Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Israel: 19 - 21.03.2018

Day 42 19.03.2018
After a very rewarding day off I once again found myself at Low Mountain. The high numbers of the previous week had somewhat subsided but there were still a few raptors moving, and a good variety again. I had three Pallid Harriers, one of which was a stunning adult male, plus two Booted Eagles; one dark and one light phase bird. Then there was the usual; Black Kites, Steppe Eagles and Steppe Buzzards. There was a very nice pair of Trumpeter Finches in the valley below as well.
Because it was a much slower day we left the mountain a little early, giving me enough time to head into Holland Park and there try once again to see the Semi-collard Flycatcher. This time though I finally struck lucky with a very smart male showing for just a few minutes in late evening light before flying off into the park where I was unable to refind it.
-Egyptian Vulture & Black Kite
-Semi-collard Flycatcher

Species List:
Low Mountain: Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Steppe Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Striolated Bunting, Tristrams Starling, Lesser Whitethroat, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Pale Crag Martin, Sand Partridge, Egyptian Vulture, Pallid Swift,
Holland Park: Afghan Babbler, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, Semi-collard Flycatcher, Quail, Sand Partridge, Palestine Sunbird, Spectacled Bulbul, Little Green Bee-eater, Steppe Buzzard, Laughing Dove, Collard Dove, Feral Pigeon,

Day 43 20.03.2018
The High Mountain was once again poorer than the previous day, with ‘only’ 1000 Buzzards and a handful of other species. A pale phase Booted Eagle was always a highlight and an Egyptian Vulture was also nice. Sadly most of the birds we had were very distant and as a result the day felt very slow after the last week of excellent passage.
As a result of the passage being slow we were able to get off a little early and we headed into Holland Park again. There were small numbers of common migrants still but nothing exceptional until we had almost left. I was waiting near the road for the other guys to catch up when I spotted a raptor heading towards me. Within seconds of me picking it up I could see that once again I had before me a Crested Honey Buzzard, only this time much lower. If only the light had been good, the bird flew so close over me, it was an amazing encounter as it checked me out as it flew over. We saw it a couple more times before it seemed to roost for the night. An Arctic Skua flew over, which also a new Israel tick! What an excellent end to the day.
-Crested Honey Buzzard

Species List:
High Mountain: Desert Lark, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Hooded Wheatear, Egyptian Vulture, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Steppe Buzzard, Black Kite,
Holland Park: Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Chiffchaff, Sardinian Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Palestine Sunbird, Little Green Bee-eater, Spectacled Bulbul, Sand Partridge, Collard Dove, Laughing Dove, Arctic Skua, Crested Honey Buzzard,

Day 44 21.03.2018
High Mountain was once again my destination for the day. The morning was sluggish despite a promising start, but at around 15:30 the sky absolutely exploded with birds! Three streams of birds were travelling overhead, with a few thousand Steppe Buzzards and Kites passing in just two hours. There were moments in the passage where there were just too many birds streaming through the scope. It was some of the best passage I have got to witness since arriving. Other birds included 19 Marsh Harriers, a couple of Egyptian Vultures and my first ever European Honey Buzzard. I was scoping through hundreds of Steppe Buzzards, when a close soaring bird caught my eye. It was so barred it had to be a Honey Buzzard, although I was initially skeptical, but the tail clearly confirmed it. It then turned to show dark carpals, European Honey, the first of the season and an extremely early record.

Species List:
High Mountain: Marsh Harrier, Black Kite, Steppe Buzzard, European Honey Buzzard, Steppe Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Osprey, Egyptian Vulture, Desert Lark, Black Stork, Hooded Wheatear, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Pallid Swift, Alpine Swift, Eurasian Crag Martin,

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