Spring 2016 in Eilat

5 february 2016

 

A cloudy day today, raptor migration is slowly starting, the first Steppe Eagles are on their way to the north and the first Lesser Kestrels are also reported around Eilat.

Besides the raptors, spring is in the air! The first sightings of Barn Swallows, Pallid Swifts, Lesser Whitethroats and an Eastern Orphean warbler are already reported around Eilat.

At the raptor counting stations there is never a dull moment, White-Crowned Wheatears, Hooded Wheatears, Desert Larks and Blackstarts are regularly seen.

 

 

6 february - Zero raptors day

 

Today no raptors passed the Eilat mountains. The western wind was probably the cause of that. Raptors were seen migrating north of Eilat at K94, also hundreds of Alpine and Pallid Swifts.

Raptors need face wind to cross the Gulf of Suez and follow their route along Gulf of Aqaba, with a western wind they choose to follow the Gulf of Suez and then fly through Suez in northeastern direction. The mass of this raptor stream are seen then in the Dead Sea region.

 

But at the counting stations there are plenty of birds. Today White-crowned wheatear, Sand partridge, Desert lark, Hooded wheatear, Blackstart, Brown-necked raven and Tristram’s starlings were seen.

 

The resident birds are also enjoyable, with a wintering group of 30+ Sinai rosefinches, 8 species of herons and drinking Lichtenstein’s sandgrouses at K19 sewage ponds, 500+ Flamingo’s at K20 saltpans. In that region also an Imperial eagle and Barbary falcon.

 

 

7 february

 

The western wind continued today and brought a lot of clouds and cold air, in the mountains the temperature dropped till 10°C, also rain appeared early in the morning.

This weather condition brought no raptor migration at the two counting stations, but some flocks of Pallid swifts were seen flying north.

 

In the city itself also no migratory birds were reported, the parks were mostly empty with just some Sardinian Warblers and Common Chiffchaffs. The Striated heron at the Dolphin reef is still present at the docks.

But, the weather forecast looks good for the upcoming week! Tomorrow the wind will turn in northeastern direction and temperature will climb to 20+ degrees.

 

 

 

 

 

8 february

 

Today the wind changed to north and the temperature was higher than yesterday, around 20 degrees. This effected the amount of migrating raptors immediately. In the mountains 40 Steppe eagles, 1 Black kite, 1 Long-legged buzzard and a small amounts of Pallid swifts were counted. Above the Eilat bird sanctuary a Booted eagle flew north.

In the upcoming week the weather will remain stable and we can expect more migrating birds!

 

 

9 february - Season’s first!

 

Today a satisfying (for this time of the year) amount of 45 Steppe Eagels passed at the two raptor counting stations in the Eilat mountains. A pleasant surprise today in the mountains was seasons first Black-Stork! Every year thousands of Black Storks migrate through the Eilat mountains, but seeing the first is always nice.

Also the first Temminck’s Stint for the Eilat region was found at the IBRCE birding sanctuary. In an attempt to find this early Temminck's stint, this beautiful adult summer Pallas's Gull flew by North!

 

 

10 february - Best Steppe Eagle day so far this season!

 

This morning the temperature in the Eilat mountains were barely above ten degrees, it was very cloudy and the sun couldn’t penetrate the dense clouds. How would this effect the raptor migration today?

When arrived at the two counting stations immediately Steppe Eagles were flying very low against the strong northern wind. After 9 o‘clock a constant wide spread front of Steppe eagles were flying everywhere. With one person on the low station and two on high we almost couldn’t handle all the birds and the large area that needed to be checked. Until 12 o‘clock the madness kept on coming! And to make things easier there were flying hundreds of Pallid Swifts in between. Our focus was of course on counting the Eagles, but today a minimum of 500+ Pallid Swifts passed the Eilat mountains. At the end of the day over 200 Steppe Eagles passed the two counting stations.

At the IBRCE birding sanctuary the first Godwit was seen for the Eilat region and at North beach also the first White-cheeked tern. The Brown Booby’s were still present at the buoys on North beach.

 

11 february

 

Today clear skies and a northeastern wind, ideal conditions for migrating raptors! In the morning hours most of the Steppe Eagles were seen, because they flew relatively low. A total of 86 Steppe Eagles passed through the Eilat Mountains today. Also 2 Black Storks, and in the afternoon big groups of swallows migrating north. 450+ Pallid Swifts and 200+ House Martins.

This morning an Eurasian stone-curlew flew over North Beach.

 

12 february - Raptors are coming!

 

Today the lovely weather continued, clear blue skies and the temperature was about 24 degrees. These conditions could only mean one thing, raptors!

That resulted in: 271 Steppe eagles, 6 Steppebuzzards, the first two Short-toed eagles and the first Lesser kestrel of this season. Late in the afternoon the numbers dropped and the last hour it was quiet. Also a new species for the counting post visited today. Two Streaked scrub warblers, they were present for five minutes.

At the K20 Saltpans an Osprey was present and the numbers of Little stints are growing (140+).

 

13 february - 1 hour wave of raptors

 

It was a sunny saturday today and the temperature raised till 28 degrees Celsius on the counting spots. The results of today: 200+ Steppe eagles (90% between 12:30 - 13:30), 3 Steppebuzzards and a Short-toed eagle. The raptor numbers are stable with now every day above 200+ birds.

At Wadi Shlomo 1 Cyprus warbler was found and at the bird sanctuary saltpans 4 Caspian terns were present.

 


 

14 february - Best eagle day so far!

 

Yesterday it was a very hot day for this time of the year. It was around 30 degrees and there was a northern wind. The next days this hot weather will continue. The results of yesterday where very good: 600+ Steppe eagles, one Steppebuzzard and two Long-legged buzzards. It was the best day so far this counting season and at one moment more than 100 Eagles crossed the bay in 15 minutes. For the total result of this day: http://trektellen.nl/count/view/1690/20160214

 

15 february - Raptor variety increases

 

Today there was a strong northern wind (5bft). The skies were filled with dust and that didn’t make things easier. The results of today: 194 Steppe eagles, 1 Imperial eagle, 1 Short-toed eagle, 1 Lesser kestrel and 5 Steppebuzzards. At the bird sanctuary they caught 1 Eurasian robin and 1 Blackbird. Still no sign of any other migrants around Eilat.

 

16 february - Hot days!

 

This week it is warm for this time of the year, the whole week temperatures will rise above 30 degrees, today the temperature in the Eilat mountains raised till 33 degrees celsius. Because of this high temperatures, raptors were flying very high today, but the northern wind pushed them a bit lower so a reasonable amount of 243 Steppe Eagles were counted, also 2 Short-toed eagles and 3 Steppebuzzards.

At the bird sanctuary saltpans the first Greater sand plovers of this season were seen, 7 birds showed well.

 

17 february - Raptor migration is on!

 

Today it was a hot day in Eilat and the temperature raised to 34 degrees. These conditions will continue till sunday. The raptor migration is pretty good at the moment because of the good conditions. The results of today: 465 Steppe Eagles, 2 Long-legged Buzzards, 6 Short-toed Eagles, 3 Steppebuzzards and also some Pallid swifts.

 

18 february - Spring is starting!

 

Today at the bird sanctuary in Eilat the first Little crake of the season was trapped and ringed. When releasing the ringed bird a second Little crake showed up. Also the first Reed Warblers already arrived and Chiffchaff’s started to sing.

At the raptor counting stations in the Eilat mountains a total of 544 Steppe eagles passed. For total results check:

 

Low mountain: http://trektellen.nl/count/view/1690/20160218

High mountain: http://trektellen.nl/count/view/1689/20160218

 

 

 

19 february - Spring is slowly moving north

 

Yesterday there was some movement of early migrating birds like Little crake and Reed warbler. Today the first Rüppell’s warbler, Red-rumped swallow and Sand martin were seen around Eilat. Also the first Little bittern of the season was seen at the IBRCE bird sanctuary.

Waders and Caspian terns

 

At the IBRCE salt pans the numbers of waders are rising. Today several Black-tailed godwits, four Caspian terns and one Pallas’ gull were present.

Raptor count in the Eilat mountains

Today the wind started NE and later it turned south. This wind affected the amount of Steppe eagles and (only) 75 eagles were counted today. That is a massive decrease with the days before.

 

20 February

 

Steppe eagles on the move and more early migrating birds!

It is already 20 February and bit by bit more birds are moving north. Today the first Eurasian blackcap was caught at the IBRCE ringing station and the first Eurasian golden oriole was seen in Eilat.

 

Raptor survey in the Eilat mountains:

Last night a sandstorm rushed over Eilat, the effects of it were noticeable this morning. The visibility was bad but the Steppe Eagles didn’t really seem to care about it, with an total of 475. The first migrating Marsh harrier and Red-rumped swallows for the counting stations were seen.

 

Also a rare sighting of an adult Bonelli’s eagle today south of the Low station. Probably the Bonelli’s eagle is still around somewhere in the Eilat mountains. The expectations for tomorrow are high because most of the eagles were seen in the last hours of the day and the wind will still blow from northeastern direction.

 

 

 

 

Today’s raptor counting results:

Low mountain: http://trektellen.nl/count/view/1690/20160220

High mountain: http://trektellen.nl/count/view/1689/20160220

 

21 february - A good start of the day

 

For a good birding start of the day in Eilat, the IBRCE bird sanctuary and the parks around Eilat are good options.

Holland park

At the moment it is relatively quiet but this will change very quickly when more migrating birds are on their way. Holland park is a great park with a lot of bushes, trees and small drinking pools for birds. Species that can easily be seen at the moment are Little green bee-eater, Sardinian warblers, Sand partridges, Palestine sunbirds and many more. Today an male Cyprus warbler was seen at Holland Park.

Raptor count in the Eilat mountains

In the morning the raptors flew very well, but in the afternoon the wind changed in an (north)western direction an strengthened to 5bft. This changed the direction of the raptors. A total of 93 Steppe eagles were counted, also the numbers of Red-rumped swallows and Pallid swifts are growing.

 

22 February - New wave of migrating birds

 

Ringing at the IBRCE Eilat

At the IBRCE birding sanctuary in Eilat they started last week with catching and ringing birds for scientific research. Today they caught two new species for this season, one male Rüppels Warbler and four Lesser Whitethroats. They also caught more Common Whitethroats (10) than yesterday.

 

Raptor migration in the Eilat mountains

Today the Steppe eagles flew a bit more west of the Eilat mountains because of a strong western wind and some rain. Today a total of 124 Steppe eagles were counted on both stations. Almost all Eagles flew by between 16:00 - 17:00. Except of the passing raptors also a group of 19 Black storks were seen, and the numbers of swifts and swallows are rising.

Results of the counting on the Low station: http://trektellen.nl/count/view/1690/20160222

 

 

23 February - One of the best days for Steppe eagles this year

 

Today the Steppe eagles started flying really well and in the first hours over 200 Steppe Eagles were counted until 12 o’clock. In the afternoon the eagles seemed to be disappeared above the clouds and they stayed there until 16.00h.

 

From 16.00h the eagles came visible again because they flew lower, until sundown 400+ Steppe eagles were counted. It’s possible hundreds of Steppe eagles were missed because they flew too high. Let’s hope for some clouds and a strong northern wind to push them down!

 

Today at the IBRCE the first Savi’s warbler of the season was caught and ringed. The numbers of Lesser and common whitethroats are still rising. The weather conditions are great for migrating birds so the numbers and species will rise quickly!

 

24 February - Bushes are getting fuller

 

Today at Holland Park, the bushes started to fill with a new wave of migrating birds. Mostly sylvia’s like Lesser and Common whitethroats and also small numbers of Cyprus and Rüppell's warblers. Also the numbers off Chiffchaffs and Spanish sparrows are rising.

Raptor count in the Eilat Mountains

Today a total of 732 Steppe eagles were counted, most of the raptors were seen before 13h. The peak day is nearby! Also the numbers of Steppe buzzards are starting to rise, today 44 Steppe buzzards migrated north.

 

25 February - First Egyptian vulture of this season and butterflies everywhere

 

Raptor survey in the mountains

Today was a good day for raptor migration in the Eilat mountains with another 700+ Steppe eagles, Black kites, Steppe buzzards, Black and White storks, Short-toed eagles and the first Egyptian vulture for this season right over the counters at the low station.

Butterflies everywhere

 

 

 

 

Everywhere around Eilat and the Negev desert there are butterflies at the moment, because of the heavy rainfall last October the desert is full blooming! Flowers are coloring the desert now and at that spots you can find hundreds of butterflies and migrating dragonfly’s.

Most of the butterflies you can find at the moment are Painted Lady’s. Other species that were seen are: Desert White’s, Little Tiger Blue, Greenish Black-tip, Scarce Green-striped White, Colotis phisadia and African monarch. The dragonfly’s that are mostly seen are Vagrant Emperor’s.

 

26 February - The big days are near

 

Today the Steppe eagles flew through the Eilat Mountains in large numbers, with an astonishing number of almost 1,400 individuals! Further sightings were noted in the form of the first Pallid harrier and second Egyptian vulture this season.

 

Short-toed Eagles, Imperial Eagle and Black Kites were observed as well, a great day! Birds were flying everywhere and it was a nice challenge to pick out other species. The peak days still have to start but these numbers are high already for this time of the year. Let’s hope for more!

 

 

 

 

27th and 28th of February - UNEXPECTED VISITOR!

 

Yesterday and today the migration slowed down a bit in the Eilat mountains. An Egyptian Vulture caused a stir at the lower station yesterday but the real star proved to be a second calender year GOLDEN EAGLE that was seen today by the volunteers at the high station. A real stunner as it came quite close and migrated north. Although the species tends to be not that rare in most parts of the Western Palearctic, Golden Eagle is a very rare visitor to the southern part of Israël and a real ‘good one’ on the stations.

 

This bird clearly shows characteristics of the subspecies ‘homeyeri’ which is the resident race occurring in the Iberian peninsula, North Africa and the Middle East towards Uzbekistan. This by the very little white in the remiges that is normally more distinct in the nominate.

What else is out there? Verreaux’s maybe? We’ll see tomorrow!

 

Birding in Eilat and its surroundings proved to be lovely as well the last days with at least 6 Oriental Skylarks being present at the Yotvata fields, now 3 Black Bush Robins at Hai Bar, Syrian Serins and Pallid Scops Owls at Wadi Grofit, a very early Garden Warbler that was seen at Holland Park and the first Gull-billed Tern this year being present at the Bird Sanctuary.

 

 

 

 

29th of February - SPRING IS NOW IN FULL SWING!

 

We can’t ignore it anymore… Not only the raptors but the passerines as well are now definitely on the move! Regarding the prior today was a good day again with 800+ Steppe Eagles migrating across the Gulf of Akaba. Birds flew high today, very high!

 

Big flocks of Steppes were noted sometimes when they were already soaring above our heads, only visible as little dots with the naked eye. Love it! Another Egyptian Vulture pleased the volunteers at the low station and after a weak start the high station could enjoy the passage of raptors as well as it got crazy there after 3:00 PM. Temperatures are going mental for the time of the year with 35°C noted on both stations.

 

Regarding the passerines the first Eastern Bonelli's warbler was ringed today at the IBRCE while reports of the first Cretzschmar’s Buntings are coming in from the immediate area of Eilat. A freshly-arrived party of Garganeys was feeding as well on the salt pans of the Bird Sanctuary and the very early Garden Warbler was observed again this morning at Holland Park

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Yesterday the volunteers witnessed a spectacular fight at K20 between an adult female Marsh Harrier and an Slender-billed Gull. The latter got caught and lost the battle. Nature at its hardest!

 

1st of March - STEPPE DAY!

 

After some quiet days, the migration of Steppe Eagles peaked again today with the highest number of migrating individuals noted so far! No less than 1,462 Steppe Eagles migrated across the Gulf of Akaba today. It all started on the lower station with a very high stream of birds that slowly drifted towards the high station in the afternoon.

 

Hard times for the counters though with extreme temperatures (35°C!) registered for here as well. Not the slightest breeze was present to bring some coolness to the counters. And the forecast for tomorrow doesn’t look like it’s going to be very different…

 

 

 

 

At the circular fields of Yotvata at least 3 Oriental Skylarks proved to be still present and got observed well today by the raptor team. One of the long-staying adult Imperial Eagles was found roosting there on one of the pylons as well.

Another day tomorrow!

 

2nd of March - SLOW MIGRATION!

 

After yesterday’s madness, the migration slowed down again to a level that reminded us to a few weeks back. Tough times! The first bird of the day at the high station was yet again a nice adult Egyptian Vulture that flew passed us, but the Steppe Eagles took a day off. Our volunteers didn’t manage to go over 100 birds on both stations combined… Let’s see what tomorrow brings though!

 

Two of our volunteers managed to locate a new flock of Syrian Serins that’s wintering in a wadi near the high station. Another surprise were the three Hill Sparrows they managed to find in the area as well. The weather forecast for tomorrow predicts some clouds. Might cause some change again… At the IBRCE the first Black-headed Wagtails were seen and the number of waders is increasing. Tomorrow’s another day!

 

 

 

 

3th of March - FIRST FALL!

 

A lot of clouds in the Arava valley and Eilat today, which lowered the temperatures a bit, a true relief for the volunteers. However, the north winds didn’t produce the desired result as there were only 300 Steppe Eagles counted.

BUT the main thing today was the first real fallout of passerines, probably because of the clouds that came in yesterday afternoon. The circular fields of Yotvata yielded a flock of 41 Red-throated Pipits, 50+ Bluethroats,a few Greater Short-toed Larks, etc. However, the real discovery of the day was done by two volunteers of the raptor team who explored the Ovda valley.

 

A massive flock of at least (but probably more) 224 PALE ROCK SPARROWS was located by them. The birds were singing all together and foraging as well. A truly astonishing number of this highly nomadic and hard-to-get species in the Western Palearctic. Wonder if they’ll breed here… A Cream-colored Courser and at least 3 Temminck’s Horned Larks were present as well.

 

 

 

 

At the salt pannes of the IBRCE yet another volunteer managed to locate a Mediterranean Gull, together with at least two Pallas’s Gulls. This species is usually restricted to the Mediterranean Sea and only rarely reaches as far south as the Gulf of Akaba. A really good one!

 

 

4th and 5th of March - WIND TURBINE SURVEYS

 

Since two days, our volunteers are conducting a survey at the Bird Sanctuary regarding the impact that windmills could have on the migration in the Arava valley. All the passing birds are noted down, in all directions. Especially local movements from and to Jordan are important since the windmill project would be realized in the safe zone between the two countries. Noteworthy observations here included a 2cy Pallas’s Gull, Long-legged Buzzard, 400+ Steppe Eagles, 7 Glossy Ibises, 4 Short-toed Eagles…

 

However, the real surprise was a migrating LITTLE CRAKE during daytime (2:00pm) that literally crashed behind one of our volunteers. Luckily it survived its rather rough landing and managed to reach the pond of the bird sanctuary. An insane observation if one keeps in mind that rails migrate during the night. Most likely, it miscalculated its trip across the Sinaï and couldn’t find a place to land. What’s next?

 

In the mountains the diversity is increasing, with multiple Egyptian Vultures, Short-toed Eagles and Black Kites migrating today. Once again, the Steppe Eagles reached the 700. For the results of the counting at the low station check http://trektellen.org/count/view/1690/20160305

The ringing at the IBRCE experienced the arrival of a few new species, with at least 7 Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers seen and ringed, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and after a week of absence there were now 20 Dead Sea Sparrows.

 

 


 

6 March 2016 - STEPPE BUZZARDS TAKING OVER

 

After today, the Steppe Eagles are definitely losing terrain! Our volunteers had a great start this morning with hundreds off birds passing in the first hours. Especially the Black Storks had their first good day with a total of 261 that passed right after 9:00 AM. For Steppe Eagle the number reached over 700, Steppe Buzzard 1,450. The diversity is increasing and so is the number if birds. BRING IT!

 

Visiting birders from the UK already reported a Masked Shrike and multiple Cretzschmar’s Buntings from around Eilat. Our volunteers managed found a Common Rock Thrush as well. Spring is happening!

 


 

9 March 2016 - 15.000th STEPPE EAGLE THIS SEASON AND A KITTIWAKE!

 

Raptor survey in the Eilat Mountains

The last three days 2221 Steppe Eagles flew through the Eilat Mountains including todays 15.000th Steppe Eagle for this season. The numbers of Steppe Buzzard raised rapidly and the volunteers counted 4912 in the last three days. Every day the variatie and numbers of species seem to increase with more Black Storks, Black Kites, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Egyptian Vulture, Pallid Harrier etc.

 

Spring migration in Eilat

Last days a new wave of migrating birds arrived in the southern parts of Israel. Several Masked Shrikes were observed, as well as the first Woodchat Shrikes. The number of Red-Throated Pipit’s, (Yellow) Wagtail, Eastern Orphean Warblers, Northern Wheatears and numbers of waders are increasing.

 

KITTIWAKE at the IBRCE!

Every evening one of our volunteers does an evening count at the salt pannes of the IBRCE. This already yielded good numbers of waders, gulls, pipit’s etc. Today he, Anders Odd Wulff Nielsen, found a (2cy) KITTIWAKE in between hunderds of Black-headed and Slender-billed Gulls. A true rarity in Israel with just one or two records each year.

 

10th of March - AUSTRAL VISITOR!

 

Yet another day in the Eilat spring migration that’s still on a rather slow level for the time of the year. Things are about to happen soon though! Today once again some migratory birds that weren’t really expected were noted in Eilat and its surroundings. First there was the ridiculously early observation of a Honey Buzzard that migrated over the IBRCE this morning and got seen by two of our volunteers… Crazy!

 

The raptor count in the mounting went again very slow today, but busy days are just around the corner.

The Se’Ifim-plain showed that it will be thé place-to-be this year together with the green meadows the nearby Ovda plains now consist out. A Bimaculated Lark gave away good views there today and possibly even (Arabian) Dunn’s Larks were heard by Itai and his crew. Flocks of Hill Sparrows were present there as well with numbers reaching in the 40’s. Things WILL happen here this year!

 

Tonight, all our volunteers met at North Beach and had a good time watching birds there. A few very large flocks of migrating Northern Pintails were seen with some Eurasian Wigeons and Garganeys. While everyone was checking the flocks of ducks, Anders arrived a bit later and in front of everyone once again found a seabird, just as he did the day before. This time it was a Sooty Shearwater that gave away excellent views as it came foraging extremely close to the shore.

A bird that found its place in the northernmost corner of the Red Sea and that’s definitely a long way from home! What’s next? Streaked Shearwater?

 

 


 

11th of March - THICK-BILLS AND MORE

 

A diverse day at the counting posts today! Our volunteers had fun with good numbers of Steppe Buzzard (2362) and Steppe Eagle (870). Other goodies included the first Alpine Swift (finally!) for our stations, Egyptian Vulture (1), Long-legged Buzzard (1), Osprey (5), Short-toed Eagle (13) and a big flock of Baltic Gulls (78) including an adult summer Pallas’ Gull which could be picked up from the high station after a text from our dearest Chen Rozen! Jonathan Meyrav was able to pick up a Lesser Spotted Eagle above the city of Eilat while guiding a group there. This bird was added to the count as well.

 

Shachar had a great morning as well today and found a few Thick-billed Larks near KM82. A good record but there are probably more on the way since the desert is booming with birds! Wait ’n see… At Ovda, our volunteers had a big flock of Red-throated Pipits (100+), 6 Bimaculated Larks and a flock of at least 32 Hill Sparrows.

 

 

 

 

North Beach didn’t yield anything new tonight but the Sooty Shearwater was still around and the Brown Boobies gave away a nice show while fishing. The strong winds brought a lot of dust from the Negev to Eilat this evening, resulting in very poor visibility! The Boobies didn’t care though!

 

12th of March - NUMBERS INCREASING

 

Bird migration depends on the weather, that’s clear. Today it wasn’t all too different. A clouded sky provided the excellent background for some raptor watching as the numbers of Steppe Buzzards reached their highest number so far this year. (3375) while numbers of Steppe Eagles crashed today (112). A nice male Pallid Harrier was seen at High Mountain while a migrating Cretzschmar’s Bunting was a new species for the counting station there as well. This all together with Ospreys, Alpine Swift, Long-legged Buzzard, Egyptian Vulture, …

 

KM82 seems the place to be the last couple of days with again the Thick-billed Larks recorded there today. Hundreds of Lesser Whitethroats, a dozen of Woodchat Shrikes and the sudden presence of Namaqua Dove at multiple sites in the Arava valley proves that spring is developing at fast speed. Se’Ifim Plain hosted 5 Cream-coloured Coursers as well this morning.

 

13th March - BAD WEATHER, GOOD RESULTS!

 

Today started really slowly with just a couple of Steppe Buzzards and small numbers of Steppe Eagles. In the afternoon, rain clouds closed in on us and made the passage of raptors drop to zero. Unexpectedly, around 3:30h the madness began! Large flocks of raptors had been stopped by the rain and now came through all together.

The next hour, things went crazy with mixed flocks consisting of mainly Steppe Buzzards (3000+), Steppe Eagles (30+), Black Storks, Black Kites, over 20 Pallid Harriers, Marsh Harrier and a Lesser-Spotted Eagle! Southern winds are strong at the moment so it’s yet again just guessing what we’ll see tomorrow.

 

The diversity and number of species is slowly increasing at the ringing station with Rüppell’s Warblers, Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers, Reed Warblers, Blackcap’s etc. caught today. The Ringing results can now also found on Trektellen.org. For today’s results: http://trektellen.nl/count/view/1706/20160313

In the evening it was once again Anders who had a nice flock of 9 Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters passing over the IBRCE. Where’s the White-fronted? We’re expecting!

 

14th of March – BLACK STORKS!

 

Strong winds and most of all intense dust storms made it hard to find any birds for our counters today. In the mountains the highest number of Black Storks this year was counted however (1001) and the first two Common Cranes passed at High Mountain today. In the afternoon the weather improved but the migration didn’t improve however. Hopefully tomorrow it does!

 

At the IBRCE the first Willow Warbler off this season was caught and ringed.

Near K20, one of our volunteers photographed this rare dark morph of Marsh Harrier today. A real stunner and definitely one of the birds to look for if you are coming to Eilat this spring!

 

15th of March - SANDSTORM

 

A short post for today since we don’t want to spend a lot of words on it. Long story short: it was a waste of time. A miserable amount of 10 birds were counted today, consisting out of 8 Black Storks and 2 Steppe Buzzards. After 10:00 AM a sandstorm hit both stations with especially the High Mountain (where Joachim was located) experienced massive dust clouds with almost no visibiliy.

 

Let’s hope things will be different tomorrow.

At the IBRCE our volunteers Anders and Heidi had an okay day with Rüppell’s Warbler, Sedge Warblers, Blackcaps and a Quail.

 

16 March - CRESTED HONEY BUZZARD!

 

Last week one of our volunteers at the IBRCE reported a Honey Buzzard flying over the park. It was a short and early observation which already raised questions if it could be its eastern nephew, known to have a broader migration period. Today Chen Rozen saw it again and after a short chase could relocate the bird there. It indeed turned out to be a Crested Honey Buzzard, a most-wanted oriental bird in the WP and definitely a stunner!

 

Together with some volunteers, Chen located the bird sitting in the palm plantation. Regarding last week's observation, this could be a wintering bird just as the years before when (probably the same individual) was seen and photographed by multiple birders in the date plants north of the IBRCE. Let's hope it just stays around a little longer so the upcoming Eilat Bird Festival can enjoy it as well!

 

In the mountains it was quite a slow day again but on High Mountain they had some good migration of White Storks in the afternoon. The first Tree Pipits seem to dripple through as well the last days! With the rather slow migration of yesterday and today, tomorrow might hit jackpot... Wait 'n see!

 

18th of March - BLACK KITES, (LITLLE) SWIFTS AND MANY MORE!

 

Today the volunteers in the Eilat mountains had their first good day for migrating swifts and Black kites. In the first hour of the count hundreds of swifts passed the two counting stations. What makes it a real challenge for the volunteers is that there are flying 4 species of swifts, but despite the challenge they managed to pick out three LITTLE SWIFTS.

Black Kites had also their first good day with a day total of 714! Also mentionable was the sighting of two (both 2cy) Imperial Eagles and a 2cy Bonelli’s Eagle that flew south, mobbed by a Brown-necked raven. Total results of today’s count: http://trektellen.nl/count/daytotals/15/-1/20160318…&

Yesterday morning there was a sighting of a Ménétries's warbler at Holland Park, this species is an uncommon migrant in Eilat and also very hard to see.

 

19 MARCH - 12 DIFFERENT RAPTOR SPECIES

 

The good numbers from yesterday continued today, especially in the morning with many raptor species migrated through the Eilat mountains. The amounts of Steppebuzzards and Black kites are increasing rapidly what resulted in a total of 8829 Steppebuzzards and 986 Black kites. Still 201 Steppe eagles passed the counters today and also 9 Short-toed eagles, 9 Booted eagles and 1 Egyptian vulture were seen. For the total results see: http://trektellen.nl/count/daytotals/15/-1/20160319…&

At the ringing station of the IBRCE our volunteers Anders and Heidi had a good day with a Masked shrike and a Rüppells’s warbler.

 

21th of March - A NEW WAVE OF SONG BIRDS

 

During the last two days, the bird migration in Eilat could easily be felt while walking through any green spot in the area... There are birds literally everywhere! Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats are abundant and can be found in almost every bush while duck migration brought massive flocks of predominantly Garganey to North Beach, as well as Northern Shoveler and Pintail. Our volunteers at the IBRCE experienced their first real big day with 113 birds of 20 different species in their nets this morning!

 

The second Semicollared Flycatcher this spring was caught, as well as Masked Shrike, Subalpine - and Orphean Warbler and many more. Their results can be consulted on Trektellen: http://trektellen.nl/count/view/1706/20160321…& A lot of birders are in Eilat at the moment since the Birds Festival is taking place this week.

 

With this mass of birders present, it's just a matter of time since a massive rarity will be found! In the mountains, our counters received a lot of help from these visiting birders as well. Unfortunately, raptor migration once again was quite slow today but a nice adult Lesser Spotted Eagle got picked up from both stations.

 

 

 

 

22th of March - SPRING IS IN FULL SWING!

 

The Eilat Spring Festival is in full spring and so is spring! It took a while before it finally broke loose but the last few days we were overwhelmed with birds. In the high mountains our volunteers had a good day again with good numbers of White and Black Storks, Steppe Buzzards and so on. A big wave of birds didn’t show itself until 4:00 PM, causing a massive evening peak in the migration.

 

At the IBRCE the first Common Nightingale of the season was ringed today while Ortolan and Cretzschmar’s Buntings were there as well. Different Ospreys were around in the area with hunting birds at both K20 and K19. There was a report as well of a Black-shouldered Kite south of Be’er Ora but this was not confirmed yet.

 

Good news as well! Although no one responded to our cry for help regarding our participation to Champions of the Flyway, we were able to put together a team with the help and support of our dearest collegues. The IBRCE-team is called ‘The Flying Dutchmen’ and their page can be consulted using this link: http://www.champions-of-the-flyway.com/the-flying-dutchmen/

 

 

 

The Flying Dutchmen!

 

The volunteers of the IBRCE are participating in one of the most unique races in the world, called the CHAMPIONS OF THE FLYWAY!

The goal of this race is to see as much bird species in 24 hours in the Negev. But, the main purpose of doing this race is much more important! All the competing teams try to raise as much money as possible for the protection of migrating birds.

 

Every year millions of birds are illegally killed around the Mediterranean sea on their way back to the north. BirdLife International is trying to stop this by raising awareness and fundraising.

 

 

 

 

This year the raised money goes to BirdLife International Greece. Feel free to visit the Champions of the flyway website for more information about the race, our team, and the donations. If you care about the migratory birds on their way home and their well-being, please donate and support! We and the birds would be very thankful. http://www.champions-of-the-flyway.com/the-flying-dutchmen/

 

24 March - FLYCATCHERS, BUZZARDS, BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATERS AND MORE!

 

Last two days the migration was noticeable everywhere around Eilat, but especially in the sky. With over 32.000 Steppe Buzzard alone, the volunteers of the IBRCE had a busy time counting all the raptors that were passing the Eilat mountains.

A lot of birders are in Eilat for the Bird festival and that means more eyes and more new species! Yesterday at Lotan there was a BLACK BUSH ROBIN and today there was a COLLARED FLYCATCHER. At K82 there was the first Rufous-tailed scrub robin and still one Thick billed lark.

 

The IBRCE (International Birding and research center Eilat) was once again one of the top locations for birding. With five BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATERS, Wrynecks, Masked Shrikes, Little Bitterns and the first Baillon’s crake of this season a great location to start your day! Ringing is also really busy at the moment with a lot of interesting species among them: http://trektellen.nl/count/view/1706/20160323


 

 

 

28th March - IT JUST KEEPS ON GOING!

 

The last three days the bird migration around Eilat was just insane! With hundreds of birders in Eilat for the Birdfestival and Champions of the Flyway no bird stays unnoticed. With the first Wood warblers, Nightjars, Great Reed Warblers, Pratincoles and Greater White Pelicans and new waves of migrants just keep on coming.

 

For the last few days the raptors just kept on going with over 50.000 Steppe buzzards! Not only raptors were seen but also CRANES, BLUE CHEEEKED BEEEATERS, LESSER and GREATER SPOTTED EAGLES and many more! For the great results of last two days click on this link:

http://trektellen.nl/count/daytotals/15/-1/20160327 .

 

 

 

 

Yesterday the official opening of THE CHAMPIONS OF THE FLYWAY took place at the IBRCE Birdwatching Park in Eilat. All the competing team presented themselves as well as this year’s IBRCE team The Flying Dutchmens. The last preparations were done today and at 00.00 tonight the 24 hour race for conservation will begin. Please visit our website and donate if you care about birds and you want illegal killing to be stopt! http://www.champions-of-the-flyway.com/the-flying-dutchmen/

 

30th March - SECOND PLACE IN CHAMPIONS OF THE FLYWAY!

 

With 171 bird species in 24 hour we (the volunteers of the IBRCE) are very proud off our result! We are very happy we could participate in this amazing race for conservation and meet all the 40 other teams from all over the world.

With a new record of donations and a lot more awareness to stop illegal bird killing we can say this year was a success!

 

 

 

31 March - LAST DAY OF LOW MOUNTAIN

 

Following the protocol Low mountain closes at one April and only counting station High mountain stays open. On low mountain there was counted from the first of February until today. Low mountain is the best counting station to see (Steppe) Eagles. Even today Low mountain provided a unexpected species a SQUACCO HERON.

 

Total results, day records and all the species that were seen can be found here:http://www.trektellen.nl/site/totals/1690/2016/0…& For the last two day there were over 220 bird species seen around Eilat and the Negev.

With some real good species as: Isabelian Shrike, Golden Eagle, Cinereous Bunting and Mediterranean Gull.

 

3 April - SKY HIGH MIGRATION

 

For the last two days the temperatures in Eilat raised above 30 degrees, and that means that raptor migration is picking up early and they go up really quickly. In the first hours 2500 Steppebuzzards were counted by the IBRCE raptor counting team.

 

After 11 o’clock the raptors flew to high to see with the naked eye or with binoculars. Only with a scope it was possible to pick up streams of Buzzard, Black Kites, Steppe Eagles and more. One of the volunteers picked up two extremely high groups of Common Cranes (49 & 39). And just when the volunteers were closing the station a juvenile BONNELI’S EAGLE flew south!

 

 

4th of April - THE FIRST HONNEYBUZZARD, 35.000 STEPPE BUZZARDS, CRANES AND MORE!

 

For the last three weeks migration of songbirds, waders and raptors around Eilat is on full swing. There were some good days with raptor migration for the last weeks, but that one day with 100.000 STEPPE BUZZARDS didn’t show up yet. But, today could be the day before that 100.000 day, with 35.000 Steppe buzzards passing the Eilat mountains today it could be a sign for tomorrow..

 

With groups of 500+ mixed with STEPPE EAGLES, BLACK KITES and sometimes HARRIES and BOOTED EAGLE there was never a dull moment in the mountains. Among all these thousands of raptors the counters of the IBRCE picked out the first HONNEYBUZZARD of the season! For an overview of today check: http://trektellen.nl/count/view/1689/20160404

 

At the International Birding and Research Center Eilat (IBRCE) it was busy as always. At the park there were a lot of bird to found such as two SEMI COLLARED FLYCATCHERS, several WRYNECK’S, GREAT REED WARBLERS, HOOPOE etc.

 

Today 15 species were ringed this morning http://trektellen.nl/count/view/1706/20160404

At K20 - a big salt pannes complex north of Eilat, the numbers of shorebirds change every day, even every hour! That makes the saltpans of K20 one of the most interesting location for birds around Eilat. With species as RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, PRATINCOLES and CURLEW SANDPIPER definitely a place to visit!

 

THE STARS OF THE NIGHT!

 

The Arava Valley offers the chance to see some of the rarest desert birds with Desert Tawny Owl and Nubian Nightjar being the most enigmatic. Guided tours are arranged and leave from Eilat. Within two days one of these tours start, and there is still place for more persons!

 


 

5th of April - BLACK-BUSH ROBIN, MENETRIES WARBLER AND RAPTORS

 

Today one of the volunteers (Ben Barkley) found during a survey for the IBRCE a BLACK BUSH ROBIN in downtown Eilat, urban surveys rock! Near Yotvata a MENETRIES WARBLER was found but really hard to track down.

The same person found a Baillon’s Crake at Ketura sewage, if one person can find that at one day, what else is out there?!

Raptor migration in the Eilat mountains kept on going very well until 15.00h.

 


 

 

April 10th

 

The last few days have seen an oppressively hot climate settle over Eilat and the southern Arava, and a depressingly slow migration as a result (with the exception of one interesting morning with some solid diurnal migration: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S28790038).

 

However, while there haven't been a ton of new birds coming in, the birds that have already been here are reaping the rewards of the rainy winter. The rarer larks in particular are having a breeding bonanza. Greater Hoopoe-Lark and Thick-billed Larks have both been observed bringing food to young or nests in the area very recently, which is great news for these scarce-in-the-region species.

 

On the migration front, the heat (and today's humidity, hopefully!) will start to break tomorrow, and by Tuesday the high temperature will have dropped more than 10 degrees C from yesterday's high. We're all hoping that this opens the floodgates for the next big wave. Bring on the battalions of Blackcaps!

 

April 12th

 

Although the high numbers of the next wave of migrants are not there yet, once again a variety of new migratory birds arrived in Eilat today. During the early morning ringing session at the IBRCE, our volunteers had multiple exciting observations.

 

First of all a Corncrake was found foraging around the watering installation and showed ridiculously well. Only minutes later a White-winged Tern flew over their heads, and later in the day three of these beauties were on K20. Around 9:30 a huge adult female Crested Honey Buzzard circled up above the park and disappeared in the direction of Jordan. A good start of the day to say the least…

 

 

 

 

In the mountains it was a calm day again though the numbers improved again with 1500+ Steppe Buzzards, two Honey Buzzards, a male Montagu’s Harrier, increasing numbers of Levant Sparrowhawks and so on.

At North Beach heavy migration started in the evening, with Garganeys dominating, though most noteworthy were flocks of 9 Long-tailed Jaegers and 4 Eurasian Oystercatcher.

 

April 13th

 

The other shoe has finally dropped for this weather system. This morning, the IBRCE was full of birds, and they ended up ringing almost 200 individuals, with almost half being Blackcaps:http://www.trektellen.nl/count/view/1706/20160413.

 

The first Barred Warblers, and Garden Warbler of the season were ringed as well. In a bizarre twist, Joachim Bertrands had a Black Bush Robin fly into and bounce out of one of the nets as he was extracting Blackcaps. He also had 3 Eurasian Hobbys migrating north over the park.

The ground survey in the central Arava also turned up good numbers of several species, most notably Collared Flycatchers, with a minimum of 56 Collared Flycatchers seen and heard at Neot Smadar alone (in addition to over 800 of the now ubiquitous everywhere Blackcaps)! European Turtle-Doves have now suddenly arrived in numbers, as they get into position to navigate the brutal maze of traps and guns along the next stage of their migration through the Mediterranean region.

 

While the sheer numbers of individuals was the real story for passerines, the raptor show filled the diversity void. Ben Barkley, with the afternoon help of newly arrived volunteer Ian Butler, ended up tallying 17 species of raptor from the Hawkwatch, the highlight of which was a late-day Crested (Oriental) Honey-Buzzard:http://www.trektellen.nl/count/view/1689/20160413

This despite some challenging windy/rainy conditions.

Spring is here! Go Birding!

 

 

 

16th of April

 

Flycatchers are definitely on the move the last few days with still impressive numbers of Collared Flycatchers noted in Eilat and its surroundings. Pied sneaks through between its nephews while the first Spotted Flycatchers were seen as well. Another new arrival was the first Roller that showed up at Yotvata.

Also Good numbers of European Turtle Dove there with Namaqua Dove being all over the place as well now. A Little Crake showed ridiculously well in the middle of an overgrown fountain near the shopping mall of Qetura… If there’s water, there’s birds! Both Barred Warbler and Thrush Nightingale are starting to become more and more common with the first birds seen the last few days. The same for Garden Warbler.

 

Two of our volunteers went out into the desert today and confirmed breeding of both Thick-billed and Temminck’s Larks once again, great! The green wadi’s have definitely realized a good year for a number of nomadic desert species which are known to be hard to pin down.

 

In the mountains, raptor migration kicked off again with an astonishing number of 17000+ Steppe Buzzards seen. Hney Buzzards are rising in number with over 1000 recorded today! Other species included Egyptian Vulture (4), Lesser Spotted Eagle (10), Steppe Eagle (17), Levant Sparrowhawk (828), Booted Eagle (8) and a Crested Honey Buzzard although the latter might be the same bird of a few days ago, still lingering around.

 

17th of April

 

Temperatures are rising in Eilat the last few days and so did the birds. High streams of raptors were seen during most of the day above Eilat’s city center, consisting of mainly Steppe Buzzard. Booted Eagle, Black Kite and Honey Buzzard accompanied them on their way north. At High Mountain, numbers dropped a bit compared to yesterday but nevertheless an impressive total of raptors flew by. Above 8,000 Steppe Buzzards were seen while Levant Sparrowhawk seems to enter its peak days with over 1000 birds counted today.

 

At the IBRCE, the ringing was rather calm though the raptor migration was visible here as most birds passed rather low in the Arava valley today, resulting in lower numbers at High Mountain. An adult male Crested Honey Buzzard was seen during the ringing while a 2cy Imperial Eagle caused a stir around noon as well.

 

Although most birds seen in the Eilat region are still on their way to their northern breeding grounds, our local desert birds are already finishing their first breeding season. The local pair of White-crowned Wheatear at High Mountain had an important day as their young finally fledged and provided good views to the counters. News got out today that a strange lark photographed by our volunteers north of Se’Ifim turned out to be a juvenile (Arabian) Dunn’s Lark. Together with the young Thick-bill’s and Temminck’s, a first boom of young birds is around!

 

 

 

 

April 18 - WindWindWind & LevantsLevantsLEVANTS!!!

 

A strong northerly ripped through the southern Arava for most of the day, but the spectacle of migration marches on. The gusts turned the dikes at the KM 20 salt pannes into a carpet of yellow, as hundreds of Yellow Wagtails (of at least 4 taxa!) were hunkered down trying their best to stay out of the wind while making meals out of the abundant flies.

 

Meanwhile, the spectacles of late spring are starting to build: Trickles of White-winged Terns are now a daily occurrence, Honey-buzzards are becoming gradually more numerous, and Levant Sparrowhawks have already arrived with a vengeance.

Fresh migrant White-winged Terns have been coming in from the sea over North Beach each of the last two days, augmenting a few of this species which had already arrived and have been lingering around the various water features of Eilat.

We're hoping that this year's passage of this species provides the incredible spectacle that they put on every few years, and the week for that spectacle is almost upon us.

 

 

 

The day closed out with a mega flock of Levant Sparrowhawks moving through the lower Eilat Mountains before roaring through the Bird Sanctuary and the surrounding valley, driving terrified shorebirds and passerines ahead of them like humans driving cattle.

The waves of northbound shorebirds gave way to swirls of low Sparrowhawks terrorizing every creature smaller than them before they went to roost in the park and the surrounding date palm plantations. Ben counted 4,700 in this huge push, and at least 2,000 of these settled in around the IBRCE.

 

April 21- Warmth and Shorebirds.

 

We're back in a warm spell for a few days, which this time of year means that the shorebirds are trickling in and are often the highlight. Shorebird diversity saw a noticeable uptick, and a few species saw a dramatic increase in numbers. Broad-billed Sandpipers made a return after having been absent for most of the month, with multiples present at multiple locations around Eilat.

 

A flock of 29 Black-tailed Godwits was at KM 20 this evening, and the number of Red-necked Phalaropes there is now ~20. Wood Sandpipers are also coming through in good numbers, with ~40 around KM 20 this evening. Passerine migration has crawled to a snail's pace, but despite the low numbers, the bird sanctuary got a jolt of fun in the form of a Hoopoe being caught and banded.

 

 

 

 

The crowds of people will now descend upon Eilat for the week of Pesach (Passover), but they should be followed shortly by an overwhelming mass of birds once the next cold front comes through some time next week. At least the shorebirds are here for a diversion until then though!

 

Ringing data from today:

http://trektellen.nl/count/view/1706/20160421

Totals from the Hawkwatch:

http://trektellen.nl/count/view/1689/20160421


 

25th of April

 

Temperatures have been high the last few days and our volunteers had hard times conducting their surveys.

At High Mountain the migration has been extremely slow in the mornings with quite intense outbursts during the last two hours of daylight. Today wasn’t really different with over 6,000 Honey Buzzards counted in the last few hours. Hard times to sit there 13 hours a day with only birds at the end.

 

Honey Buzzards are expected to peak within a week though, so a lot is still on its way! Levant Sparrowhawks are still migrating through with lots of birds seen the last few days.

 

 

 

 

At the IBRCE itself the bird ringing has slowed down as well with only a few migrants ringed today. Highlights of the last days were some European Bee-eaters, Barred Warblers, Wrynecks but most of all a Blackcap with a ring from Norway!

After some research, news got out that the bird got ringed as a nestling last year in the northernmost part of its distribution range, on the NW-coast of Norway. Just unreal to realize this bird flew all the way to tropical Africa and is now on his way back to Scandinavia. Another interesting thing are the Corncrakes migrating through these days.

 

A few birds were ringed at the Bird Sanctuary but it's now also possible to see them foraging on the lawns in the middle of a Kibbutz as we witnessed last week at Lotan. Other good birds in the were two Red-breasted Flycatchers (one at Lotan by Anders, Heidi and Joachim and another one at KM82 by Shachar) and the White-winged Terns that have been at K20.

 

Joachim and Doug had a good afternoon today while seawatching from the South Beach area.

They had a Cory’s Shearwater that could be observed for minutes before disappearing.

 

Late spring is a good time to find real good seabirds here and one wonders what else is out there. They also had a flock of 100+ Ruffs migrating north. These birds were later seen at K20 where the wader diversity is high these days. Greater Sand Plovers have been seen there regularly now and Broad-billed Sandpipers are easy. Small flocks of Temminck’s Stint have been noted as well with 9 birds together at Anita’s Lake last week, being the biggest number so far.

 

April 26

 

The passerine and raptor numbers continued to be paltry today, as the warm weather pattern persisted. However, waterbirds are getting better by the day.

Over 500 White-winged Terns and a Great White Pelican were seen from the IBRCE just before dusk, and Jaegers of all three species have been putting on a good show from North Beach all the way down to the Taba border. Sanderling has also made a couple of appearances at the IBRCE salt pannes this week, with the latest sighting coming yesterday evening.

 

Perhaps the most remarkable spectacle of the day, however, came once again from the Eilat Field School, where the survey volunteers are staying. A flock of 30-40 Little Bitterns descended on the Field School grounds, perching in deciduous trees, flying around in ones twos and groups of up to 20, and calling frequently.

As this was happening Ben and Doug observed an Eleonora's Falcon soaring over the mountains to the west (this is a scarce, low density, migrant), which was definitely the raptor species highlight of the day in Eilat. for The eBird checklist with embedded photos click here.

 

 

 

 

9th of May - MEGA MEGA MEGA !!!

 

Eilat experiences a very strange year for birding, with low numbers of migrants in contrast to the years before and migration that continues farther northwest than usual, more close to the Mediterranean Sea. Where are the Honey Buzzards? This year so far, no big rarities got discovered yet in what’s considered as the biggest migration hotspot in the Western Palearctic.

 

On Saturday, everything changed when Eilat showed the world once again that it is indeed a place where MEGA’s pass through! It all started when Eric Didner and Pierre-Andre Crochet came down to Israël to score the Red-billed Teal for their Western Palearctic-list.

After the bird was in the pocket, they decided to drive down to Eilat and as last stop visit North Beach. A shock went through the whole birding society of Israël when news got out that they discovered the 5th CRAB PLOVER for Israël!

Shachar Shalev was there as well and together with Eric and Pierre-André observed the bird for half an hour during which it briefly sat on the beach as well! After that it started to fly around above the bay and slowly disappeared south while making returning loops once in a while. Only a few birders were able to score the bird as it made its last turn above the Gulf of Aqaba before definitely turning south. The morning after the beach was packed with birders of which some even flew in from Tel Aviv, hoping the bird would return. Unfortunately, it didn’t…

 

 

 

 

Sunday morning started and Andres and Heidi, our two ringers at the IBRCE, were just doing their daily round at the nets when they found an Acrocephalus warbler with a very distinct supercilium in the net… PADDYFIELD WARBLER! The 11th record for Israël and a consolation prize for a lot of birders that came to Eilat that morning.

The bird was ringed and released after some excellent in-hand photos were taken.

 

 

Ben and Doug went back to the Eilat Field School on Sunday afternoon and decided to seawatch on what was Doug’s last whole day in the Arava Valley. Doug managed to pick up a dark-rumped Storm-petrel that flew north at quite a distance but was clearly visible in the scope.

According to flight style, structure, and the fact it was dark-rumped, they identified it as a SWINHOE’S STORM-PETREL, a Pacific vagrant that’s known to turn up in the waters of the Red Sea. Both Pterodroma and Bulweria petrels could be ruled out. This involves the first record of a live/healthy bird in Israel, as all previous records were of dead or dying individuals near Eilat. This represents the 5th record for Israël.

 

Today, Joachim was counting the quite intense stream of Honey Buzzards that was passing over the High Mountain in the early afternoon. He picked out 3 Crested Honey-buzzards when he suddenly noticed a different bird in his scope view.

 

He immediately identified the bird as a 2cy BATELEUR that migrated in a kettle of Honeys. He took a few record shots after watching this raptor for at least 20 minutes, being mobbed by a Brown-necked Raven, before it flew north. This represents the 14th record for Israël and, if we are right, the 16th for the Western Palearctic.

One wonders what’s gonna happen tomorrow? This week is definitely next level and could yield so much more. Our volunteers are ready, are you???

 

May 16 - SUMMER, END FOR THIS SEASON.

 

Summer definitely has come to Eilat. With temperatures easily reaching 46°C both the birds and our volunteers were required to spend the hottest moments of the day in the shade. Migration is still going on, though on a much more slower level than the weeks before. This week’s highlights included a Rosy Starling that was ringed at the IBRCE, but the arrival of the Sooty Falcons, one of the most incredible long distance migrants that breeds in the Arava Valley but winters in Madagascar (!), confirmed that spring was finally over. They gave away a spectacular show during the evenings above Anita’s Lake while hunting for swallows and dragonflies.

 

It has been a strange migration season in Eilat, with dominating high temperatures that caused a shift in migration to the west. Lots of birds ended up farther north in the country, with especially around Jeruzalem astonishing numbers of migrants while in Eilat all the species were there, but not in the amounts as usual. Nevertheless, our volunteers managed to put Eilat on the map once again with multiple good findings, endless surveys and reaching the second place in the Champions of the Flyway competition.

 

 

 

 

This will be our final post for this spring. Our last volunteers are on their way home and the IBRCE prepares for a quiet but most of all insanely hot desert summer. We, the volunteers - Ben, Joachim, Andres, Heidi, Ian, Guus, Jelle and Maarten, want to thank our busy but always helpful hero Noam for his endless perseverance and, important, patience. He made it possible to let us experience another level of birding and provided us with memories for the rest of our lives. Thank you for that! Special regards to Jessi and the kids as well.

 

Another special thank you goes out to the rest of our family in Eilat: Chen and Talia (who are now having great times abroad as well), Netta (for keeping us clean and lots more!), Tsadok (for keeping us but most of all our feet safe), Liby (for being our 24-hour-call-service), the volunteers from the Field School, local birders Shachar, Sus and Itai and of course everyone we’re forgetting here including visiting birders, the COTF-teams and so on.

 

See you next year!




 

land marks