Day 10 14.02.2018
Once again I had the pleasure of a day off, and I was for than ready for it after yesterday’s disappointment. I decided to travel up to Yotvata, but since I could not drive I would have to take the bus, which turned out to be a very simple task. Anton came with me, so I had an extra pair of eyes for our birding.
We arrived at seven and made our way straight through to the fields to look for Larks and Pipits, whilst targeting Desert Finch. We met Itai, one of the local birders associated with the IBRCE. He gave us some information on where to look for birds, although he did not stop long himself. Despite not stopping long, he did pick up a small flock of Desert Finches, our number one target. The flock included a few nice males, and although they were very flighty we were able to get fairly close.
Next up we headed to the dunes to the NE of the field for Dead Sea Sparrow, where we were told they might be. We found them with relative ease, although they were really not showy. In the scrub there we also found Bluethroat and Wryneck, the latter being the first of the season.
We spent the rest of our time birding the large circular field in the centre of the site. We filtered through the larks; producing Skylark, Crested and our first Greater Short-toed Lark. Next we looked through the pipits; Red-throated, Tawny and Water. The latter of these we found a number of rather bleached birds which gave us a few headaches, but after sending photos to a few birders it’s clear none of them referred to the buff-bellied pipit which was on site. We also flushed two Quail from the field; also the first of the season. All the while overhead was a decent passage of Hirundines and Swifts; including my first Red-rumped Swallow and Alpine Swift of the trip. Raptor wise, I finally saw my first ever male Hen Harrier, unbelievable given how close I live to perfect habitat! We headed back at 13:00, after a very enjoyable days birding.
-Dead Sea Sparrow
Yotvata: Tristrams Starling, Little Green Bee-eater, Spanish Sparrow, Spur-winged Plover, White Stork, Isabelline Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, Water Pipit, Eurasian Skylark, European Stonechat, Red-throated Pipit, Trumpeter Finch, Linnet, Sand Martin, Hen Harrier, Desert Finch, Hoopoe, Black-headed Wagtail, Dead Sea Sparrow, House Martin, Wryneck, Sardinian Warbler, Quail, Greater Short-toed Lark, Tawny Pipit, Common Kestrel, Grey-headed Wagtail, Red-rumped Swallow, Alpine Swift, Steppe Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Steppe Buzzard, Palestine Sunbird, Spectacled Bulbul, Collard Dove, House Sparrow, Barn Swallow, Crested Lark, Rock Martin, Common Swift, Laughing Dove, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Feral Pigeon, Graceful Prinia, Pallid Swift, White Wagtail, Brown-necked Raven, House Crow,
Day 11 15.02.2018
After an excellent day off yesterday, today I was back on raptor counting duty in the mountains. I was positioned at Low Mountain, which turned out to be the spot for the year’s best day of Steppe Eagle movement so far. In total I counted over 1700 Eagles migrating northwards, sometimes in flocks exceeding 100 birds. It was an amazing spectacle, incredible to witness. Among the rafts of Eagles were a few Black Storks, my first of the trip, and in total I probably recorded 30 of these. The Hooded Wheatear and Blackstart continue to show stupidly well, while overhead was a nice passage of House Martins and Swifts. It was a fantastic day, so many birds all the time.
Low Mountain: Sand Partridge, Feral Pigeon, Trumpeter Finch, Blackstart, Spectacled Bulbul, Tristrams Starling, Rock Martin, House Sparrow, Hooded Wheatear, Common Swift, House Martin, Steppe Eagle, Common Kestrel, Black Stork, Sparrowhawk, Hen Harrier,
Day 12 16.02.2018
As a result of the rest of the raptor counting team being called out to be involved in a survey of desert birds, I was once again in charge of Low Mountain. I was naturally a bit disappointed but did not miss much in the desert, and the mountain was once again an excellent place to be. There were not the numbers of birds that there had been the previous day, but the 500 Steppe Eagles I had today were mainly overhead, allowing for much better views. The feather detail and moult pattern was far more visible than in the rising columns of birds I had seen yesterday. Other birds were once again thin on the ground. An Alpine Swift was the only bonus overhead, and the Hooded Wheatear once again showed like a porn star, largely as a result of my spilt lunch!
Low Mountain: Feral Pigeon, Blackstart, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Common Swift, Collard Dove, House Martin, House Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Steppe Eagle, Rock Martin, Spectacled Bulbul, Steppe Buzzard, Sand Partridge, Hooded Wheatear, Pallid Swift, Alpine Swift, Laughing Dove,