Monday, 9 April 2018

Israel: 09 - 11.04.2018

Day 62 09.04.2018
My second to last day of raptor counting was nothing special, less than 2000 birds but as usual a nice selection including a very nice Honey Buzzard that flew distantly past us at High Mountain, allowing some nice views through the scope. The Hooded Wheatear was still around, and for the first time there was an adult White-crowned Black Wheatear. Even better was that it was rather confiding, allowing me to get quite close to it and finally get some photos of an adult bird, rather than the regular young ones.
-European Honey Buzzard
-White-crowned Black Wheatear
-Hooded Wheatear

Species List:
High Mountain: Steppe Eagle, Steppe Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Black Stork, Booted Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, European Honey Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Hooded Wheatear, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Crag Martin,

Day 63 10.04.2018
My last day counting in the mountains! It’s hard to believe that my counts are already over, and that in less than a week I will be returning to the Britain. Sadly my last day was nothing species, barely even reaching 400 birds, all of which were extremely high. The most frustrating aspect of this was that we had 9 Sparrowhawk sp. up so high that we stood no chance of identifying them. A shame really as it seems likely from the behaviour that at least some of them were Levants…
But the day was not a complete loss, as I saw two of the best birds of the entire trip. During the mid-afternoon lull we stole a trip up to Yotvata to have a look at a gorgeous male Caspian Plover which had been found the previous evening. We were wondering where we would find it, when we spotted it sat right next to the road. We spent about half an hour watching and photographing the bird. We were able to get stupidly close, the most discomfort that it showed was when it stood up. Without doubt the best bird I have seen in Israel so far.
Also up there was the second bird of the day; Cinereous Bunting. One had been found the previous evening in the middle of Eilat but by the time we found out about it the sun had already set. We checked in the morning but with no joy, so when it was refound late evening during our time in the mountain it was a little frustrating. We headed straight there once we finished counting and after a little search the bird performed better than I could have possible imagined. A really smart little bird, and one that I was not expecting to see on the trip.
-Caspian Plover
-Cinereous Bunting

Species List:
High Mountain: Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Black Kite, Black Stork, Steppe Buzzard, Steppe Eagle, Osprey, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Rock Martin, Desert Lark, Hooded Wheatear,
Yotvata: Caspian Plover, Namaqua Dove, Collard Dove, Laughing Dove, Red-throated Pipit, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail,

Day 64 11.04.2018
First day of desert raptor breeding survey! Can’t say I enjoyed the early start but still, it was nice to be out in the desert mountains so early. A beautiful area to be sure but sadly lacking in birdlife! A single tree full of Blackcaps and a small overhead passage of Buzzards and Storks was about the best we could manage. A few Gazelles and Ibex were also nice, and I had a trip tick of Roller which is always an outstanding bird to see.
In the afternoon I paid a quick visit to the bushes of Liebzi but sadly there was nothing doing there other than more Blackcaps. Onto Ofira park where I had one of the best few hours birding I have had for some time. There were a few nice birds on the lawns which were generally quite approachable; Ortolan Buntings, Red-throated Pipits and Wryneck, but the highlight was finding a Little Bunting feeding on the lawns. I saw the bird briefly on the deck, before it flew out of sight round the corner from me. My brief views were enough to clinch the identification (Although the lack of ear spot was noted even in my brief views). Ragnor was watching the same lawn so I called to him that I’d had a Little Bunting, unsure of how rare it was. Turns out it’s pretty rare, and after the third time saying it the message got through and the excitement ensued; everyone we had with us rushed over, soon followed by every birder I know of in Eilat. It was a very placid bird, feeding out in the open without a care, allowing us to get very close. Not a species I have seen very often, but definitely the best looking individual I have seen. In all the excitement its easy to forget I actually had a lifer in the park; Thrush Nightingale. A particularly elusive individual, as they tend to be, but the views I got were good through the dense shrubbery.
In the evening we headed down to North Beach for a bit of Seawatching, although there was not a great deal moving. A pair of Crested Honey Buzzards that flew over were a nice surprise, especially as it seemed to be an adult male and adult female. Other bird included Caspian Tern, Pied Kingfisher and the regular White-eyed Gulls.
-Sinai Agama
-Little Bunting
-Red-throated Pipit
-Crested Honey Buzzard

Species List:
Raptors Breeding Survey: Mourning Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Scrub Warbler, Roller, Desert Lark, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Short-toed Eagle, Common Kestrel, Black Stork, Steppe Buzzard, Black Kite, Ortolan Bunting, Spectacled Bulbul, Little Green Bee-eater, Turtle Dove, Laughing Dove, Collard Dove,
Ofira Park: Red-throated Pipit, Tree Pipit, Ortolan Bunting, Little Bunting, Wryneck, Thrush Nightingale, House Sparrow, Ring-necked Parakeet, Collard Dove, Laughing Dove, Blackcap, Reed Warbler, Spectacled Bulbul,
North Beach: Caspian Tern, Common Tern, White-eyed Gull, Heuglins Gull, Baltic Gull, Caspian Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Pied Kingfisher, Crested Honey Buzzard, Osprey, Hen Harrier, Black Kite, White Stork, Little Stint, Black-winged Stilt, Spur-winged Plover,

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