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