Tuesday, December 31

Last post for 2013

Today, on the last day of 2013, I went out again to search for the Verreaux's Eagle, which was found last week by visiting Dutch birders (Dirk Hilers et al) in the Eilat Mt's. Unfortunately I couldn't find one (I've seen one back in 1989 and never since in Israel), but in stead had a great wet morning in the desert...
This is a very rare bird in Israel and every few years we have a single report from the Eilat Mt's of a lone bird which is probably coming from the Sinai where they might still breed?!  
Yesterday while guiding, I found a nice Asian Desert Warbler and a group of 10 Sinai Rosefinchs (including 1 male). 
And a nice male Pallid Harrier was zooming very fast in Yotveta fields where at least 2 Oriental Skylarks were seen and heard.
This obliging Barbary Falcon was eating on my way to Eilat this morning.

I wish all of you a great and prosperous new year.

While there are many changes to come soon, I hope and wish all a great birding year also in 2014. 

Tuesday, November 26

Late November update

Over the last 2 weeks I've had many opportunities to check most of the region best birding spots and It is probably not going to be remembered as the best season we had, but nevertheless, like I wrote in my last post, some very nice species can be found in various locations including 4-5 Oriental Skylarks at Yotveta fields, 40-50 of each Thick-billed and Bar-tailed Larks at Ovda Valley, few Temminck's Larks at various spots as well as Asian Desert and Spectacled Warblers.

The last 2 months we had also infrequent reports of Striolated Buntings around Ovda Valley (all started with the photo here by Shimon Shiff) and I also had one last Sunday.
I just hope that this will mark the return of this wonderful species to the region after being lost for so many years.

Winter is still ahead and I still hope that more birds will arrive to enjoy the great winter around Eilat (mind you that there are 3-4 direct flight from Europe to Ovda during winter...)

Friday, November 15

Quality over Quantity

Over the last week I've been visiting many of the birding spots in the greater Eilat region.
Generally the area is not filled with many birds, but still quality is the main thing around.
In my garden a Rustic Bunting was a great find and with the current "wave" of Little Buntings in Israel there must be a connection.

4 Yellow-browed Warbler were ringed at the IBRCE ringing station and another  two were seen; 1 at Yotveta by myself and another one photographed by Tony Phizacklea.

2 Cyprus Warbler were reported by Shachar (Yotveta) and Yaniv (Samar) and one Menetries's Warbler was seen by myself in Yotveta after one was also ringed at the IBRCE.

Up at Ovda, there are groups of Thick-billed, Bar-tailed And Temminck's Larks and very few Skylarks, 7 species of Wheatears! and Crowned and Spotted Sandgrouse are also very evident.

While the first Asian Desert Warbler was spotted on Monday, on Thursday a nice Spectacled Warbler was also found at K20 and there are many common waders around including some Jack Snipes.
K76 was very slow, but still many Wheatears and a group of Temminck's Larks were very entertaining and in Yotveta, despite the very slow autumn many Red-throated and Water Pipits, some Wheatears, Merlin and very very few Skylarks. But, at least 4 Oriental Skylarks were seen both yesterday and today.

Hope to get some more birds around, though with this quality, maybe I should be less stressed about the quantity...

Tuesday, October 15

Here we go again...

It has been a while and during the last month or so much as changed...
I've had a great trip to the Caucasus and seen many interesting species including few new ones. Around Eilat; Shachar, Ilan, Noa, Avi, Sylvia, the Shiff's and all the rest of the local birders have done great job and found many nice species and have had a great migration going through and now that I'm back I will try and get more updates from what is going on around here. 
Yesterday and today were the first real birding opportunities I had since I've been back last week and indeed things are moving through.
Today while guiding the Kinrys's and Schwartz's from Canada a group of 7-10 Thick-billed Larks were seen at Uvda along side with many Bar-tailed and Desert Larks.

Also 5 species of Wheatears, many Whinechats and many Yellow and mostly White Wagtails as well as the first Water Pipit (which really do look so much different from those on the high Caucasus).
A beautiful Striated Heron was a very nice surprise at Yotveta sewage. 

Yesterday a short afternoon stroll around Yotveta, on top of the group of Lesser Kestrels a nice Hobby and an Ad Steppe Eagle were also seen around (thanks for Batumi Birder and Bark for pointing out my mistake here). 

At K20 there are loads of waders and the black Flamingo is still present (since last October). But the best one was found today, a cracking White-tailed Plover which seems to be very friendly and tame (or just tired?!)

Sunday, September 15

More news and updates from Eilat region

September is here and there are certainly many birds around! 
While Waders are coming in big numbers and variety, it is great to see also many new passerines moving through. The most thrilling for me was a bird i found last Friday (probably as a 40th birthday gift for myself) - a beautiful Grasshopper Warbler (only the 10th record for Israel if accepted and my 2nd in Israel). The bird was seen well in a bush next to the main track leading to the centre of Yotveta N. circular field and than jumping and hiding low in the "Wheat like" field on the other side of the road.

The huge groups of Yellow Wagtails have been swapped by many hundreds of Short-toed Larks and Willow Warblers and there are Red-back and Masked Shrikes almost everywhere, likewise Isabeline & Northern Wheatears and some Ortolan & Black-headed Buntings

From the reports I gather from the Southern Arava and Ovda Valley, there are also very many migrants elsewhere and despite not being on the main season for the area, we seem to enjoy a very fruitful season down south.

On late June I found at K20 Salt ponds a Turkish ringed Greater Flamingo. Precisely one month later I relocated it again but this time with another Turkish ringed bird. Last week, at last I received the ringing details and it is very thrilling to see that both birds were ringed at the exact same location as pullus one in Aug 2004 and one in July 2007. I presume that they didn't follow the Green line but the Blue line...

Thursday, August 29

Wake me up when September comes?!

Green day punk band have almost got their lyrics right as it should have been - wake me up when September comes! 

After a long and hot summer it is very refreshing to see many migrants arriving on a daily basis with many juv individual among them. Eilat area is not at its best during Autumn with regards to numbers but nevertheless there are many interesting species and some big flocks do come down using this route as well.

Over the last few days numbers of Ringed Plovers, Little Stints, Ruffs, Redshanks, Wood and Green Sandpipers have shown nice dynamics while other species like Greenshanks, Rudy TurnestoneBroad-billed Sandpipers and even a lone Red-necked Phalarope can be seen in the right habitats and still there are new generation of Spur-winged Plovers to rise...

Arrival of Yellow Wagtails and Sand Martins has also been very evident likewise Greater Flamingos numbers which have started to rise. Eastern Orphean Warblers and Lesser Whitethroats are jumping in the Acacia's alongside with Eastern Olivacous and Reed Warblers as well as Lesser Grey, Red-backed & Masked Shrikes.

And as always it is great to see these huge Pelicans with the local background...
On North Beach one can still see big numbers of White-cheeked Terns but also some Armenian and the first Baltic Gulls and new arrivals of local breeders like this Western Reef Heron.

September usually marks the time when temp' are falling a little which allows more hours out in the field scanning for the new arrivals. So please do, wake me up when September come!

Saturday, August 17

The time they are a changing...

When we were much younger every vacation day was a big bless as we could enjoy more birding, camping... But now that we've grown every day of vacation for the kids means that we should practice our flexibility in multiple-tasking.  

As the Autumn progress my personal 'Zugenruhe' is becoming very itchy and despite that, I have 2 wonderful kids in the house who enjoy the fun of summer vacation. So, both my wife and I have taken ourselves a week long vacation and travelled up north to visit the family and enjoy Israel northern frontiers...

Had great time with Odonata watching
Evan's Bluetail
Syrian Demoiselle

as well as a great morning up the Hermon ringing with a team of ISR ringers who came for the 2nd round of monitoring of this summer.
3 Serin species

While away I kept on getting report from Shachar, Shimon and the rest of the gang who stayed back in the south, of a growing migration of waders and passerines as well as more observations of our local species.

The pick though was yesterday when Shachar sent me the following photos of a juv' Caspian Plover which is a rarity in Israel in general but in Autumn it is even much rarer.

This afternoon when I came back, i went to see what else is new around and found another pair of Caspian Plovers at K20!

Now that I back home I'm hope to have more regular reports regarding the progress of the migration around here.

All the best and stay tuned

Saturday, August 3

Great fun down the beach

The last few weeks have been amazing down at N. Beach as can be seen in my previous posts. It is like going back in time to the mid 80's when I've just started birding and Eilat north beach was teaming with great birds.
Bridled Terns which have shown a great influx this summer and daily groups of up to 15 birds seen very close to N Beach (this morning while enjoying with my kids at the Coral reserve had a group of 11 flying very close).

But no less interesting: White-cheeked Terns have become the most common species over the last 2 weeks with groups of up to 35 individuals regularly seen.

Cory's Shearwaters have also been regularly seen (up to 5 individuals together) and the odd Arctic Skua, Lesser Crested Tern  were all spotted regularly.

We've had a great time so far with no less than 7 Tern species occurring regularly (4 species in this photo).

Off course we all eyed for some specific species which we all  been very eager to re-connect with, namely Red-billed Tropicbird and Sooty Tern both seen once each since mid July but with no luck so far...

Here is Shachar's report from this last Fri' "pelagic outing" we had:

"Friday, 5:30 in the morning, 11 enthusiastic and excited Eilat Birders set sail to watch some of the wonderful sea-birds in their natural environment. Expectations were high as the past week had daily reports of Bridled Terns, Lesser Crested Terns, Shearwaters, Skuas and even Sooty Falcons hunting over the sea. The previous evening I watched five Cory's Shearwaters cruise down the waters on the Jordanian side and come to rest on the sea opposite the North Beach.
No sooner had we left the marina and the first White-eyed Gull passed across our bows and was soon followed by a steady stream of White-cheeked Terns heading out to fish. On the bouys just past the Hotels we spotted two Mangrove Herons, one juvenile and one adult. We then headed as close to the sea border with Jordan as is permitted. On the border bouys sat White-cheeked Terns and White-eyed Gulls while a Sea-turtle poked his head out of the water next to the boat.
When the action dried up we headed out to sea and met our first group of seven Bridled Terns. These elegant birds are a special sight on the open sea. On at least 4 more occasions we saw groups of Bridled Terns including two who flew straight over us and one that sat on a small buoy.
There were some long periods without action where you could enjoy the wonderful views, excellent weather and great company. While the Shearwaters kept their distance, two Arctic Skuas did the rounds of the South Beach and a Sooty Falcon tried his luck catching terns. While heading back to the marina we pulled up alongside a row of White-cheeked Terns for some close up views.

What a wonderful way to spend the morning! Eilat and it's birds are truly breath-taking!"

Apart from N. Beach, many birds can be seen in various places and Autumn is surely on the move. Wader numbers are steadily increasing at K20 and new arrivals are seen daily. Larks have started their post breeding movement and both Thick-billed,Hoopoe and Bar-tailed Larks were seen more than once already in usual spots and this is true also to Hooded and Mourning and White-crowned Black Wheatears.

Last but surely not least; a bird which I photographed in Aug 2000 has just been re-considered and is now believed to be the first ever Mongolian Plover of the more eastern subspecies group in Israel - surely there is plenty to look up towards this coming month...