Friday, 23 March 2018

Israel: 22 - 24.03.2018

Day 45 22.03.2018
My first of two days off in quick succession was spent with Dan touring a few sites to hopefully rack up a few of the species that she had not seen yet. Sadly we did not have much luck, Seifim Plain was almost deserted of birds, with the exception of two Scrub Warblers and a Mourning Wheatear. After that we headed to K20 where we got awesome views of a number of different waders, mainly common species but also a nice Greater Sand Plover. The Lesser Flamingo was still present, although not doing anything exciting.
As it then turned out the volunteers we’re trying for some night birds up north with the champions of the flyway groups. This was something I had wanted to do for a while so was pretty keen, although less so when I heard that none of the birds had been seen the previous night. However, we were in luck as our first stop for Nubian Nightjar came up trumps when we had a very nice individual hovering right above us, clear as day in the light of numerous torches. A Barn Owl was present in the same spot but we did not linger in order to prevent disturbance to the birds. Our other stop was for Desert Tawny Owl which was in one of the Wadis near the Dead Sea. Here we also struck gold. The bird responded to the tape numerous times before we spotted it on a cliff edge some distance away. It sat in the torchlight for a very short time before flying off into the darkness. A very pleasant evenings birding, to say the least.
-Water Pipit
-Slender-billed Gull 
-Kentish Plover
-Spur-winged Plover

Species List:
Seifim Plain: Scrub Warbler, Mourning Wheatear, Desert Lark, Short-toed Lark,
K20: Little Stint, Red-necked Phalarope, Dunlin, Greater Sand Plover, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Spur-winged Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Slender-billed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, Grey Heron, Shoveler, Shelduck, Ruff, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Laughing Dove, Collard Dove, Spectacled Bulbul, Blue-headed Wagtail, Black-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail,
Dead Sea Area: Long-legged Buzzard, Barn Owl, Desert Tawny Owl, Nubian Nightjar,

Day 46 23.03.2018
Because of the days off had been worked out this was my only day in the mountains before another day off. So I once again found myself at Low Mountain, enjoying a good raptor passage. As usual there was a nice variety including my first Montagu’s Harrier of the trip, a cracking male that flew over to my east. The Steppe Buzzards were the stars of today though as many of the birds flew very low right over the Low Mountain station affording amazing views. I was finally able to take some nice photos of them, and the large thermals provided an excellent arena to appreciate the staggering variety in colours shown in these birds.
-Steppe Buzzard & Black Kite
-Steppe Buzzard
-Long-legged Buzzard

Species List:
Low Mountain: Short-toed Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Steppe Buzzard, Montagu’s Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Black Kite, Lesser Kestrel, European Sparrowhawk, Pallid Swift, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Tristrams Starling, Striolated Bunting, Blackstart, Trumpeter Finch, Sand Partridge,

Day 47 24.03.2018
This is a big day! Since I knew a few people coming out to Israel I was able to organise myself a lift up to the Mcqueens Bustards at Nitzana. This was to be part of a larger day out birding some of the northern areas in preparation for the Champions of the Flyway event that some of the guys I was with were participating.
We arrived at Nitzana for just after first light. It was gloomy and drizzly and windy. Not the ideal start. However, it did not take long for us to find our first target; Cream-coloured Courser with a handful of birds running distantly over the plain. A handful of birds did come closer at one point allowing us great views of these excellent birds. We saw just the one bustard, again very distant, but we got to watch it displaying which was amazing as it revealed all the white plumes around its neck. Sadly it did not come closer but through the scope we got excellent views.
Our next stop was just down the road from Nitzana in a small campsite. Lots of raptors were passing overhead and I got so see many of the species that I had been seeing in the mountains; Booted Eagle, Pallid Harrier etc. But here I also got Lesser Spotted Eagle which was a new species for me. Sadly it did not linger to soar but I was able to grab a few quick photos as it flew over. At the same location we managed Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and Chukar partridge, another new species for me. After that we called in at the sewage ponds nearby. Our stop was only brief but there were a host of awesome species including my first Wood Sandpiper and Collard Pratincole of the trip, plus Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and Spotted Sandgrouse coming in to drink. Amongst the reeds there was also African Swamphen, another lifer as the Purple Gallinule complex has now been broken up.
The afternoon was mainly spent running around sites checking on species for the race. First we called off at a country park lake outside of Beer Sheva for Syrian Woodpecker. We had two that showed really well after a while, the female especially performed very nicely. We also made brief stops for Desert Finch, Griffon Vulture, Alpine Swift and Sinai Rosefinch whilst along the way picking up goodies like Eastern Orphean Warbler, Great White Egret and commoner species. We wrapped up the day in Ovda which was very quiet. An absolutely brilliant day out birding, with a host of new species for me!
-Cream-coloured Courser
-Pin-tailed Sandgrouse
-Lesser Spotted Eagle
-Syrian Woodpecker

Species List:
Day List: Little Grebe, Great Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Mallard, Shoveler, Griffon Vulture, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Booted Eagle, Steppe Buzzard, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Chukar, Sand Partridge, Moorhen, Coot, African Swamphen, Macqueens Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Cream-coloured Courser, Collard Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Spur-winged Plover, Common Snipe, Ruff, Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Spotted Sandgrouse, Feral Pigeon, Collard Dove, Laughing Dove, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Alpine Swift, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Hoopoe, Syrian Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Short-toed Lark, Sand Martin, House Martin, Rock Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Tawny Pipit, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Spectacled Bulbul, Bluethroat, Blackstart, Northern Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, Mourning Wheatear, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Chiffchaff, Afghan Babbler, Palestine Sunbird, Woodchat Shrike, Southern Grey Shrike, Brown-necked Raven, Hooded Crow, House Crow, Common Myna, Tristrams Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, European Greenfinch, Sinai Rosefinch, Desert Finch,

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