Thursday, March 22

Enigmatic birding...

It has been a while since i last wrote anything, but there is so much work and so much to to see out in the field that i feel a waste to sit next to the computer.

Nevertheless here is a short summery of birds in the Eilat region:
This is probably the best Spring we had around Eilat in 15 years with both numbers and variety of species, bringing Eilat back to its best.

The bushes are filled with migrants: Sylvia's are all over (including many Ruppell's few Subalpine, still some Cyprus and many Lesser Whitethroats  and Blackcaps). In the City parks there is very good representation of many other passerines groups like Buntings and Redstarts as well as few Shrikes. Also, a very good wave of both Cyprus and Pied Wheatears is going through the region as can be seen in the last few posts... and few Rock Thrushs are also present.

After 3 days of dust storm the sky were clear today and raptor migration was really kicking    with many Steppe Buzzards and still good numbers of Steppe Eagles. Also today 2 Osprey and a Greater Spotted Eagle flying north and more Egyptian Vultures  and Black Storks.

Yesterday I received a report that a probable "Basalt Wheatear" an endemic subspecies of Mourning Wheatear which is only known to breed in the Basalt desert of East Jordan and Southern Syria was seen up at the Ovda Valley by Itai Berger and Daniel Berkowic. 

This bird has a very strange behaviour of crouching forward, which I never noticed with Mourning Wheatear and I usually associate it with Finche's Wheatear. Surprisingly when Hadoram Shirihai arrived and explained about the results of his current work on the morph, he mentioned the same behaviour as a very diagnostic feature.

This is the 6th record to Israel (when accepted) and is probably on the way to be announced as a full species based on work carried by Hadoram Shirihai et al during these days.

I managed to relocate it today after a long search by many others and in few hours many of the visiting birders have managed to come and twitch the bird.

Up at Ovda Valley, there are still some 40 Thick-billed Larks and 10-20 Bimaculated Larks have joined the many Short-toed Larks And in Yotveta a beautiful adult Caspian Plover.

Back at the IBRCE, we were joined by Hadoram and together went through the re-description of the 'eilatea' subspecies of Sand Martins which is a tiny little bird and is probably also going to be split one day as a full species?!  


  1. Have you any pics of the Sand Martin?

    Laurie -

  2. Yes we do. I will upload some of them soon with some comments as well.


  3. Some mouth-watering sightings here Itai, it feels like a million years since we were there! Slightly slower going here (to say the least!) Keeping ourselves busy though, with some nice early migrants (Ring Ouzel, Black Redstarts, Wheatears, 'Phil Collins', etc) keeping us on our toes for the first biggy of the season... (Green-winged Teal today quite possibly cuts it, being only Fair Isles 2nd!) Ringing-wise, well we are just having to content ourselves with Twites and Redwings at the moment...

    Keep up the great blog!

    Jason (on Fair Isle