Red-fronted Serin, Syrian Serin and Serin Serin

3 serinus in November ’13

by Martin G

“During the last 6 weeks I have been coordinating an extensive Breeding Bird Atlas Project on Mt. Hermon. This is Israel’s highest peak, and our only alpine habitats are there. Therefore, 17 species breed only there in Israel. The structure of the bird community on Mt. Hermon closely resembles those of E Turkey and Iran.”
began Yoav P. in this post

hula 2013Jonathan Merav prepares the way for the ‘Perls of Wisdom’ to come from Yoav at this years festival.

One of the trips I previously missed out one as part of the Hula Bird Festival, was Mount Hermon. Israel’s only ‘alpine’ zone. Yoav’s inspired evening lecture spurred me on so very glad I went this time. 2 visits, one lead by Yoav and one with the ringing team got us some iconic birds. Not least the 2 serins:

Red-fronted or Fire-fronted Serin (more info from BirdLife hereand

Syrian or Tristram’s Serin (more info from BirdLife here). Syrian Serin is a particularly tricky species to see in its very limited range.


red fronted serin Hermon nov 13

red fronted serin b Hermon nov 13above. First winter Fire-fronted Serin, Serinus pusillus, Mount Hermon, 15th November 2013 by Martin Garner. One of the highlights of very early morning ringing and birding session. 3: 00 am departure! Black feathering is just beginning to break through the caramel coloured juvenile face, especially over lores and throat.

Red fronted serin amir ben dov 1

Red fronted serin amir ben dov 2above. First winter Fire-fronted Serin, Serinus pusillus, Mount Hermon, 15th November 2013. by Amir Ben Dov, Israel. This cheeky young bird appeared just after the nets had been taken down. It has mor caramel face than the trapped bird above. Amir had a patient wait to get these lovely shots as we packed up.


syrian ypSyrian Serin Serinus syriacus Mount Hermon, November 2012 by Yoav Perlman. This individual was photographed at last years Hermon trip as part of the Hula Valley Bird Festival.

syrian_adadult male Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus Mount Hermon, June 2010 by Yoav Perlman. Not always easy to age and sex. An article on Aging Syian Serin by Yael Lehnardt, Reuven Yusef and Gidon Perlman appeared in Dutch Birding only last year. You can read it here:

2012 Syrian Serin ageing

early on MOunt Hermon nov 13Setting up nets required very early start in clothing typical worn on British winters day. Yorkshire’s Mick Cunningham in the foreground had warm gloves on!

ringing on HermonA make shift ringing station was set at on the bob sleigh ride by the alpine resort. A seemingly incongruous establishment in what appeared to be montane/semi-desert habitat. The giant plastic snowman nearby seemed especially out-of-place. Yael is not normally so coy.

15th nov hermon riningersYael and the rest of the team were a great blessing to me and others in our questioning and learning!

So now I have seen all of the Western Palearctic serinus that spread over 2 pages of the Collins Bird Guide. With those 2 specialties I returned home to a much commoner and more widespread European Serin, within walking distance of my house at Flamborough. Found while I was away by the indefatigable Brett Richards, one of Flamborough’s most prolific  bird finders.

serin flam DA

Brett Richards flamb nov 2013above male European Serin Serinus serinus by Dave Aitken and Brett Richards, the bird’s finder in the viewing field at Millenium Wood, Flamborugh. I found another serinus species nearby- the Yellow-fronted Canary Serinus mozambicus, several years ago at South Landing. Most likely NOT a wild bird though :).

Canaries 2 Lanzarote Sept 2012

Canaries Lanzarote Sept 2012And here the most well known serinus. The Atlantic/ Island Canary Serinus canaria. The wild ancestor of the familiar cage-bird. With the Lanzarote Pelagic crew we found a roost of over 30 birds in Sept. 2012 in the middle of Lanzarote (2 photos above by MG). Which is amazing when you consider they don’t even occur on the island according to 2nd ed. Collins Bird Guides. Don’t believe everything you read 😉


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