Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Israel: 07 - 09.03.2018

Day 30 07.03.2018
After the outstanding experience of just one eagle yesterday, I was not overly optimistic that there were any huge numbers on the horizon. However, after eight hours in the mountains I can safely say that I would have even taken one eagle, or maybe one raptor. Were in not for the resident Desert Larks and the local White-crowned Black Wheatear I may have well lost my mind in the mountains today, it was not the finest shift I have ever endured.
But once free from the mountain I had a lovely afternoon snorkelling. For whatever reason the reef was alive with fish today; swarms of fry, shoals of Anthias and Damselfish, and Jellyfish littering the surface. What caused this sudden bloom of life I can only guess, but I would think it was something to do with the southerly winds, perhaps in combination with the recent rainfall.
-White-crowned Black Wheatear

Species List
High Mountain: Desert Lark, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Hooded Wheatear, Rock Martin, Brown-necked Raven, Collard Dove, Sand Partridge,

Day 31 08.03.2018
Once again I faced a long shift on the mountain, Low Mountain this time, and once again I was left with absolutely no migrating raptors. Its disappointing to have a string of days with no birds, but that’s the nature of visible migration. There was one highlight today; when a flock of around 15 Syrian Serins flew past us. They were already level with us when I picked them up and were very quickly gone, but still nice to see only my second flock.
After the mountains we did a bit of birding around Eilat, and whilst there was nothing exceptional there were a few bits and pieces. A nice flyover White-eyed Gull was probably the best view I have had of this species, although I was a little late on the camera. In the evening we had a smart Desert Hedgehog visit the field school.
-House Crow
-White-eyed Gull
-Desert Hedgehog

Species List:
Low Mountain: Striolated Bunting, Syrian Serin, Tristrams Starling, Spectacled Bulbul, Feral Pigeon, Laughing Dove, Common Swift, Pallid Swift,
Eilat: Baltic Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Caspian Gull, White-eyed Gull, Cormorant, Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Little Stint, Black-winged Stilt, Sandwich Tern, Palestine Sunbird, Spectacled Bulbul, House Crow, Spur-winged Plover, Red-throated Pipit, White Wagtail, House Sparrow, Reed Warbler,

Day 31 09.03.2018
Fortunately today in the mountain was a marked improvement on the previous days watch. That being said, the four Steppe Buzzards and five Black Storks were hardly the streams of birds that we should be expecting any day now. Other birds at High Mountain were also thin on the ground, with only a smart Isabelline Wheatear being of any note. Even the regular, showy, birds seemed to be keeping their distance.
After my watch had ended the day really began to pick up. We headed to K20 salt pans so we could have another look at the Lesser Flamingo. It was still present, associating with the ever-present flock of Greater Flamingos, but the change in light from my last visit meant I was able to vastly improve on the photos I had. The salt pans were alive with Ducks; Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Shelduck and Garganey, Whilst flocks of Black-headed and Slender Billed Gulls wheeled low over the water. There were also a few waders around, the highlight of these being two very nice White-tailed Lapwings,  the first for the season, of which we found both. There was much excitement after the first and we could hardly believe it when we saw the second.
On the way back we called in at K19, and whilst there was nothing new or exceptional it was fun to scan through the ducks looking for something different. As we left the site in near darkness we had a Wadi Racer snake and a Golden Jackal both within a few minutes of each other.
-Black Stork
-Lesser & Greater Flamingo
-Slender-billed Gull
-White-tailed Lapwing

Species List:
High Mountain: House Martin, Sand Martin, Black Stork, Steppe Buzzard, Desert Lark, Hooded Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear,
K20: Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier Steppe Buzzard, Slender-billed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Shelduck, Garganey, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, Common Redshank, Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Little Stint, Dunlin, Kentish Plover, Ringed Plover, Spur-winged Plover, White-tailed Lapwing, Black-winged Stilt, Collard Dove, Laughing Dove, White Wagtail, Barn Swallow, House Sparrow, Spectacled Bulbul,
K19: Teal, Garganey, Shoveler, Pintail, Cormorant, Little Grebe, Great-crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Marsh Harrier, Feral Pigeon, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Coot, 

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