Thursday, March 21

Migration resumes?!

The 7th Eilat Bird Festival is behind us and despite not getting to our usual final checklist of 240 species, we still managed to get a nice assembly of species, some not very commonly seen neither at any of the past festivals nor every spring like these Hill Sparrow, Black Bush Robins & Pharaoh Eagle Owl and no less than 3 White-tailed Plovers!
During the last 2-3 days a big wave of Warblers, Hirundines, Wheatears and Raptors throughout the region and today we got our first Subalpine Warbler at the IBRCE ringing station and more were seen and photographed in many wadies around Eilat.

A report of 2 Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse at Holland Park from this morning (Y. Baser) shuld also be mentioned with respect to the species scarcity over the last 10-15 years. I hope that the many green patches in the desert, after the last winter, will help the very sensitive local population which has dropped dramatically in numbers.
Below is a small collection of bird photos taken by Eilat resident photographers Yael & Shimon Shiff...

Saturday, March 16

Things are starting to move...

After a slow start for this Spring today a wind of change was felt throughout the Arava. In other words we can describe it as "The return of the Black Prince..." no less than 3 were found today in the Southern Arava!

Despite having still few numbers the variety is quite high and the dream team at the IBRCE ringing station are joining us birding in the Arava and in the Eilat Bird Festival, where  more and more beauties are found daily. We said goodbye to Will and Roger from Fair Island team and we are really looking forward for there return next year!

since we are racked from guiding in the festival I will only post here few highlight photos from the passing few days...
Fresh from this evening...

Saturday, March 9

Spring alive...

Birding is such a great activity, always surprises, lots of interesting stuff and interesting people you meet along the way.
Last Monday we added to the ringing team at the IBRCE Roger Riddington and Will Miles who came for 10 days of ringing and birding with us. Will is visiting the ringing station for the second year in a raw and it was great to meet once again. Along with Will and Roger came also a great variety of species like Eastern Orphean & Ruppell's Warblers,  Cretzchmer's Bunting, Little Green Bee-eater and more...

The new force also allowed Markus to take his first day off and he joined me to check the bird situation at K76-77, a great spot in the Southern Arava.
This has proved a great idea and during few hours we had Ruppell's, Asian Desert & Spectacled Warblers group of  Cretzchmer's Buntings, Isabeline, Desert, Northern and Black-eared Wheatears, groups of Spotted Sandgrouses, 'samamisicus' Redstart, a single Bar-tailed Lark and a group of 20+6 PaleRock Sparrows which were busy feeding...
 We than stopped at Yotveta where we added a nice male Lesser Kestrel and few more Buntings but not much else.

After dropping Markus back at the station, I went to look for the female Subalpine Warbler which the dream team found the day before. Not only did I found it but also a beautiful male which seemed very happy feeding and fighting with the many Ruppell's around.
Today (Friday) I guided the Southern Arava birders and we had a great raptor passage with Long-legged and Steppe Buzzards, few Steppe Eagles, Egyptian Vulture and great views of Greater Spotted and Imperial Eagles as well as the/a White-tailed Plover!

What a great way to open the weekend...

Wednesday, March 6

Slowly but surely

Spring is moving on and so does the birding in the area.

At the IBRCE ringing station, numbers are still moderate but nevertheless some nice species are being caught (see Markus write up below) and there are growing numbers of Sylvia's ticking throughout and new arrivals like Red-necked Phalaropes, Marsh Sandpipers, Greater Sand Plovers and more 'feldegg' Yellow & Citrine Wagtails.

And today the first Subalpine Warbler which was found by the team at Holland Park.   
Below are more updates from yesterday by Markus...

"Ringing numbers have been developing quite slowly lately. However, today, Mar 5th, was a better day with a total of 96 birds caught including a stunning 2cy male Dead Sea Sparrow
and finally the first Rueppell's Warbler for the season (a nice male was caught later - photos will come soon - ISH), this was a 2cy female.

Chiffchaff has still been the main ringing species but yesterday we caught the first Blackcap and numbers of other sylvias have also been increasing. Balkan Warbler has been almost a daily catch and today we caught couple of Indian Silverbills again. Yesterday evening we managed to catch some Barn, Red-rumped Swallows and Sand Martins (2 very small individuals which fit perfectly to the 'eilatea' subspecies descriptions - ISH). 18 Barns, 14 Red-rumped and 2 Sand Martins altogether.
Yesterday two British guys, Will and Roger, arrived to reinforce our team for ten days - welcome aboard!. We did a quick afternoon birding to Yotvata seeing an adult male Pallid Harrier, similarly aged and sexed Hen Harrier and other common stuff. Today while ringing Will spotted a Sociable Plover passing by the station. I tried to scramble out as quickly as possible but unfortunately didn't manage to see it. Hopefully it won't be the only observation of this species during the season. Later today, Itai found a winter plumaged Greater Sand Plover and a female Cyprus Warbler at K20 (while searching for these, Will & Roger found the White-tailed Plover & the first Red-necked Phalarope for the season - ISH) and on Mar 3rd Noa and I saw two Oystercatchers flying by the North Beach. On Feb 27th we luckily found the/a White-tailed Plover present at the saltpans near the IBRCE and after that it's been observed twice also at K20. An Egyptian Goose was still present at K19 on Mar 1st and same time we also saw a 2cy Bonelli's Eagle wandering around. A Barbary Falcon at Yotvata on Mar 2nd could also be worth mentioning. Yesterday we checked Ofira Park and Central Park which were quite empty but still holding two Masked Shrikes and five Red-throated Pipits."