury past 40°C.

From the Singing Bridge, you can see into a small lobe of the upper lake. Among the Mallards were a single American Wigeon and a female Northern Pintail with her long, slim, elegant neck. As I turned to set out home, I noticed a bird hawking from dead snags on the north shore. It was a flycatcher with a long streaming tail. As I watched, it shuffled on its perch, revealing rose-coloured flanks and under-wing. Today’s lifer is a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.

I retraced my steps along the path hoping to get a closer look at the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, but by the time I reached it, it had turned into an Eastern Kingbird. 

Back on the bouncy bridge Wilson’s Warblers, Yellow Warblers and Warbling Vireo were thrown into a panic as a young Cooper’s Hawk came through. I wondered if the biting insects were bothering it, as it continually wiped its bill across its legs and looked to be biting its own toes.

The cycle trail leading back past the station still held a couple of surprises with a Summer Tanager putting in a brief appearance and a White-eyed Vireo that responded to a quick playback. The cycle trail continues along White Rock Creek.

There were plenty of mosquitoes. Best practise advice is to avoid areas of standing water. Cover up with long sleeves and use insect repellent. Be especially vigilant around dusk.

Birds seen; 31
American Wigeon 1, Mallard 45, Northern Pintail 1, Double-crested Cormorant 6, Great Blue Heron 1, Great Egret 1, Snowy Egret 1, Cooper’s Hawk 2, White-winged Dove 3, Mourning Dove 15, Chimney Swift 6, Red-bellied Woodpecker 1, Downy Woodpecker 2, Eastern Kingbird 1, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 1, White-eyed Vireo 1, Warbling Vireo 2, Red-eyed Vireo 1, Blue Jay 4, American Crow 4, Carolina Chickadee 8, Tufted Titmouse 40, Northern Mockingbird 12, European Starling 2, Nashville Warbler 3, Yellow Warbler 6, Wilson’s Warbler 4, Summer Tanager 1, Northern Cardinal 6, Great-tailed Grackle 4, House Sparrow 8.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Harkon Park, Tel Aviv, Sept 2012

Park HaYarkon is a 30 minute walk from the new hotel in Tel Aviv. The route took me past a couple of green spots which brought (white-headed) Eurasian Jays, a Lesser Grey Shrike and my first warblers of the morning. Common White-throats shared a bush near the railway station with Palestine Sunbirds and a White-spectacled Bulbul. Many of the small parks in Tel Aviv are home to groups of homeless people who have made camps and live in the parks. In my experience, they have not caused me any problem further than needing to keep an eye on my foot placement when walking near cover.

 A number of bridges cross the Harkon River and I turned right, heading away from the sports lawns at the Mediterranean end of the park. This took me towards the low sun and next time, I may stay on the southern bank and cross the river at a footbridge further upstream. This will still take me east towards the sun, but changes the angle slightly to ease tired, gritty eyes.

 A Black-crowned Night Heron was seen on a post jutting out across the river and shortly afterwards, I came across the first of around 20 Kingfishers from 3 species.

Pied Kingfishers seem to go out of their way to be obvious. They perch on prominent snags and if that were not enough, they hover flamboyantly over the water before plunging in to catch a fish. The Common Kingfisher rivalled the Pied in number, but were far more discrete which makes me think that they are probably even more common.

The White-throated Kingfisher sits quietly in the shade of a tree and often flushes before you see it. This one was acting out of character by sitting out in the open and allowing me to approach closely.

There is a small reconstructed wetland on the south side of the river as it passes the west end of the lake. A causeway crosses the river here and it proved to be a very prolific spot for kingfishers. A young night heron posed on the concrete here and Palestine Sunbirds chased each other through the reeds.

In an orange grove next to the wetland a pair of Masked Shrikes flushed before I had a chance to get a good look. While I stalked around the small fruit trees, a European Turtle Dove was added to the list.

In the weir pool, a Common Sandpiper was shooed away by the Egyptian Geese that I assume have been introduced along with the Muscovy Ducks.   

Monk Parakeets also live in the park on alien visas and have built huge communal nests that can be seen in many of the trees around the exotic bird attraction. By the lake, an insistent call drew me to a Rosy-faced Lovebird, who had probably escaped from the collection.

A single tern flew back and forth across the lake. It could have been any of the Childonis spp until it settled on a post and I decided upon Whiskered Tern.
I had seen a couple of warblers that I had tentatively identified as Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, though they were hard to split from the similar and reportedly common Acrocephalus spp. It was disappointing not to find more warblers which I really had been expecting to see on return migration. The only others being Willow Warblers seen near the lake.

One of my target birds for the day however was seen well when a Syrian Woodpecker flew across my path and landed in clear view.

Birds seen;

Egyptian Goose 6, Mallard 60, Little Egret 8, Cattle Egret 3, Black-crowned Night Heron 30, Common Moorhen 4, Spur-winged Plover 8, Common Sandpiper 5, Whiskered Tern 1, Oriental Turtle-dove 1, Eurasian Collared-dove 15, Laughing Dove 30, Rose-ringed Parakeet 20, Common Kingfisher 8, White-throated Kingfisher 4, Pied Kingfisher 8, Eurasian Hoopoe 3, Syrian Woodpecker 1, Red-backed Shrike 1, Lesser Gray Shrike 1, Masked Shrike 5, Eurasian Jay 3, Hooded Crow 50, Barn Swallow 20, Great Tit 6, White-spectacled Bulbul 15, Willow Warbler 2, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler 3, Graceful Prinia 3, Greater Whitethroat 2, Eurasian Blackbird 2, Common Myna 100, Palestine Sunbird 12, House Sparrow 60.

Being the Sabbath, the park was very busy from early morning with joggers and cyclists taking up most of the path. As it became hotter, the more active park users gave way to picnickers and walkers. There was only one refreshment stall in the park, close to the exotic bird exhibit. It was a very hot day and I wished that I had brought more water. Toilets had sinks with tap water, but enquiries led me to believe that the Israelis prefer bottled water to tap water. There may be a few mobile vendors in the week, but don't rely on that presumption.