Monday, December 12

Larking out again...

For the last 2 years, we had very good numbers of Larks flocking and forming big concentrations in many different places (Meishar, Ovda...) but this was mainly due to the heavy rains that we had during winter 2010 which enabled a very high reproductive rate of all these desert birds (some with 3 breeding cycles).
On Monday, I was joined by Shay Kabessa (so all the good photos are his...) to go and check the area of Ovda Valley, where I had nice Lark flocks during November, to see if these are still present?!

As we reached to the Valley, it didn't take much until we were stumbled by a big concentration of Bar-tailed Larks. There were at least 100 individuals mixed with some 10's of Trumpeter Finches. Soon after, we located among them few 10's of Temminck's Larks and singles of Thick-billed Larks

After scanning the area we managed to locate another very big flock of mainly TF and BtL(last month I had there at least 400 of each).

We then moved on upper in the valley and found more of all these species (at least another 100 Thick-billed Larks and 40-50 Temminck's Larks) and also Desert & Crested Larks, Hooded, Mourning & White-crowned Wheatears and a few Spotted Sandgrouse which flew by. The most interesting bird though, was a single Dunn's Lark which was feeding franticly alongside Crested and Bar-tailed Larks. Unfortunately by the time I got Shay to the area, we couldn't re-locate the bird (will have to try again sometime next week...)

After enjoying the plains, we drove down to the Arava again and en-route we checked if the Pale Scops Owl which was seen earlier this month (here photographed by Rami Mizrahi), is still present?! Unfortunately we couldn't find any but instead we had a nice group of males Nubian Ibex's which have also suffered much from the long drought of 1998-2009 and have become very scarce in recent years around Eilat and the southern Arava. 

Both White-crowned & Hooded Wheatears were jumping around chasing each other from the best perch...

After I left Shay back at the Hai-bar, I checked again the Samar sewage where a flock of 20 or so Syrian Serins were still present with some Desert Finches and Spanish Sparrows.

I've added a map of most of the IBRCE ringing Controls and Recoveries (see the right most page-tab) for those who are interested. There are still many missing there, which I hope to update sometime soon.  

Wednesday, December 7

Winter birding...

After the last rarity collection, everything is much more settled now and we are getting deep into the winter birding scene.

Pallas's Gulls can be seen both on K20 and at North Beach, numbers of Black-headed Gulls  have also raised and there are more and more Heuglin's, Baltic and Armenian Gulls. 

Waders are also all appearing in their winter plumage and there are many Water Pipits and some Red-throated Pipits in many places.

At least 2 Asian Buff-bellied Pipits are seen almost daily in a Melon field not far from the IBRCE and there are at least 2 Olive-backed Pipits in Eilot and 1 in Samar.

Up in Yotveta fields, 2 White-fronted Geese  are enjoying the fresh wheat for the last week or so, it is a real treat to see this tundra bird in the middle of the desert... also there, few small groups of Skylarks with at least 2 Oriental Skylarks among them. 
Penduline Tits are calling around Elifaz and Lotan sewage ponds as well as at the IBRCE and there are Bluethroats, Black Redstart, Stonechats and Chiffchafs all around.

Seed-eaters have become very evident and there are groups of Desert Finchs, Greenfinchs, Linnets in many places. Few Chaffinches and a single Brambling  were also a nice addition yesterday in Eilot fields. 

Also a wonderful group of 20-25 Syrian Serins in Samar Sewage (originally found by Shay Kabessa) makes a nice colour addition

One of the birds which Shay photographed, is bearing a ring. This bird may come from either the Hermon mountain where the IOC organise once a year a weekend of ringing  or maybe from few individuals that were trapped around Mitspe-Ramon or Sde-boker in previous winters.
Hen, Marsh and a single Pallid Harriers are also quit common and a nice Imperial Eagle is present around the Hai-bar Yotveta for a week or so was photographed by Shay.

Few Hooded Wheatears are keeping their winter territories and this is true with some Desert and Mourning Wheatears as well...

Hope to have more interesting birds soon,