Saturday, 10 March 2018

Israel: 10 - 12.03.2018

Day 33 10.03.2018
Final day in the mountains before my next day off was a vast improvement on what had been before during the week. Instead of empty skies, there was roughly an hour in which there was a slow but steady stream of Steppe Eagles and Buzzards. Alongside them was the occasional Short-toed Eagle, so it felt like things were in motion again, with birds coming and moving through.
To add to that feeling was the discovery of a Caspian Plover at Yotvata. It was a long day before I got the chance to go up and see it, but as it turned out it was well worth the wait. The bird showed so well beyond imagination, down to less than ten meters away. In addition to the Plover there was also a nice flock of Bimaculated Larks to look at, which were less showy but still awesome to see. Since it was evening when we finally got there we decided to linger and once again search for the eagle owl present in the area. Whilst we were unsuccessful with the owl, we got something much more exciting with Arabian Wolf. It casually strolled alongside the torchlight in the south field, a large open dry area, allowing us to get nice views. A really unexpected bonus to the day!
-Striolated Bunting
-Caspian Plover
-Bimaculated and Short-toed Larks

Species List: 
Low Mountain: Striolated Bunting, Tristrams Starling, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, House Martin, Rock Martin, Barn Swallow, Steppe Eagle, Steppe Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Spectacled Bulbul,
Yotvata: Hen Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Caspian Plover, Hoopoe, Bimaculated Lark, Crested Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, White Stork, Isabelline Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Red-throated Pipit, Water Pipit, Common Swift, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Little Green Bee-eater, Collard Dove, Laughing Dove, Red Fox, Arabian Wolf,

Day 34 11.03.2018
After nearly a week solid in the mountains I finally had the day off, and with the success of the previous evenings birding at Yotvata, that’s where I decided to go once again. The birding was good but hard work. With the exception of Lesser Whitethroats there were no big numbers of migrants. That being said, I did get two warbler lifers today; Eastern Orphean Warbler and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. Sadly neither posed for photos but the field views were adequate enough to confirm the identification of both.
My main aim for the day was to photograph the larks and pipits that were around, but sadly I struggled to get close to most of them. A few individuals made life a bit easier, but the Bimaculated Larks, the ones I really wanted, were not having any of it unfortunately. The Yellow Wagtails were much better behaved,  and I even had a race tick; Superciliaris, possibly the most beautiful race I have yet seen. All the while there were a good passage of Swifts and Swallows overhead, with a few Lesser Kestrels, Hen Harriers and a stunning male Pallid Harrier also around.
And then in the evening to cap it all off, Frank offered to do a night drive around to see if we could find the Pharaohs Eagle Owl that had eluded us the past couple of times. And we struck gold, as the owl showed very well right in front of the car, and then on the ground not far from us. It really was a stunning beast and well worth waiting for. We also had more excellent views of Egyptian Nightjar, sat right on the road in front of us.
-Eastern Bonelli's Warbler
-Superciliaris Yellow Wagtail
-Red-throated Pipit
-Short-toed Lark
-Lesser Kestrel
-Cretzschmar’s Bunting
-Spanish Sparrows
-Pharaohs Eagle Owl

Species List:
Yotvata: Hen Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Steppe Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, White Stork, Pharaohs Eagle Owl, Egyptian Nightjar, Little Green Bee-eater, Collard Dove, Laughing Dove, Feral Pigeon, Caspian Plover, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, House Martin, Pale Crag Martin, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Red-throated Pipit, Water Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Tawny Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Bimaculated Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Eurasian Skylark, Crested Lark, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Black Redstart, Bluethroat, Spectacled Bulbul, Palestine Sunbird, Afghan Babbler, House Crow, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Red Fox, Cape Hare,

Day 35 12.03.2018
After the relief of getting out birding, once again I found myself at High Mountain. However, it was not the chore that it had been the previous week. Today I got to witness Black Stork migration to the full with 700 birds migrating overhead. Add in the 800 Steppe Buzzards and a mixture of other raptors and it really began to feel like the migration of raptors had begun to kick off. Alpine and Little Swift passage was also nice to see, mixed in with flocks of Common and Pallid Swift.
After my success the previous evening, tonight the rest of the team wanted to try for the Pharaohs Eagle Owl, so we made our way back to Yotvata for sunset. We arrived just before so once again could look at the Bimaculated Larks and male Pallid Harrier. After dark we followed a similar circuit to the one Frank and I had success with before, and once again it proved successful as the Owl as sat in the same place, showing just as well.
-Black Storks
-Bimaculated Lark
-Pharaohs Eagle Owl

Species List:
High Mountain: Egyptian Vulture, Steppe Eagle, Steppe Buzzard, Black Kite, Short-toed Eagle, Black Stork, Alpine Swift, Little Swift, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, House Martin, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Hooded Wheatear, Desert  Lark, Brown-necke Raven,
Yotvata: Hen Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Lesser Kestrel, White Stork, Pharaohs Eagle Owl, Collard Dove, Laughing Dove, Feral Pigeon, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, House Martin, Pale Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Red-throated Pipit, Water Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Bimaculated Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Red Fox, Cape Hare, Desert Hedgehog,

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