Saturday, 10 February 2018

Israel: 08 - 10.02.2018

Day 04 08.02.2018
High mountain raptor viewpoint was the last place I still needed to visit of what are going to be my regular haunts over the next couple of months. It was another decent day of raptor passage, with around 30 Steppe Eagles seen, most of which flew straight overhead. There were also some rather tame passerines around, all you had to do was put out a little water and they arrived. First of these was a pair of Desert Larks that visited a few times during the day. Then a young White-crowned Black Wheatear and Isabelline Wheatear, although neither hung around, and then a smart Hooded Wheatear right at the end of my watch. There was also a Nubian Ibex on the hillside when I arrived in the morning, my second mammal of the trip.
Once I had returned from the mountain I went off in search of a Cyprus Warbler in a nearby wadi. It was fairly easy to locate, and showed fairly well, but it did not allow us to get close.
-Scrub Warbler
-Steppe Eagle
-Desert Lark
-Hooded Wheatear
-Cyprus Warbler

Species List:
High Mountain: White-crowned Black Wheatear, Desert Lark, Steppe Eagle, Isabelline Wheatear, Pallid Swift, Scrub Warbler, Feral Pigeon, Brown-necked Raven, Sand Partridge,
Eilat Field Centre: Cyprus Warbler, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Sand Partridge, Spectacled Bulbul, Blackstart, Laughing Dove, Collard Dove, 

Day 5 09.02.2018
I was left at something of a loss for my first day off. With no vehicle I did not really know what to do. In the end I caught the bus into Eilat, and then walked to the bird sanctuary via North Beach. Most of the species I saw were common species but it gave me a chance to take some photos of them, as well as pick up a few ticks for the trip; Marsh Sandpiper, Ringed Plover. A sub-adult Peregrine was nice, harassing Black-winged Stilts on the salt pans.
Once in the bird park I caught up with some of the other volunteers and together we did a survey of the park area. After dipping on the first occasion, it was nice to see the Caspian Stonechat, although it was somewhat distant. The bird was extremely active along the edge of a reedbed, but its frequent hunting meant it showed off its tail quite a bit.
By early afternoon it was far too hot for anything else, so we headed to the beach to cool off. Eilat is well known for its coral reef, and we were not in a coral reef area, but the fish were absolutely amazing. There were Tangs, Surgeonfish and Parrotfish, as well as Groupers, Snappers and an Octopus, the first one I have ever seen. It was absolutely amazing and really looking forward to getting back in the water.
-Laughing Dove
-Crested Lark
-Marsh Sandpiper
-Little Green Bee-eater

Species List:
Eilat & North Beach: Tristrams Starling, Ringed Plover, Pied Kingfisher, Western Reed Egret, Redshank, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Common Sandpiper, Sparrowhawk, Greenshank, House Crow, Spectacled Bulbul, Spur-winged Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Peregrine, Graceful Prinia, House Sparrow, Crested Lark, Laughing Dove, Collard Dove, Feral Pigeon, White-eyed Gull, Little Green Bee-eater, Globe Skimmer, Lesser Emperor,
Bird Park: Marsh Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Temminck’s Stint, Greater Flamingo, Grey Heron, Great White Egret, Citrine Wagtail, Barn Swallow, European Stonechat, Caspian Stonechat, Little Green Bee-eater, House Sparrow, Spectacled Bulbul, Coot, White Wagtail, Cormorant, Redshank, Ruff, Chiffchaff, Palestine Sunbird, Graceful Prinia, Laughing Dove, Collard Dove, Blackstart, Spur-winged Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Black-headed Gull, 

Day 7 10.02.2018
With the number of counters way exceeding the number of raptors, I was blessed with another day off today. It was just as well, as I arranged with the Danish volunteers to go with a local birder to some of the more distant sites away from Eilat, allowing me to connect with a number of the species that would otherwise be tricky.
First call was for a male Red-rumped Wheatear, which we found with ease. The bird showed well but was not overly approachable. A new Wheatear for me, plus it’s always a bonus to see the first as an adult male. Next port of call was an area with potential for desert birds, where we had a few nice trip ticks. We moved on mid-morning to a site for Temmincks Lark, just north of Ovda. In the end we had a flock of over 50 birds. One of the highlights of the trip so far, they were really smart birds. Also in the area were Bar-tailed Larks, and my final Sandgrouse species for a complete Collins page; Spotted. There were large flocks of Spotted Sandgrouse but they were typically difficult to approach, until one flock landed near the road just as we were driving off.
On the way back we called off at the Yotvata farmland, but with it being the middle of the day there was very little in the way of birdlife. A couple of nice Spanish Sparrows and Red-throated Pipit were about the best that we could manage in our whistle-stop tour of the area.
For the remainder of the afternoon I went back to the beach for some more snorkelling. The fish were amazing once again, including my first every Clownfish (Twoband though, not true clownfish), as well as a host of other awesome fish; Triggerfish, Lizardfish, Trevally, Butterflyfish and the real highlight; a Yellowmouth Moray Eel. It’s been quite a day.
-Red-rumped Wheatear 
-Temminck's Lark
-Bar-tailed Lark
-Mourning Wheatear
-Spotted Sandgrouse
-Spanish Sparrow

Species List:
Ovda & Adjacent Areas: Red-rumped Wheatear, Asian Desert Warbler, Desert Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Mourning Wheatear, Tawny Pipit, Crested Lark, Greenfinch, Linnet, Scrub Warbler, Short-toed Eagle, Spotted Sandgrouse, Temminck’s Lark, Desert Lark, Bar-tailed Lark, Afghan Babbler, Trumpeter Finch, Brown-necked Raven, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Spectacled Bulbul, Blackstart, Black Redstart, House Martin, Rock Martin, Barn Swallow,
Yotvata: White Stork, Spanish Sparrow, Bluethroat, Red-throated Pipit, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Barn Swallow, Crested Lark, Common Skylark, European Stonechat, 

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