Friday, 13 April 2018

Israel: 12 - 14.04.2018

Day 65 12.04.2018
The raptor survey in the morning was good fun once again. We travelled through some pretty cool areas of the mountains but sadly failed to find any concrete evidence of raptor nests. Fortunately there were lots of other birds to keep us busy, especially Ortolan Buntings and Blackcaps which were extremely abundant. There was also a nice passage of raptors and storks, with an impressive 13 Eurasian Sparrowhawks but still no Levants. The Black Bush Robin which is resident at Hai Bar also put in an appearance before we set out for the survey, showing very well.
After the survey we went out snorkelling for the first time in a long time. It was amazing to see all the reefs again. The highlight was a Mantis Shrimp that I saw sat on one of the corals, only a small 2 inch long individual but still amazing to see, not something I had expected to encounter. They are amazing animals!
After the beach we headed out birding. After our success in Ofira Park the previous day we decided to head there again. There was no sign of the little bunting, and species diversity seemed to have dropped off quite a bit on the lawns, but there were still some nice birds in the bushes. Without a doubt the highlight was an incredibly showy Rufous-tailed Bush Robin which allowed me to get extremely close for photos. Sadly it remained in the shade the whole time I was watching it, but I can hardly complain when it was showing as well as that.
We drove around the bird park salt ponds and then down to north beach. Here I finally connected with a Levants Sparrowhawk when a male flew through low. Sadly it was not close but the views were good enough to immediately recognise that it was a Levants, no doubt about it. North Beach was fairly quiet, although there was a notable increase in the number of terns, and a Honey Buzzard flew in off the sea, rounding off another excellent afternoon birding.
-Rufous-tailed Bush Robin
-Levants Sparrowhawk
-European Honey Buzzard

Species List:
Raptors Breeding Survey: Masked Shrike, Black Bush Robin, House Sparrow, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Black Stork, Steppe Buzzard, Steppe Eagle, Black Kite, Ortolan Bunting, Egyptian Vulture, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Sand Partridge, Scrub Warbler, Rock Dove, Rock Martin, House Martin, Rock Hyrax,
Ofira Park: Spotted Flycatcher, Ortolan Bunting, Tree Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Ring-necked Parakeet, House Crow, House Sparrow, Rufous-tailed Bush Robin, Masked Shrike, Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat,
North Beach: European Honey Buzzard, Levants Sparrowhawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Steppe Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Spotted Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Redshank, Black-winged Stilt, Common Sandpiper, Little Stint, Dunlin, Pied Kingfisher, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Arctic Skua, White-eyed Gull, Caspian Gull, Heuglins Gull,

Page 66 13.04.2018
The morning was a write off, spending the day in bed catching up on some much needed sleep. In the afternoon we headed out to Yotvata to have a look for a Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush. It took us a while but we did eventually catch up the bird but it remained distant for the time that we were there, and we could not approach it as it was sitting right next to the border. It was, however, a stunning male in its real finery. There were a few other birds around but not a great deal; a few larks, pipits and turtle doves. We also called in at North Beach in the evening but there was not a great deal happening, just a few Common Terns and the usual White-eyed Gulls. A Whimbrel that flew over was a nice Israeli tick.
-Marsh Harrier
-Common Tern

Species List:
Yotvata: Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Common Kestrel, Black-eared Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Crested Lark, Marsh Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Turtle Dove, Collard Dove, Red-throated Pipit, Water Pipit, White Stork, Purple Heron, Yellow Wagtail,
North Beach: Common Tern, Whimbrel, White-eyed Gull, Baltic Gull, Caspian Gull, Pied Kingfisher, Ring-necked Parakeet, House Crow, House Sparrow, Lesser Whitethroat,

Day 67 14.04.2018
My morning was spent out in the desert surveying for Arabian warblers. Sadly we failed to find any signs of any but had a nice morning filled with Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats. Two Rufous-tailed Bush Robins were also nice, but the undoubted highlight was a Fat Sand Rat which we saw sunning itself outside its burrow. That is correct, a Fat Sand Rat! What an animal!
In the afternoon we headed to K20 to see if there were any waders. We had a number of nice birds; including three Israeli ticks for myself; Gull-billed Tern, White-winged Black Tern and Ferruginous Duck. There were still plenty of waders, including Broad-billed Sandpiper, many Collard Pratincoles and the usual assortment of commoner waders. The numbers of Yellow Wagtails was also impressive, with many feldeg, thunbergi and flava sat on the road by the car.
As usual our final destination was North Beach but once again there was a lack of White-cheeked terns. A flock of Purple Herons that came in off the sea was unexpected but sadly that was about the highlight. With one day left, it seems unlikely that I will be able to connect before I leave
-Fat Sand Rat
-Blue-headed Wagtail
-Black-headed Wagtail
-Grey-headed Wagtail
-Yellow Wagtails
-Gull-billed Tern

Species List:
Arabian Warbler Survey: Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Chiffchaff, Eastern Bonellis Warbler, Rufous-tailed Bush Robin, Collard Dove, Laughing Dove, House Sparrow, Spectacled Bulbul, Crested Lark, Ortolan Bunting, Short-toed Lark, Fat Sand Rat, Dorcas Gazelle,
K20: Black-tailed Godwit, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Dunlin, Little Stint, Temminck’s Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Collard Pratincole, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Spur-winged Plover, Ferruginous Duck, Shoveler, Teal, Garganey, Shelduck, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, Grey Heron, White Stork, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Red-throated Pipit, Water Pipit, Black-headed Wagtail, Grey-headed Wagtail, Blue-headed Wagtail, Northern Wheatear, Spectacled Bulbul, Slender-billed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, White-winged Black Tern,
North Beach: Western Reef Heron, Greater Flamingo, Purple Heron, White-eyed Gull, Baltic Gull, Caspian Gull, House Sparrow, Common Tern, White-winged Black Tern,

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