Thursday, 29 March 2018

Israel: 28 - 30.03.2018

Day 51 28.03.2018
Sadly today High Mountain failed to build on the exceptional migration of the previous day, with only 1500 Buzzards moving through with very little variety mixed in amongst them. An early Egyptain Vulture was about the best of the rest, although the Hooded Wheatear performed exceptionally well and was always a highlight. Two Grey Wagtails that flew past were also a trip tick for me, so that was quite exciting.
Fortunately once we had called time on the mountains we went out birding around Eilat. Our first stop was Ofira park where we had a Siberian Stonechat, Cretzschmar’s Bunting and a few nice Yellow Wagtails; Flava and Feldeg. Unfortunately none of the birds were approachable, so I was not able to get any good photos.
K20 was the next stop and here we had lots of nice birds. Good numbers of Wheatears; Black-eared, Northern and Desert, plus ample Yellow Wagtails were all around us, whilst on the salt pans themselves there continued to be many wader species. The highlight of these was Broad-billed Sandpiper, of which we found four showing well right next to the car. The only downside was that the light was very poor and not ideal for photography at all. In the fields next to the pans we had one of my most wanted birds for the trip; Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, but tragically it did not linger so flyby views were all I managed to get until we headed to K19 where there were two flying around with a Hirundine flock. The Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse also came in to drink, with at least seven on the bank.
-Siberian Stonechat
-Collard Pratincole
-Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
-Broad-billed Sandpiper

Species List:
High Mountain: Steppe Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Black Stork, Egyptian Vulture, Black Kite, Booted Eagle, Desert Lark, Hooded Wheatear, Short-toed Lark, Grey Wagtail,
Ofira Park: Siberian Stonechat, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Tree Pipit, White Wagtail, Black-headed Wagtail, Blue-headed Wagtail, Woodchat Shrike, Laughing Dove, Collard Dove, Palestine Sunbird, Spectacled Bulbul, Cretzschmar’s Bunting,
K20: Dunlin, Little Stint, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Collard Pratincole, Black-winged Stilt, Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Little-ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Ruff, Spur-winged Plover, Marsh Harrier, Laughing Dove, Collard Dove, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, Shelduck, Shoveler, Mallard, Teal, Slender-billed Gull, Desert Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Black-headed Wagtail, Grey-headed Wagtail, Blue-headed Wagtail, Water Pipit, Lesser Whitethroat, Little Green Bee-eater, Spectacled Bulbul, Glossy Ibis,
K19: Glossy Ibis, Squacco Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Common Swift, Lichtensteins Sandgrouse, Black-winged Stilt, Spur-winged Plover, Woodchat Shrike, Laughing Dove, Collard Dove, House Sparrow, Black-headed Wagtail, Blue-headed Wagtail, Pied Wagtail,

Day 52 29.03.2018
Today was my last day in the mountains before a much needed day off. Sadly the weather took a turn for the worse with extremely dusty conditions reducing visibility, spots of rain in the morning and a serious gale. Because of this we got to spend the first few hours of the day in the bird park, where we saw a few cool birds; Little Crake, Citrine Wagtail, Savis Warbler and an Israel tick in the form of Indian Silverbill. Sadly once we got up to the mountains we returned to a birdless wasteland. The only birds of any note were three Osprey in a row.
-Indian Silverbill
-Citrine Wagtail

Species List:
IBRCE Bird Sanctuary: Grey Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, White Wagtail, Little Crake, Coot, Cormorant, Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint, Ruff, Spur-winged Plover, Savis Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, Indian Silverbill, Palestine Sunbird, Laughing Dove, Collard Dove,
High Mountain: Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Steppe Buzzard, Short-toed Lark, Hooded Wheatear, Desert Lark, Collard Dove, Brown-necked Raven, Black Stork,

Day 53 30.03.2018
For my first day off in nearly a week I headed out with Tim and his dad around a number of sites between K19 and Yotvata. We started at Elifaz reservoir to look for larks. We found no larks at all, not even Crested Lark, but instead we found my last target species for the trip; Cyprus Wheatear, a cracking male. Sadly it was not cooperative in any way and not approachable. Tim managed a few nice pictures but I was not as fortunate. Still a cracking bird, and another excellent Wheatear lifer.
Still early morning we left and called in at Samar for the Black Bush Robin. We saw it for a short while but it then took off into the bushes where we were unable to relocate it. As a result we continued along our way to Yotvata. As usual the birding here was excellent; with highlights including Namaqua Dove, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, 30+ Lesser Kestrel all showing well and a female Caspian Plover which I found myself. The latter showed very well on a large pile of manure. The supporting cast included much the same as previous visits; Red-throated Pipit, Short-toed Lark, Eastern Orphean Warbler.
In the afternoon we checked the local sewage plants, with limited success. A Turtle Dove was a nice trip tick but that was about all we were able to muster. A check of K20 provided us with more views of Broad-billed Sandpiper, but not a great deal of anything else. We checked Eilot fields in the late evening before heading to K19 for the sandgrouse. A cracking male Ortolan Bunting and a stunning Barbary Falcon were the two standout species, but the birding was generally pleasant with Hoopoe, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and lots of Hirundines. Incredibly the sandgrouse failed to turn up at K19 but there was an impressive roost of Hirundines and Wagtails to compensate.
-Cyprus Wheatear (Photo Tim Jones)
-Black Bush Robin
-Namaqua Dove
-Caspian Plover
-Temminck's Lark
-Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
-Lesser Kestrel
-Broad-billed Sandpiper

Species List:
Elifaz, Yotvata, Samar, K20 & K19: Shoveler, Pintail, Garganey, Shelduck, Egyptian Goose, Coot, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Squacco Heron, Montagu’s Harrier, Hen Harrier,  Barbary Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, Steppe Buzzard, Black Kite, Black Stork, Osprey, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Laughing Dove, Collard Dove, European Turtle Dove, Namaqua Dove, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, European Bee-eater, Little Green Bee-eater, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Dunlin, Little Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Greenshank, Redshank, Spur-winged Plover, Little-ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Caspian Plover, Greater Flamingo, Baltic Gull, Heuglins Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Pallid Swift, Common Swift, Sand Martin, Eurasian Crag Martin, Rock Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Red-throated Pipit, Tawny Pipit, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Black-headed Wagtail, Blue-headed Wagtail, Grey-headed Wagtail, Northern Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Greater Short-toed Lark, Temmincks Lark, Hoopoe, Wryneck, Masked Shrike, Southern Grey Shrike, Black Bush Robin, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Crested Lark, Ortolan Bunting, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Indian Silverbill, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow,

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