Monday, 26 February 2018

Israel 26 - 28.02.2018

Day 21 26.02.2018
After a couple of days in Low Mountain I now found myself back in the wonderful High Mountain. I expected a day lacking birds, but that was not the case. There was a slow trickle of Steppe Eagles and Steppe Buzzards, but at 15.00 there was a sudden rush of 200 Eagles. In amongst them were 2 Imperial Eagles, a single Greater Spotted Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Barbary Falcon, Marsh Harrier and a few Black Storks. Then around the watchpoint itself there was a Blue Rock Thrush, and important species for me as I continue the trend of seeing this species in every country I have birded in. After the mountains, which was late in the afternoon, we checked out a flooded area near the centre. Whilst there were not many birds, there were hundreds of dragonflies; Lesser Emperor and Globe Skimmer but far too active to pick out anything else from them.
-Black Stork
-Blue Rock Thrush
-White-crowned Black Wheatear

Species List:
High Mountain: Steppe Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Steppe Buzzard, Barbary Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Common Swift, Alpine Swift, Barn Swallow, Rock Martin, Blue Rock Thrush, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Hooded Wheatear, Sand Partridge, Black Stork, Cormorant,

Day 22 27.02.2018
It’s time for another day off. This time I decided to head down to the sanctuary for the morning ringing, before then heading out to Yotvata to hopefully look through some larks and pipits. The mornings ringing was steady if not exceptional. We caught three Bonelli’s Warblers, one of which I ringed, but sadly they were all taken for showing before I was able to take any pictures. We also caught a Graceful Prinia, a Collard Dove, a few Savi’s Warblers, a Blackcap and the usual Lesser Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs. The Lesser White-fronted Goose was back in the park, but only in the early hours, before it flew off.
We left the park early afternoon and arrived at Yotvata for 15:00. We spent a lot of time looking through bushes for migrants. There were a lot of birds but most of them were Chiffchaff or Lesser Whitethroat. I did find a superb male Cyprus Warbler though, which was probably the highlight of the afternoon. There were a lot of larks and pipits as before; Water and Red-throated Pipits, and Crested, Short-toed and Skylark. It was pleasant birding, with thousands of Hirundines and Swifts going overhead making for quite the spectacle.
The plan was, as I had suggested to avoid getting the bus back, that the rest of the team would come up meet us after their mountain shift, so that we could look for nightjars. We had success on that front, with two Egyptian Nightjars performing very well hunting across the fields, In addition, we also had a few Stone-curlews running around along the side of the road, showing unbelievably well. On the mammal front we had some success as well; Red Fox and Desert Hedgehog were the only ones we were able to confirm but there were other eye reflections that we were unable to pin to a species.
-Lesser White-fronted Goose
-Savis Warbler
-Graceful Prinia

Species List:
Eilat Bird Sanctuary: Blackcap, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Savis Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Graceful Prinia, Egyptian Goose, Teal, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Chiffchaff, Marsh Harrier, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Ring-necked Parakeet, Palestine Sunbird, Tristrams Starling, Laughing Dove, Collard Dove, House Crow, Spectacled Bulbul, Marsh Sandpiper, Redshank, Black-winged Stilt, Spur-winged Plover, White Wagtail, Cormorant, Blackcap, Little Green Bee-eater, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Grey Heron, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow,
Yotvata: Cyprus Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, Palestine Sunbird, Tristrams Starling, Spectacled Bulbul, Little Green Bee-eater, Eurasian Skylark, Crested Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Red-throated Pipit, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, White Stork, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Common Kestrel, Stone-curlew, Feral Pigeon, Collard Dove, Laughing Dove, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Trumpeter Finch, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Rock Martin, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Egyptian Nightjar, Red Fox, Desert Hedgehog,

Day 23 28.02.2018
I made a return to the mountains today, specifically High Mountain, with optimism that it would be a good day of passage. Sadly I could not have been more wrong, as we struggled to muster even six Steppe Eagles. That was until we were about to leave, when we picked out a couple of birds unbelievably high, only to then find more birds moving so high you could barely see them in the scope. The time between was passed by throwing rocks or enjoying the company of at least eight Nubian Ibex, including a mother with three kids.
We had finally got off the mountain when, and was looking forward to a relaxing evening  by the beach, when the phone rang that another of the volunteers had found a Black Bush Robin round the corner from the field school, in the location now known as the bushes of Liebzi. Those of us at the field school dashed round in time to see the bird perform incredibly well for about an hour before it took off into a garden. They really do live up the hype, what a stunning bird.
-Lesser Emperor
-Nubian Ibex
-Black Bush Robin

Species List: 
High Mountain: Trumpeter Finch, Collard Dove, Feral Pigeon, Steppe Eagle, Brown-necked Raven, Hen Harrier, Steppe Buzzard, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Hooded Wheatear, Desert Lark, Nubian Ibex, Lesser Emperor,
Bushes of Liebzi: Black Bush Robin, Blackstart, Little Green Bee-eater, Collard Dove, Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, Laughing Dove, House Sparrow,

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