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...


Friday, January 17

Signs of hope...

The current monitoring work which was designed, is aiming to give some more specific insight about migration along the Arava but also to check target breeding species.

Over the last 10 years numbers of Arabian Warblers have dropped dramatically in the Arava and in fact in the last breeding season, I could not locate even one breeding pair around the southern Arava. one of my monitoring polygons is targeting this species and yesterday while there, after a long disappearance (for me at least), I've found a pair hanging around the traditional breeding site. I could not get a proper photo, but a good sight indeed which gave me a big smile and a reason for hope once again...

other that that it was very usual with Little Green Bee-eaters, Palestine Sunbirds, Crowned Sandgrouses, Dorcas Gazelles and all the other regular/ common species for the season.
Lichtenstein's Sandgrouses are also being spotted coming to drink in K19 but also in other new sites, which once again gives some more reason for hope for the species. 

On Wed' I had an early morning in North beach and managed to find the Black-throated Diver flying and than swimming far away from the coast and a distant Brown Booby which also hasn't been around for some time now...

stay tuned as more updates  will follow soon.

Monday, January 13

Monitoring surprises...

After the long break, I am back to work and there is much to do.
I've been pointed to do the bird monitoring for the region by the IOC as part as their ongoing process of updating and constructing the Israel Bird Portal (which will soon be also in English). So, at least two days a week I'm joined by members of the Eilat & Arava Bird Club for monitoring 7-8 hotspots in the desert around us and training them as bird surveyors as well. So far we went out 3 times and in each outing, we had great fun and few surprises

The highlights being:
Asian Buff-bellied Pipit in Yotveta N. circular field
comparison to Red-throated Pipit
many Asian Desert Warblers in various places along the Arava Valley as well as good numbers of Spectacled Warblers.

Bar-tailed & Temminck's Larks in Km 76 area where also Crowned Sandgrouses have returned after a long disappearance. First signs of Spring migration were seen in the appearance of flocks of Pallid Swifts together with big groups of Rock Martins (the more I see them on migration, I'm getting more and more assure that this must be a different species than the 'African' Rock Martin...)
Few more Long-eared Owls were found wintering in different locations as well as a strange Eastern Black Redstart which shows mix features of 'ochruros' and 'semirufus'.
Pallas's Gulls can be found on most reservoirs and also at north beach and there are reports by Shachar Shalev of 2 Black-throated Divers hanging around N. beach.
While majestic Imperial Eagles are present in K19, Yotveta, Ketora together with few Marsh Harriers and a single Spotted Eagle. 

Stay tuned as it seems that Spring, is just behind the corner...

Wednesday, January 1

New year - new birds

Happy New Year to all!

I've started this morning (not too early), driving around the Arava en-route to a meeting in Lotan.

4-5 Long-eared Owls were a great surprise. Despite being a regular winter bird in the Arava, it is always a great feeling to bump into a more surprised face than yours (I presume they feel the same though...)  

With the wind of change I decided to check again Yotveta fields as well as some less commonly visited fields north of Yotveta.

In Yotveta, the only worth mention birds were a Black Stork and this Desert Wheatear, but Shachar report of two Richard's Pipit as well.
Grofit was quite empty except for a single Spectacled Warbler in a dry wadi and this nice Mourning Wheatear
And in Samar, an Asian Desert Warbler was another good species to start the year.

hope for a great year to come,