Eilat Weekly Updates

Shachar Shalev 23/07/2017 00:00








We've had a really nice weekend with a really good wave of migrants, the park was swamped, the pools packed and the fields filling up.

The variety is also growing daily with more than 70 species counted in the park this morning and well over a hundred in the area. While during the week ringing numbers were quite low, Friday morning brought loads of passerines including huge numbers of shrikes, lots of Willow Warblers, Whitethroats etc Sedge Warblers, Savi's Warblers, Wrynecks, the first Thrush Nightingale, a Northern Wheatear ringed and the first Black-eared Wheatear plus a bonus couple of Common Rosefinch.


Also around were a young Egyptian Vulture, some Collared Pratincoles, Citrine Wagtails, the first Tree Pipit, Red-rumped Swallows, Little Crakes.... never a dull moment!

Km20 has seen record numbers of Flamingo pouring in, 1,940 counted midweek with over 1,000 of them juveniles. Large numbers of waders continue to fill the ponds as are growing numbers of Garganey, Shovellers, Pintails, Glossy Ibis, Grey and Purple Herons, White-winged Terns, Yellow Wagtails and Sand Martins. I didn't have time to go anywhere else but I'm sure it's just getting better throughout the Arava - come join us, you won't regret it!




I am back in town and back in business!

The annual shrike invasion is well underway and the ringers are feeling it more than anyone.... literally!

Red-backed Shrikes are everywhere and they can have quite a good nip to them. The Lesser Grays tend to hang around Km20 and acacia trees while Woodchat Shrikes and Masked Shrikes are also passing through in good numbers. Carefully avoiding the shrikes are the smaller passerines heading south, Reed warblers and Great Reed Warblers, Common Whitethroats and Lesser Whitethroats, Eastern Orphean Warblers and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, Yellow Wagtails and Citrine Wagtails, Spotted Flycatchers and even a Pied Flycatcher. Also around were a few Black-headed Buntings, a couple of Hill Sparrows and a Rose-coloured Starling.


Km 20 and the park ponds have loads of waders, Marsh Terns, Garganey, Brown Ibis and a big wave of juvenile Flamingos, over 200 at KM20 and 67 at the park.

Raptors are still few but there are Montagu's and Marsh Harriers and the Sooty Falcons are more active these days especially round the park, KM 20 and Elifaz. A quick look at North Beach showed 40 odd White-cheeked Terns and White-eyed Gulls but a good southerly and that could change nicely.... till the weekend!




It's only the start of August and still we had some nice surprises at the Bird Sanctuary this week. The first surprise was an Egyptian Nightjar that was seen a number of times by the park staff in daylight.

This enigmatic bird is generally seen here early spring in the Yotvata fields and occasionally in the late autumn. Now that we know they are breeding in the Dead Sea area perhaps we have a bird from there or maybe they are breeding under our noses in the Arava?


One evening I went to look for the bird and another surprise floated across in front of my nose, in full sunshine...a Nubian Nightjar! I'm sure it is the same one that was here last year, where he's been since then we can only wonder. What is for sure is that we will be giving him plenty of space and quiet to help him feel at home.

We also had a young Rose-coloured Starling most of the week and two very early Icterine Warblers also turned up in the park.


The number of passerine migrants is still low, mainly Eastern Olivaceous and Reed Warblers, some Eastern Orphean Warblers plus the occasional Lesser Gray and Masked Shrikes. Lots of regular waders can be found at all the salt ponds with some groups now in the hundreds, more White-winged Terns coming through and the first Garganey arriving.

Yotvata was very quiet during the weekend with just a few Blue-cheeked bee-eaters but the fields are in good condition to attract migrants when they arrive.

North Beach is very quiet, 3 Bridled Terns were hanging around at the start of the week, plenty of White-cheeked Terns and little else. I am off to Portugal this week so hopefully nothing will happen while I'm gone...but I wouldn't count on it! Have a great week!





It takes a little longer for autumn migrants to reach us here in the south of the country but we are back in business with all our birding sites sporting good numbers of migrants.

At the bird sanctuary we are seeing good numbers of Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, Reed Warblers, a single Upchers Warbler and a Whitethroat alongside many waders and groups of White Storks swirling lazily in the breeze.

Yotvata fields are still fairly empty but there was a group of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters there and the sewage pond was bouncing with waders including 2 Temminck’s Stints, 5 Ferruginous Ducks and a Lesser Grey Shrike. Samar sewage also had plenty of waders but the Elifaz reservoir was empty except for a group of Bar-tailed Larks and a Hoopoe Lark hunting bugs on the southern edge. There were also Hooded and White-Crowned Wheatears there along with another lesser Grey Shrike.


The numbers at Km20 vary daily with the waves of migrants, 7 Temminck’s Stints today and the first Black-tailed Godwit yesterday plus an evening visit from a Sooty Falcon. North Beach has been very slow except for Tuesday when Re'a Shaish arrived bringing with him a cooler southerly breeze. We saw 12 Skuas that evening including two Long-tailed Skuas plus good numbers of White-cheeked Terns and a lone Lesser Crested Tern.

It may still be hot but it is worth a few hours of birding! Have a good week!





If there is one good thing you can say about July here it's that it is virtually over....too hot, too humid and too few birds. And despite that we had a pretty good start to the week.

Monday I picked up Nissim for a late afternoon trip around KM20 before heading down to North Beach. The number of migrant waders at KM20 is growing rapidly with nearly 100 Ruffs today, big group of Wood Sandpipers, Little Stints everywhere, a Curlew Sandpiper, salt and pepper coloured White-winged Terns and even a group of early Pelicans dropped in.


But it was North Beach with it's dwindling numbers and variety that brought some action. Arctic Terns are a fairly rare visitor to these shores so it was nice to have an adult bird in fresh summer dress come meandering across in front of us while we still had some sunshine. 20 minutes later after the sun had dipped below the mountains a juvenile bird arrived from the south bringing up the rear of a group of Common Terns. It was a little unusual looking but probably only because of an arrested moult. This weekend the Bridled Terns had returned and even a couple of Baltic Gulls arrived.

Shortly the passerine migration will begin in earnest...bring on autumn!





It was a very dull week in the hot south with very few new birds around. So this morning I headed out to Ovda to visit some of the desert birds I haven't seen a while. The spring rains have left Ovda with plenty of green patches and lots to eat for the local birds.

At 6am it was a wonderful 24C with a pleasant breeze. Small groups of Spotted Sandgrouse were moving around and a lone group of Crowned Sandgrouse landed nearby. Sand Partridge were everywhere and there were good numbers of White-crowned Wheatears, Mourning Wheatears but just a couple of Hooded Wheatears. Only small numbers of Trumpeter Finch and Scrub Warblers but Desert Larks are absolutely everywhere!

It was a pretty fun morning!


On the way back I passed through Yotvata - half the North Field is very green, loads of Namaqua Doves and will get plenty of migrants when they arrive. The south field is still dry but still has possibilities and the sewage ponds were sporting 5 White Storks, 5 Little Ringed Plovers and 5 Little Grebes plus the first Little Stints to return..... it will get interesting shortly.


At the park a Sooty Falcon finally put in an appearance but the rails were staying deep in the reeds. KM20 was very quiet as was North Beach, just a couple of Pomarine and Arctic Skuas heading north and 3 Bridled Terns this evening.

Not sure next week will be better but I hope so!





This week decidely unpleasant with a persistent strong northerly wind, dusty, hazy and a steady 43C. Fortunately by the weekend the skies had cleared, the wind was light with a nice southerly breeze Friday evening and the temperature dropped to a more manageable 42.9C.


Even the seabirds had disappeared off but by this evening quite a few had returned, 5 Bridled Terns turned up, 3 Lesser Crested Terns and good numbers of White-cheeked Terns. At the park the news was even better as I got a quick look at a young Rail who dropped in on the head of one of the adult birds.

There were also two Rails calling in the first hide while the adult birds were on the far side of the lake. Now we just need some pictures. The juvenile Little Bitterns are also out and about as are the Eastern Olivaceous Warblers and the Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters have also youngsters out around Kibbutz Grofit.

All in all a good year for birds that rarely breed here.


KM20 is back in business with a good number and variety of waders, terns etc. There was a Curlew, Gull-billed, Whiskered, Common, Little and Caspian Terns, Ruffs, Common Sandpipers, Green and Marsh Sandpipers, Redshanks and Greenshanks, Little Ringed, Ringed and Kentish Plovers and two very young Hoopoe Larks looking very shabby. One of them tried his hand as a wader running in the salt water and flew across the waterthen .

KM19 is also getting new birds with more Herons, Egrets, Spoonbills, Ducks and the Barn Swallows and Pale Crag Martins are back after a short absence.

Have a good week!





This week started hot, damn hot! People were melting in the street!

But interestingly at the same time we had 3 days of good southerly winds pushing seabirds up the gulf. We had Long-tailed, Pomarine and Arctic Skuas, at least 5 Bridled Terns, Lesser Crested Terns, big numbers of White-cheeked Terns and many Common Terns and White-eyed Gulls.

Hopes were high for Thursday's pelagic to the sea border between Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately the wind swung around to a very unhelpful westerly and some of the birds had disappeared back down the gulf. It was still a fun morning with a Cory's Shearwater coming in close, 5 Bridled Terns and a fantastic swordfish leaping out of the water on a number of occasions.


This morning I tried Taba and the new Katza beach beside the Dolphin reef. Nothing special but really good numbers of terns and gulls, both good alternatives to North Beach.


The bird park is very quiet but the young Namaqua Doves are out and about, some waders are arriving and the Rails are still strutting about.

KM20 is showing the first signs of autumn migration with some more Pintails and Shovellers arriving, more Redshanks and Greenshanks, some Green Sandpipers, 2 Common Sandpipers, a Little Ringed Plover and a strange Dunlin in perfect winter plumage!!?? He also looks (to me) a little longer billed and taller than the regular subspecies...?


K19 also has some new residents including 2 more Great Egrets, ducks and waders. While there are no great expectations for the coming week you just never know! Have a cool week!





With the temperatures heading into the mid-forties celsius this week I headed north for a Bat Mitzva on the northern border and a quick visit to Jerusalem.

Not too much happening in Eilat with the damn Water Rails fighting instead of breeding, maybe they're two males??

North Beach still has reasonable numbers of Common, White-cheeked and Little Terns with up to 3 Lesser Crested Terns occasionally gracing us with their presence.

The north of Israel wasn't much better, quick sea-watch off Rosh Hanikra turned up plenty of Common Terns and Yellow-legged Gulls but little else.

Around Hanita were some Red-rumped Swallows, regular breeders including Sardinian Warblers, Lesser Whitethroats, Great Tits etc while in Jerusalem there were some 200 Alpine Swifts migrating south over the Temple Mount, a few Spotted Flycatchers, a big group of Jackdaws doing a poor starling imitation and plenty of local birds.


This week a group of very optimistic birders will head out on the Eilat gulf and hopefully turn up a mega sea visitor… we certainly need something to brighten up this summer!





I'm beginning to enjoy my new sea watch spot on the pier just before the border crossing into Egypt.

There's a steady stream of birds which are mainly Common Terns, nice number of adult White-cheeked Terns, the odd Caspian Tern, a couple of Arctic Skuas and regular visits from Striated Herons.

I also had my first Cory's Shearwater for a couple years, a bird whose numbers appear to be dwindling in recent years.


There is also great fish action with big shoals of little fish attracting some big fish who come leaping out of the water at regular intervals. Also had a large sea-turtle come past for a look and a couple of dolphins streaming past in the distance.

Quite remarkably it was actually at North Beach early in the week where the Swinhoe’s Storm petrel turned up and came in as close as 200 metres from the beach.... and I think we're going to see more of them before the summer's over.


This evening at North Beach I had a Long-tailed Skua sitting out amongst the boats, plenty of regular Terns but also plenty of biting flies.

Elsewhere very little movement, some Greenshanks, Redshanks and a couple of Green Sandpipers moved in, still a few Sand Martins, House Martins and Barn Swallows moving in who knows which direction???

Next week is going to be hot but we'll still be hanging in there!




Shachar Shalev