Monday, June 11

April & May 2012 around Eilat: a summary of a great season.

Birding during April and May was still very productive with lots of migrants all over. The IBRCE ringing station was working very hard and surely the guys have broken some records with the amount of birds that they handled over the whole season and i just hope that after being so busy they will all have good memories from this magical place. I hope to see them all coming back one day. I am still waiting for the season ringing totals from Yotam and I’m sure that once he will finish pinching all the data we will get a full and interesting report. 

While migrants seemed to slow down towards mid April, we still got some really nice waves towards the end of the month mainly of waders and raptors, but also passerines (as will be published later by Yotam). 

Marsh Sandpipers were aggregating in big numbers at K20 and at the IBRCE ponds and the numbers of Red-necked Phalaropes were also rising to a record number of 42 in a single group. The first Broad-billed Sandpipers arrived on the April 10th and later were seen in numbers which rose to 20 and more. Interestingly, at the same dates we already had our first fledged Kentish Plovers running around at K20.  
 This season was exceptional with Caspian Plovers and indeed, 2 late birds appeared also at K20 on April 15th (becoming the 12 and 13 individuals I’ve seen in person only this spring). 

A Eurasian Curlew was seen on the 16th April and Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouses were pairing in breeding territories. 

Towards the end of April more and more groups of White Storks were seen migrating together with big thermals of Steppe & Honey Buzzards as well as Levant Sparrowhawks. While it is always a treat to see birds landing in the middle of the desert to roost, this small group of White Storks was a nice surprise while searching for Hoopoe Larks territory. 

Rock Thrushes were still moving through the Arava till late April and on May 1st while birding around Yotveta, I found this wonderful Dunn’s Lark which was later photographed by Yoav Perlman who was nearby and could come for a twitch. 

A late Montagu’s Harrier was a nice surprise on the first week of May, but even more so was this lone Terek Sandpiper which are always not too common in Israel both joining flocks of Gull-billed and White-winged Terns.

A very interesting bird was found by Noam Waiss and John Kormendi (sorry if there are spelling mistakes) swimming on K19. It was one of the most interesting identification debate I had for some time, going back and forth from Common to Barrow’s Goldeneye and at last deciding that this is a 1st summer male (!) Common Goldeneye. At the same time more and more intriguing Pratincoles were seen by different people at different locations and I presume that we will have much on this in the future...

Our local species were already in full breeding during early May and at the same time Eurasian Honey Buzzards were flying all around with mornings of thousands of birds taking off from the date plantations along the Arava. Among them were few Oriental Honey Buzzards I managed to get a nice glimpse on few of them, but surely this adult male was the most attractive one (sorry for the poor quality of photos...) 

On May 17th I met Mr. & Mrs. Deighton’s from South Africa at Holland Park and found a nice Barred Warbler which they were looking for. I than directed them to Neot-Smadar sewage to look for some other species they were after. Not only did they found the Upcher’s and Olive-backed Warblers around, they managed to send rare bird alert regarding the most cooperative Black Bush Robin i’ve seen in many years... 

A Terek Sandpiper which was seen on May 30th represent the 3rd for the season that seemed to have completely finished now, leaving us with these great breeding species which are colouring our beloved desert. 

On June 9th, a visiting birder (Dudu Raved) had the first Bridled Tern flying around, soon we will have more of these flying at the gulf of Aqaba and since July is just around the corner, autumn migration is surely going to be another great time...

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