Saturday, April 12

 And here is a collection of more birds from the past week all seen around the Southern Arava and Eilat region.  
Red Phalarope swimming next to Red-necked Phalarope
Sooty Shearwater
Western Reef Heron
Wood Warbler
Whiskered & White-winged Terns
Spotted Redshank
Whimbral @ Ketora sewage
Booted Eagle

Collared Pratincole
Namaqua Doves

There were also observations of the Pharaoh Eagle Owl this week but no photos as well as reports of Rustic Bunting @ Holland Park and a Bar-tailed Godwit @ K20 and more Black Bush Robins found both at Hatzeva and around the Dum Palms.

Sunday, March 30

A week summery in the Arava

Its been a long and hectic week for me with guiding and monitoring throughout.
Bird migration is always a wonderful spectacle and there is always much to see (though not always what you expect...)

It started last Sunday when I was guiding Norbert Schaffer and we had these wonderful birds which were described in my last post, but in fact, raptor migration kept on going in the most amazing numbers throughout the week and in one morning at least 70,000 Steppe Buzzards were counted during a single day!

Passerines numbers have been low this week and in fact it was a very hard work to find all that we were looking for, but still we managed well with some local 'stars' like Bimaculated Lark, Hooded Wheatears, Crowned Sandgrouses and an array of more common species.

The highlight was on Wed' when an RBA broke the silence reporting of a Pied Bushchat which was very swiftly becoming the most interesting species of the week, 

leaving the Daurian Shrike, Caspian Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Little Crakes Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Striated Heron, Macqueen's Bustard and even the Black Bush Robins all behind.
Photo by Nitzan  Segev
racing for the Caspian Plover

Photo by Shachar Shalev
Thanks for the organisers and hope the season will keep on surprising us for the better.

I'm off to the field, there must be something out there...


Sunday, March 23

It only gets better

As the season progress more and more migrants are found on a daily basis. In fact it is so hectic that I cant find the time to sit and write all the updates, so below is a very quick review of what was seen in the past 10 days:

On 13th while guiding a happy group originally from UK and Australia, but all living at present in the quiet country in the Alps - Switzerland, also known as BBC - Birds Beer & Chips. As we arrived to Ovda Valley, we spotted many white dots on the ground which later found out to be no less than 4000 White Storks, here seen only some of them as they took off over the hills.

Later down at Yotveta, the Bimaculated Larks that were "promised" did not wait, but instead we had the first Blue-cheeked Bee-eater for the season...

Few more days passed and once again we got Bimaculated Larks at Yotveta fields, this time accompanied by Hill Sparrows (which by the way, were heard also when i was with the BBC team).

And then came the Desert Agama which was found while enjoying some Cyprus Warblers and many Ruppell's Warblers

Meanwhile after few more days have passed on the 17th, 2 Black Bush Robins were found, one at Hai-bar and one at Lotan (where a ringing station is operating this season which helped the bird get married...)

And later few Semi-collared Flycatchers were reported both from Lotan and Eilat.
While Citrine Wagtails are constantly reported from different locations and many thousands of Steppe Buzzards mixed with Steppe Eagles and many more raptors and Black Stroks are seen daily at the mountains. Even a single Golden Eagle was seen while guiding the Eilat & Arava Bird Club.

Yesterday few more Wheatears have arrived and we can see both black-throated and pale-throated Black-eared Wheatears.

This morning together with Norbert Schaffer who is working as Chief editor of the leading German magazine 'Der Falke' and he is a visitor at the 8th Eilat Spring Bird Festival, we had a great stream of raptors in the mountains and also a nice male Hooded Wheatear but the real icing was when we found a new Black Bush Robin at Yotveta Sewage, and later a very colourful Mediterranean Gull, Red-necked Phalarope and  Greater Sand Plover all at K20.

Monday, March 10

A northern visitor

In a place like Eilat & southern Arava region, which has an annual average rainfall of 22 mm, to get 10-15 mm in a single evening mean that everything is under water.
That was the case over the last hours and now it is sunny again with temp' around the 22 deg' centigrade.

I've checked this morning the few places I could approach and found that Bimaculated Larks around Yotveta have risen to 7 now (still  very far though) and had Booted Eagle except for the regular things that we've had in my last visit on Thursday. 
Hoopoe Lark was singing from the Jordanian side on the dunes and it is probably looking for a mate already.  

At K20, a Red-breasted Merganser was a great find by Rune Palmqvist from Denmark and later on, a report of Kurdish Wheatear was coming from Thomas Krumenacker of Germany not to be found again yet...
Red-breasted Merganser by Yael Shiff 
Red-breasted Merganser by Yael Shiff

A short visit to Holland Park produced a nice collection of Sylvia's including few Ruppell's & Lesser Whitethroats as well as singles of each Subalpine, Cyprus, Whitethroat and few Balkan Warblers as well.

Alpine Swifts were moving in very big swarms and altogether some 150 were counted in half an hour together with Common & Pallid Swifts.

Tomorrow ought to be a great day once all the migrants will be coming in, after being blocked for 2 days.

Friday, March 7

Migration on high gear

Back from Spain and it seems that migration down the southern Arava and around Eilat are on high speed already. I had great time on the Iberian peninsula with many interesting and enigmatic species and un-president numbers of Vultures and great company of people, but as always it is great to be back in my local patch where migration is really defined!

Thursday I went on my monitoring and had great time with many birds. Most interesting were the many Sylvia Warblers that are here in full already. Most wonderful are the Ruppelle's & Cyprus Warblers which are all around, singing their heart out and the first Eastern Orphean and Lesser Whitethroats  are also seen regularly as well as Balkan Warblers and the first Cretzschmar's Buntings and Sedge Warblers.
Ruppell's Warbler
Steppe Eagles & Buzzards are moving in low numbers still but I believe that after this weather front which we should go this weekend, things will get open again.

Big groups of Short-toed Larks mixed with few Lesser Short-toed are seen around Yotveta and among them also few Bimaculated Larks but all keeping distance and allow only a bad record shot so far. Yesterday after noon I was joined by Shachar with his supper lens and managed to add also a Temminck's Lark in this party and also few hundreds of White & (Black-headed) Yellow Wagtails and a single Citrine as well.
Greater Short-toed Lark
Bimaculated Lark flying away
Temminck's Lark
(Black-headed) Yellow Wagtail
At K20 a single Greater Sand Plover has the joined the many waders (nothing unusual for the season).

Over all it seems that there is also a good movement of Vagrant Emperor but we should still see if this is going to grow into a real wave...

Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Wheatear, Red-legged Partridge and many more Iberian peninsula specials are great, but there is nothing like getting back to your local patch and enjoy a real migration period.
Azure-winged Magpie
Spanish Imperial Eagle

Sunday, February 23

They are back...

On Tuesday, I will be heading towards the amazing FIO bird Festival at Extramadura. So before I leave, I've decided to check if night-life around Yotveta is showing Spring as well. I went out with Avi Meir and found 2 beautiful Egyptian Nightjars! After an absence of a year they are back and I hope that they will stay until I am back to try and get at least a record shot of one of them...

Also there was the resident Pharaoh Eagle Owl which thanks to Avi, now we have a decent photo of it!

This morning, both Ruppell's and Cyprus Warblers were found in there regular places around K20.

Spring is alive!   

Saturday, February 15

Let the games begin once again

After long idle due to being too occupied in moving into our new house at last, yesterday I went back to the field, joined by Shachar with his powerful Nikon (thus I didn't really bother photographing...) We had a great day with many birds and good evidence of migration throughout.

Starting at K20 we found the ponds loading with waders after being rather empty last week. Altogether we had few hundreds of each Dunlin, Little Stint while Greenshanks numbers have risen as well. We then drove towards Evrona and found this nice Steppe Shrike which didn't really allowed closer views.
At Evrona, few Chiffchafs, Sardinian and  Scrub Warblers and a female Blue Rock Thrush that played 'hard to get' but very quiet otherwise. A long drive to K76 and there a Wheatear 'bonanza' with Desert, Hooded, Mourning, Isabelline and Finch's (which was not there up to now) all around joined by Trumpeter Finches (which make the Spiny Zilla flowers even better looking) and few Linnets. This was the first outing that neither Asian Desert nor Spectacled Warblers were seen at the site and I wonder if they moved on already?!
Finch's Wheatear
On the way back to Yotveta, I received a call from the Mrs's who was coming down from Neot smadar area, describing a huge Eagle with small white 'windows' on the wing, white base of tail and broad black terminal band to the tail. Since Shachar never saw Golden Eagle yet (they used to breed around in the past, but very few records mainly during winter now days), we rushed up the mountains but with no luck. Instead we had a nicely coloured Common Whitethroat.

At Yotveta, it was mainly hot, but still had a good view of Lesser Short-toed Lark, Richard's Pipit and 3 Oriental Skylarks among the many usual species and also a very high passage of Pallid Swifts, House Martins and my first for the season Alpine Swift. No signs of 

At K19, while numbers of ducks and Cormorants have fallen dramatically, a great collection of raptors - Imperial Eagles (X2), Bonelli's Eagle, Marsh Harriers and one Barbary Falcon which was successfully controlling the numbers of Collared Doves. Later at North Beach, a very active Gull scene (White-eyed, Black-headed, Armenian, Hugline's) with nothing out of the ordinary except for a single 2nd cal' Common Gull.

I'm back to unpacking and organising the house, next round will not be too long...

Thursday, January 30


While Winter is still around (at least according to the date) and with it some very nice species like this Pallid Scops Owl which was found by Shachar few weeks ago at Wadi Shlomo and was still present yesterday (I was afraid I'm not going to see one this winter...) and the wintering Bonelli's and Eastern Imperial Eagles are still present at K19, there seems to be more and more signs of early spring.

Pallid Scops Owl
Bonelli's Eagle
Trumpeter Finches have started to sing at various locations while Kentish Plovers have developed real good colours and seem very busy in courtships. Pallid Swifts together with House Martins and Barn Swallows are all moving through in growing numbers, joined by big flocks of Rock Martins.
Pallid Swift
Trumpeter Finch
Trumpeter Finchs
Kentish Plover
Waders and waterfowl numbers are still quite steady, but I don't think that it will be long before we see more fluctuating numbers of these as well as more passerine migrants.

At the IBRCE, Yael is reporting of new arrivals of Reed Warblers full of fat and I believe that soon we will start see and hear more Sylvia's as well.

Sunday, January 19

North & East

Had another great day of monitoring out in the Arava today, joined by David Schonfeld and Liron Ziv (half day).
After Liron's great find of a Little Bunting in Yotveta fields last Friday, I decided to start here this morning and surely after some 30-40 minutes had a quick but very assuring view of it feeding in the field very close to the car. Unfortunately it moved too fast within a huge flock of Red-throated Pipits and I couldn't get even a record shot, but hopefully it will stay for another few days and I'll get a 2nd chance and mean while we can enjoy Liron's photo...
Later in Yotveta, no less than 4 Oriental Skylarks giving great show and enabling all to get a better grip of the distinct call while a single Richard's Pipit is also around.
At K76 very slow, but still a nice male Spectacled Warbler and few Desert Wheaters and Trumpeter Finches. At the Acacia woodland of Evrona, more Asian Desert Warbler and this obliging Long-eared Owl.

And this 1st winter 'semirufus' Black Redstart.

With all these Northern & Eastern species, I can't wait going out once again...