My Spring 2018

Frank Moffatt 07/05/2018 00:00

HOOPOE LARKS: Israel, Early spring, 23rd February 2018.

Pretty special birds that put on a pretty special performance. Superb. So busy messing with each other they barely noticed me and Shachar Alterman. I've been here a little short of a week. Just getting things in order. Update to come later.






A few images taken in the south over the last three days. Good to get among the Steppe Eagle migration in the Eilat Mountains this morning. Just a trickle (it's all relative) but c.30 was very nice. Other bits also moving: a few Steppe Buzzards, single Long-legged Buzzard, local C. Kestrel, swifts sp (Commons I think).


Down in the Arava Valley Barn Swallows, Sand Martins, swift sp. all north, and plenty of Isabelline Wheatears, Water and Red-throated Pipits, single Meadow Pip, Skylarks.

Will head to the Ringing Station tomorrow morning to see if I can catch up with the Long-toed Stint seen there today.




Just a trickle



Spent most of today searching for a Long-toed Stint to no avail. Plenty of other birds around including several Little Stints (less than yesterday), at least 11 Kentish Plovers at KM20, Caspian Terns 2 and much more. The Black-tailed Godwits at KM20 were nice (one of my favs) and the distant Temminck's is from yesterday.









More rain overnight and a light, short, shower or two this morning.

Yotvata Fields are looking good and growing numbers of birds are turning up. Stone Curlews, Sand Martins, Barn Swallows, alba and feldegg Wagtails, Water and Red-throated Pipits, Pallid, Hen and Marsh Harriers, Chiffchaffs and Lesser Whitethroats and I believe Woodchat Shrike.


Reed, Common and Lesser Whitethroat, Balkan Warblers all noted at the Ringing Centre, Eilat. The sharp-eyed volunteer counters are lapping it up. Me too.

NB: Several hundred Steppe Eagles passed over the Eilat Mountains today. Counters pers.comm.







First bird this morning at Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology - my base for my extended spring trip - was a Great Spotted Cuckoo hiding among the trees at the lawns. A good start.

Headed south down to Eilat and into a surprisingly active Holland Park: at least 5 male Ruppell's Warblers including full song; a light sprinkling of Balkan Warblers; several Sardinian Warblers; and reasonable numbers of Lesser Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs plus all the local species. Good fun.

Gave the Eilat Mountains a try next. A very quiet morning particularly at the high counting station: 10 Steppe Eagles, 4 Steppe Buzzards, several Pallid Swifts (I think - they were high and quite far away... again). Also White-crowned Wheatear, Desert Lark and several Trumpeter Finches noted.


A quick circuit of KM20 produced a similar mix to yesterday plus my first Red-rumped Swallows of the trip and a small party of at least 10 Indian Silverbills.

Finished the day at Yotvata North. Species included: up to 10 Marsh Harriers (inc. 2 females) and 2 Hen Harriers (m&f), some nice Dead Sea Sparrows, a good northward movement of Barn Swallows and Sand Martins plus a few more Red-rumped Swallows, single Northern Wheatear, c.50 Shoveler north at dusk, small flocks of Spanish Sparrows, some interesting looking Stonechats and a dashing Merlin.







A few images from today's ramble. Nice to see Cyprus Warblers are around in good numbers. Also Sardinians and Lesser Whitethroats, Balkans, Chiffs and a steady northward movement of House Martins, Barn Swallows and Swifts. Also had what may have been two early Cretzschmar's Buntings calling as they headed north. At least two Black Redstarts and 2 Commons.

Five harriers at Yotvata NF at dusk: m&f Hen and 3 Marsh inc. 2 fems. Also lots of passerines around - similar mix to previous couple of days.



Female Cyprus



Was watching a gorgeous male Siberian Stonechat on the north side of the track at KM76 - wouldn't let me get near it - when my brain had to suddenly deal with an unexpected surprise: a MacQueen's Bustard flushed! It flew north about 150m, landed and calmly walked towards the border and into the heavy vegetation. I left it alone.


Not quite sure what's going on regarding the release/reintroduction scheme (perhaps someone will update me/us). I didn't notice any rings but then again the views might not have allowed me to. Spectacular birds.


Asian Desert Warbler: KM76 this morning - north side of track.
Was also singing



Very nice Steppe Eagle migration over the high counting station this morning: 268 Steppe, single Bonelli's Eagle and 9 Steppe Buzzards. Several of the Steppe Eagles were low overhead. Fantastic. Good fun with Anna and Gaidis. Thanks guys.

At least 20 Ruppell's Warblers in Holland Park early morning and an Arabian Babbler with an unfortunate beak. Seemed to be doing just fine all the same.

Single White-winged Tern at KM20 this afternoon. One of around 10 that have over-wintered in Israel.




Steppe Eagle - Endangered

Pallid Scops Owl:

outside Ne'ot Samadar close to the wire fencing at the SE corner yesterday morning






Beautiful morning at Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology. Gorgeous sunshine, lovely light breeze. Wandered around the swimming pool area and the magnificent organic gardens.


A smart Hoopoe, C.Kestrel and the Smyrna Kingfisher all performed well. The latter is not that regular at the Kibbutz but Mike Kaplin tells me it's been around for a while now. The feldegg is from Yotvata. Finished off with a night safari with Felix Timmermann and got excellent flight views of a single Egyptian Nightjar in the rectangular fields just north of the N. Circular Field.

Temps rose to 32C during the day so, like the birds, I took things easy.



Beautiful morning at Kibbutz Lotan




Another lovely dawn, this time spent in the Uvda Valley. You know it's likely to be a warm day when there's no chill early on. And so it was, but made slightly more difficult than you'd like thanks to a strong south wind that strengthened mid-morning and threw up a lot of sand and dust. Needed that shower.


Felt good standing in the desert surrounded by several really nice species: c.20 Temminck's Larks, c. 30 Trumpeter Finches, c.20 Short-toed Larks, several Tawny Pipits, a few Desert and good numbers of Isabelline Wheatears, plus the odd noisey Scrub Warbler. They were skittish so I kept my distance and enjoyed the glorious morning.







Called at KM20 today to see the Lesser Flamingo - 3rd for Israel. Really nice bird.



I also saw the last one - December 2014 for me


A few images from Holland Park, KM20, North Beach and the confiding long-staying Black-bush Robin. Thanks to the 'A' Team Ilan, Aviv and Shimon for an excellent late afternoon at the latter.


the A Team



Another hot one although the wind shifted more to the north which cooled things a little. Took a mid-afternoon stroll round the organic gardens at Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology - like me everything was taking things easy and resting up.

Could hear the Smyrna calling nearby, a handful of Chiffs and Lesser Whitethroats were feeding up and the House/Spanish Sparrows were chirping away. We need the wind to change and the temps to drop a little. Predicted to do just that very soon.


Posted an image of a Southern Grey Shrike taken near dusk at a quiet KM76 . Also three Tawny Pipits seen heading west to roost.






Close Encounters:

Southerly wind, Eilat Mountains quiet, Steppe Eagles reorienting from west and crossing the Arava a little north of Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology, between KM70-80. 126 in around an hour between 1000 - 1100hrs. They'd clearly been roosting on the hills next to route 90 west side. Who knows how many more there were and for how many days it had been occurring?


Loved it




YOTVATA: It was pretty obvious there were plenty of birds around due to an (predicted - got lucky) overnight arrival. Tawny Pipits, Isabelline and Northern Wheatears, Short-toed and the gorgeous Bimaculated Larks, huge swift passage. I had a lovely group of 14 Bi-macs close to the Caspian Plover.







KM20: Sounds like there were two White-tailed Plovers present but only managed the one. Striking birds. Love this special family.







Yotvata Caspian Plovers: And so One becomes Two. How long before the next I wonder? Midday heat and quite distant. Much better to come I'm sure. They both settled down to rest in the centre of the field. Found with Belgium birder Frederik De Bruyn




A few images taken during the day, near dusk and after dark during a very rewarding Night Safari with Dan Branch.

Day: Cracking Paliid and Common Swift migration, both species giving excellent close views in good light, Barnand Red-rumped,Swallow, House and Sand Martin all through.

My first Black Kite, up to 4 Lesser Kestrels, Cretzschmar's Buntings into double figures.


Over 3,000 birds thought the Eilat mountains including: 1,000+ Black Storks, Steppe Buzzards, Black Kites, Booted Eagle and Osprey


Dusk at Yotvata: corking male Pallid and Hen Harriers, Bi-macs overhead, good numbers of Red-throated and Water Pipits, Short-toed Larks. The pièce de résistance arguably were the 3-4 Egyptian Nightjars, one of which showed very well, and the Pharoah's Eagle Owl which was simply magnificent during the safari. Shame I only fathomed out my camera settings after it had flown. Another excellent day.






Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology. Took an early morning walk round the Kibbutz. Noticed a black and white flycatcher heading to the pool area. Male Semi-collared seems to fit pretty well. Possibly the bird present since yesterday.


Then to the famous Organic Gardens that were absolutely jumping with birds. Clearly an overnight arrival. Redstart with large white wing-panel but seems quite pale grey. The Cretzschmar's Buntings were almost tame. Almost walking round our feet.

It's a real thrill when the already stunning gardens are brought to life that bit more with a 'fall' of birds.



 Careful not to step on them - Cretzschmar's



Tuesday Morning: Nice raptor watch from High station with Ana De Osma and Gaidis Grandāns: Black Storks on the move, 5 adult Egyptian Vultures, several Steppe Eagles. Also Short-toed Eagle 3, Lesser Kestrel, Black Kite, Steppe Buzzard. Greater Sand Plover at KM20 PM.




Male Hooded




Bit of culture at Tel Arad on Wednesday afternoon: displaying Isabelline Wheatears were great.



Ne'ot Samadar this morning: Hen Harrier, 2 Richard's Pipits, a few Meadows and Red-throated Pipits, Cretzschmar's Buntings, Woodchat, Masked Shrike, Desert, Black-eared, Isabelline and Northern Wheatears.

Nice raptor passage through the central Arava at lunchtime (with Barak Granit and Eyal Shochat): a few Steppe Eagles, Black Kites and Steppe Buzzards but of note were 3 male Pallid Harriers in quick succession.

White Storks dropping in at dusk to the northern dunes (with James Smith), Pallid, Hen and Marsh Harriers. Barn Swallows mainly plus a few Red-rumped and a pair of Hooded Wheatears



 Caspian (P)Lover - more to come...



Early morning visit to an increasingly active KM20. Clearly more LRPs and Kentish, good mix of regular waders, 2-3 (min.) Greater Sand Plovers, and just interesting to see what wandered over.

The Big Little Fellow was still present - Lesser Flamingo.

Didn't see the White-tailed Plover but there were a couple of spots I didn't check.





Heading North...




Fantastic day at Har Amasa today.

The Persian Wheatear was the star but also Northern, Black-eared, Isabelline and Finsch's Wheatear, Rock and singing Pale-rock Sparrow, Ruppell's Warbler's and numerous Lesser Whitethroats, singing and displaying Long-billed Pipit, at least 3 Short-toed Eagles, Black Kites and Steppe Buzzards plus what must have been several hundred White Storks. At least 4 Blue Rock Thrush and other birders saw Rock Thrush and Cinerous Bunting, Ehrenberg's Redstarts, Alpine Swifts a covering of Corn Buntings... and more.

Very different and beautiful habitat out this direction. Impressive climb up from the Dead Sea (hunting Barbary Falcon) through the Judean Desert as you observe the subtle change in habitat.

Great to see Rami Mizrachi, Oz Horine, Amir Ben Dov, Eyal Shochat, Tomer Landsberger, Shachar Alterman plus several other birders there. And thanks to staff at Tel Arad for the lovely coffee and oranges.






PERSIAN WHEATEAR - second (or possibly first) for Israel - if accepted.

Sounds like the 1990 record may be revisited.

Har Amasa today (near Tel Arad).





EILAT MOUNTAINS: great raptor morning spent at the 'High Station' with top counters Ana De Osma and Ragnor.

Steppe Eagle bonanza 165. Wow! Still going strong.

Also 198 Black Kites, 2 Booted Eagles, one 1st year Eastern Imperial Eagle, 1,493 Steppe Buzzards, single Egyptian Vulture, Long-legged Buzzard and Short-toed Eagle.


International mix of observer including: UK, Spain, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Sweden/France, Finland and Israel all represented (probably others).




Steppe Eagle Bonanza


GREATER SAND PLOVERS - KM20: been three present for a few days now and they were all there again early morning. Not sure if I've managed to pick out images of each individual involved but great birds regardless.



Lesser Flamingo also in residence




YOTVATA: good three hour wander around the north fields this morning. Still plenty of Short-toed Larks, Red-throated and Water Pipits, Isabelline, Desert, Northern and Black-eared Wheatears, Desert Finches and other regulars. At least 7 Bi-maculated Larks noted by other observers. The Lesser Kestrels: 3 males, 3 females were performing well.


Feels like there's a bit of a lull in migration, perhaps, but still loads to look at. Plus it gives you the opportunity to look a little closer at, say, Balkan Warblers. This especially 'grey' individual (to my eyes) caught my attention this morning.




Balkan Warbler


Finished my day with a two hour walk round Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology to dusk. Evidence of more flava/feldeggs arriving, nice Ruppell's at the swimming pool, male Hooded Wheatear on the approach road. Plenty of Lesser Whitethroats.




Uvda Valley: TURKESTAN SHRIKE. Singing adult male.

Arrived1600hrs approx only to be informed it hadn't been seen for three hours. Oh well. Settled in for a watch to dusk. Stuck to the original finding location and presto... it suddenly appeared from nowhere, singing continuously (among the razor wire unfortunately). Smart looking bird. Good to meet good friend Rony Livne before he jets off to Romania.




Uvda Valley


Earlier: Steady morning: ad. Night Heron over a date plantation nr km76, then a watch from the high counting station, Eilat Mountains (with Dan and Jason): maybe 150 Black Storks, steady trickle of Steppe Buzzards, single Long-legged Buzzard, the odd Black Kite and 6 or so Marsh Harriers. They were struggling in the wind but I believe things picked-up mid-afternoon. Also single Temminck's Horned Lark.




Nice splash of colour at KM20 first thing this morning. Checked the bushes to the west but only 4 Tawny Pipits and a Dorcas Gazelle. Pallid Harrier stirring things up.

Then up into Eilat Mountains for an excellent raptor watch with top counters Ana and Jacob. Over 2,500 Steppe Buzzards, plenty of Black Storks, a sprinkling of Black Kites, Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier and Osprey. Very enjoyable.



Splash of colour

Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology. Spent the last two hours wandering around the kibbutz again. The Black Bush Robin was showing well, Black-eared and Northern Wheatear. Plus a couple of interesting redstarts - any thoughts?







Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology: first light a quick check, but no sign of the Black Bush Robin. Don't think it was seen all day. Checked again near dusk. Negative news.

A steady stream of Barn Swallows heading north is always encouraging and the sight of numerous grounded Black Kites in the border dunes made me think it could be a good day.

Virtually no wind and a hot day to come.


Headed 10 minutes south to Yotvata. Two Richard's Pipits plus a flock of c.150 G. Short-toed Larks in south field. Must have been 400+ of the latter in the combined fields. Still c.10 Bimaculated Larks. Increase in Red-throated Pipits, Northern and Isabelline Wheatears, Desert Finch.


It was becoming more and more obvious there was a really strong migration in progress. The next 4 hours were pretty spectacular. Absolutely loved it.

Barn and Red-rumped Swallow, Sand and House Martin, Alpine Swift were passing from the off.


YOTVATA North Field migration watch. c.500 Black Kites typically were up and at it first light, followed by a continuous stream of c.2500 Steppe Buzzards, Long-legged Buzzard, 2 Steppe Eagles, Lesser Kestrel, Marsh and Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk. Plenty of morphs to consider etc.







YOTVATA North Field migration watch: swift migration. Common, Alpine but also a really big Pallid Swift movement. Tricky light, Pekinensis to consider plus individual variation never makes this easy - for me at least.





YOTVATA: Highlight of a spectacular day was this male Oriental Honey Buzzard migrating north at around 0900 hrs quite low but a little distant.







TURKESTAN SHRIKE: Yotvata late morning today.

Found by Yoav Perlman early AM. Same bird as Uvda individual? Could be.








WHITE STORK spectacular over Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology.

Stunning c.2,500 passage of White Storks plus 3 Pratincole sp. most probably Collared, also Smyrna in the organic gardens. A pleasure to show my friends from Spurn Bird Observatory the delights of Lotan: inc. (Chair) Rob Adams, Steve 'pretty boy' Exley, Gary Featherstone.

Migration through the central Arava above Lotan.




BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATER: Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology

Migration Central scores again. This time it was the turn of the Blue-cheeks. Present this morning first light and presumably (but not necessarily) the same group still vocal at the swimming pool midday. Another of my favourites.

European and Blue-cheeked have both dropped into Lotan on their way north during the last couple of days. Nice to see them alongside the resident Little Greens for a few hours.



Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology



Another day of hirundine and swift migration. Nice Pallid Harriers at Yotvata early morning along with Hen and Marsh, at least 11 Lesser Kestrels, 4 Bimaculated Larks minimum, a carpet of Black-eared Wheatears plus plenty of Northern and Isabelline. The G. Short-toed Larks still around as are the Spanish Sparrows.


Heard there was a big raptor movement taking place through the Eilat Mountains so I took up position a little north of Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology. Lesser Kestrels, 4 Marsh Harriers, several Black Kites and hundreds of Steppe Buzzards plus a few Black Storks. Always enjoy watching Ospreys migrate through the Arava and had 4 pre-midday. Great fun.


Smart Namaqua Dove and the sound of European Bee-eaters shortly before dusk to round off a good day.



 Pallid, Hen and Marsh - Yotveta fields



Left Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology early for the short drive south to KM20 SALT PANS arriving first light. Nice bit of wader activity, several wagtails, a cracking Black-eared Wheatear, colour in the form of Glossy Ibis. All this before I ventured up into the Eilat Mountains for a blast of raptors.

Joined Ragnor and Ana at the high station for a watch to midday but not before I'd seen a stack of Steppe Buzzards half way up. Totals:

Steppe Buzzard - 12,157, Black Kite - 1,258, Booted Eagle - 4, Long-legged Buzzard - 2, Egyptian Vulture - 3, Steppe Eagle - 3, E. Imperial Eagle - 1, Marsh Harrier - 3, Osprey - 1, Short-toed Eagle - 2, E. Sparrowhawk - 1 Staggering really.

A load more passed before I finally departed for a well-earned falafel at 1300hrs. (not included in totals above).



KM20 Salt Pans first light: Continuing yesterdays theme was an Osprey heading north. Watching the Little Stints and got a nice surprise when a Broad-billed Sandpiper flew in calling. And an even bigger surprise when it was joined by a second bird. Both quite vocal.





Another of my favourites



It was a noisey, bumpy night. Wild winds a blowin in the southern Arava. Opened the door - Wow! Someone switch the lights on please. Sand and dust all the way down to Eilat. The rain was helpful in dousing clothes in dust. Sort of event that makes it all the more interesting out here. All fine again by mid-morning.


Birding with the lads from Spurn at Km20 this morning. Rob Adams, Gary Featherstone, Steve Exley, Aidey Scutt, Harry the Postman and Jim 'Snowy' Snowden. Good representation from East Yorkshire (Spurn) this spring including Daniel Branch and the impending arrival of Tim Jones and his Father. 5 species of tern, Little, Whiskered, Common, Sandwich and Gull-billed. c.100 Glossy Ibis in 3 flocks, at least 2 Broad-bills, Collared Pratincole.

I headed to KM19. Nice mix of stuff: Squacco, Night Heron, Namaqua Dove

Images: A few birds from the last couple of days.



Arava Valley

YOTVATA: north agricultural fields.

The Lesser Kestrels have been feeding up for several days now.

Gorgeous birds. And very approachable.






Yotvata North Fields: Mass migration in the southern Arava.

Less than ten minutes from my base at Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology. Early signs were good (again). Hirundines, raptors, pipits and larks. Strapped myself in and got ready for the ride.


Brilliant stuff. Harriers, Steppe Buzzards, sparrowhawks, sparring Lesser Kestrels, European and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, a few calling Tree Pipits and the odd Water Pipit, Red-throated by the bucket load, several Tawny, G. Short-toed Larks, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, Sand and House Martins, Rock and Crag Martins, Common and Pallid Swifts, Whinchats, White plus many flava ssp. wagtails, Northern, Isabelline, Black-eared Wheatears.. Storming stuff.

3.5hours in and I hadn't even checked a field! Bound to be something in there I thought.


Spurn Birders and friends Tim Jones and his father plus Daniel Branch arrived. I left things in their very capable hands while I took a short break and went for a coffee. I hadn't hadmy first sip: phone call - Caspian Plover! The third for Yotvata this spring.

We were getting great views of the Caspian when a Temminck's Horned Lark suddenly appeared in front of it! Nice. The plover was very confiding and took up residence on the muck heap which has suddenly become highly productive. Point blank views for all that turned up to see it.

Fighting Lesser Kestrels played a part in it departing briefly. What next?.

The bushes were hopping with birds. At last a good arrival of warblers: Lesser Whitethroats, singing Eastern Olivaceous, Blackcaps, a Masked Shrike (been thin on the ground), the German/Swiss team found a Rufous Bush Chat.

Seven hours just flew by. Took a break for lunch.

A few images to try and create a flavour of what it was like. Can't really do it justice.





Take my word for it, it was good





YOTVATA North Fields. Myself and David Schoneveld were informed by Avi Shneor that he'd just found what he believed to be a possible Cyprus Pied Wheatear in the pumpkin field at the north west corner. We went to look for it.

It wouldn't be a real spring in the southern Arava without the seasonal problem of identifying a Pied/Cyprus Pied Wheatear. We set about it. The only images we managed initially were of the bird perched on a wire. No really good views of the back/mantle etc. After a coffee at Yotvata I went back to try and obtain better views. On my return I was informed via a phone call that it had been reidentified from photos as a Pied Wheatear.

These images I obtained show a tail pattern with a better fit for Pied. It would be an unusual pattern for Cyprus. The primary extension is about equal to the length of the exposed tertials which is better for Cyprus. The bill is deep based looking - which surprisingly for me - is perhaps better for Cyprus, but it does seem quite long - better for Pied. The underpart colouration could look extensively peachy in some lights. The black on the back actually reaches as far as the end of the first tertial - which again might be better for Cyprus.

The shortest first primary finishes more or less level with the primary coverts which points to Pied. I believe it should extend beyong the primary coverts on Cyprus

I always think of Cyprus Pied as being a small wheatear with a smallish looking bill and a shortish looking tail. When I observed this individual alongside a Northern Wheatear, there was quite a lot of competition between the two species on the ground, and was finally able to obtain a direct comparison it appeared to be a large, long-tailed, strong-looking wheatear. It was this as much as anything else that suggested to me (in the end) it's more likely a Pied.

Pied, Cyprus Pied and Black-eared pretty similar on the DNA front I believe.

Just my thoughts. Please feel free to comment.


It wouldn't be a real spring without the seasonal problem
of identifying a Pied/Cyprus Pied Wheatear

YOTVATA North Fields: Caspian Plover - female. The 3rd of the spring at this location.




An unusual song attracted the attention of David Kotter and Rotem Agmon at Yotvata North Fields while they were drinking coffee at the Pied Wheatears (there are now two birds - part of a small 'wave'.) They eventually located the bird: a Menetries's Warbler.

It went missing for a while but we relocated it near dusk. I managed a few brief glimpses. Here's an image I captured in low light. All happy?





2CY male Menetries's Warbler


PIED WHEATEARS: Yotvata North Fields. One became two became three (KM76). How many more are out there?

Nice in-hand comparison of adult male and 2nd calendar year male.

Keeping things very simple, the adult is the blacker of the two birds.

Thanks to Yosef Kiat and his fellow ringers.



Young and Adult - Pied Wheatears



YOTVATA North Fields have been the place to be this spring and as they're located a little over 5 minutes from my base at Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology I've spent much of my time there.

The last 3-4 days have continued in the same vein with big migration taking place. c.2500 and c.3000 raptors on two of the days: Steppe Buzzards 95%, Black Kites 4% and then a few each of Steppe, Booted and Short-toed Eagle, Ospreys, c.20+ Lesser Kestrels most days, occasional Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Long-legged Buzzard. Harriers have been very conspicuous throughout spring with Pallid, Hen. Marsh, and finally my first Montagu's.

Been a good wave of European and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters through each day. Very good passage of Red-throated especially, but also good numbers of Tree Pipit, then Tawny and still an occasional Water Pipit. G. Short-toed Lark numbers have been consistently in the hundreds and after a push they're back up to c.150 or so. Also been 1-3 Lesser Short-toed through/around. Up to 4 Turtle Doves seen most days but the sound of purring has increased in volume so clearly more passing. Up to two Namaqua Doves seen recently.


Hirundines have streamed through big style: Barn and Red-rumped Swallow, House and Sand Martin, also Pallid and Common Swifts, Rock and a few Crag Martins. Big push of House Marts yesterday.

On the ground the place has teemed with wheatears: Northern, Isabelline and thankfully a big arrival of Black-eared. At least 2 Pied Wheatears and the search is on for more plus Cyprus still to be confirmed.

While White Wagtail numbers have reduced there's still a steady stream of flava ssp. calling overhead.




Black-eared - thankfully


Warblers, Redstarts, Flycatchers, Masked Shrikes have been strangely thin on the ground. I've seen around 6 of the latter in 6 weeks! Word on the ground says the north is doing just fine so hopefully it's because they're using a different route or simply over-flying us and heading directly towards their destination.

The Menetries's Warbler find was a nice bonus.

Could have mentioned much much more. A few images from the last few days. Feel free to comment on any of them. Not particularly great shots mostly taken from the comfort of my vis mig 'chair' located at the northern edge of the north circular field.




Adult male PIED WHEATEAR: north side of Ketura Sewage midday





A few highlights from the last few days.


5th April:

Migration continued apace through Yotvata. Similar species and numbers to recent days but also: a couple of Collared Pratincoles; increase in Ortolans; both (ringed) Pied Wheatears still present. Another Pied Wheatear - north of Ketura Sewage plus Citrine Wagtail.


6th April:

K. Urim and nearby areas: singing Olivaceous Warbler, Syrian Woodpecker, displaying E. Rollers, singing Rufous Bush Chat, good numbers of E. Bee-eaters, E. Oli's, Reed Warblers, Masked Shrike 1-2, several Blackcaps, Cetti's. Lesser Kestrels and White Storks on road south towards Sde Boker. Steppe Eagle. Mitzpe Ramon Forest: Masked Shrike, Grey Wagtail and C. Redstart.

The last hour, spent at Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology: Semi-collared Flycatcher, a flock of c.70 E. Bee-eaters zapped through at 1915 hrs. Single Wryneck. C. Redstart, Blackcap and Chiff in the Organic Gardens.


7th April:

Decrease in birds on the ground but still plenty of migration overhead.

Yotvata: 2 x pale and single dark phase Booted Eagle, Osprey, two each of female and male Marsh Harrier. european and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters through. Single Temminck's Lark.





Ketura Sewage




YOTVATA North Fields AM. With Brian Beilby.

Pretty obvious there'd been a big clear out of passerines. Just a few Black-eared Wheatears, GSTLarks c.60, Tawny and Water Pipit, a few Ortolans, single Bluethroat. Still hundreds of Red-throated Pipits, however, a decent flock(s) of Spanish Sparrows, c.80 flava ssp. wagtails over, Crag Martin.

The other noticeable change was the obvious arrival of Rufous Bush Chats; 5 singing from the bush tops in a very small area. Also singing Namaqua Doves with a displaying pair. And if swifts really do mate in the air then we witnessed a pair of Pallids doing just that! Wow.

Raptors not so many: 2 E. Sparrowhawks, c.30 Steppe Buzzards, single Pallid and 2 Marsh Harriers.

Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, House Martins, Common and Pallid Swifts still piling through.


Couple of White Storks dropped in and a flurry of Black Kites and Steppe Buzzards heading to roost nearby.Last two hours to dusk was good fun with Montagu's, Pallid and Marsh Harriers all performing and Marsh Harriers all performing well.





Namaqua Dove




NE'OT SAMADAR: Excellent birding this morning at the Sewage and around the Kibbutz perimeter.

At least 12 singing Rufous Bush Robins, 2 Masked Shrikes, c.40 Lesser Whitethroats, c.15 Blackcaps, Common and Green Sandpiper, 2 Chiffs, several Tree Pipits and flava wagtail ssp., 3 Booted Eagles (2x dark and 1 pale phase), Pallid Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Black Kite, Steppe Buzzard and E. Sparrowhawk.


Big hirundine passage and both Common and Pallid Swift. A close encounter with a stunning Little Swift.

Checked a few of the small copses: Wryneck, Masked Shrike, C. Redstarts 2, several each of L. Whites and Blackcaps, a large acro that I'm assuming was Great Reed but not 100% sure due to brief views.

Great mornings birding.


YOTVATA: Movement spotted by Brian turned out to be a superb male Caspian Plover. Also Woodchat Shrike, Pallid and Marsh Harrier, Black-eared Wheatear. Great finish to a very nice day. With Brian Beilby.





Yotvata North Fields have hosted three females this spring

so this extremely attractive male comes as a very welcome addition.

Found late afternoon.





Down to Holland Park, Eilat for first light. Slowly back north to Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology via KMs19 & 20, a few copses. Finished off at Yotvata North Fields.


Less obvious signs of migration but still plenty of Red-throated Pipits, Lesser Whitethroats, several Blackcaps and Balkan Warblers, a few Water Pipits, single Quail. A couple of Broad-billed Sandpipers (still?) at KM20 plus Caspian Tern and Black-tailed Godwit. Nice to see a couple of Spotted Flycatchers - my first of the trip. Caspian Plover still at Yotvata. Dark phase Booted Eagle.



A perfect shot - Balkan Warbler




LITTLE BUNTING: Ofira Park, Eilat.

Late breaking news had the Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology birders dashing south just before dusk. Israel 'tick'.

With David Schoneveld and Brian Beilbys.




Managed to finally catch up with this little beauty. Seems to have taken up residence underneath a suburban picnic table. Thanks for the tip-off Shachar.

With Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology birders David Schoneveldand Brian Beilby.



Another excellent days birding in and around Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology.

The Blackcaps have arrived in force up this way though perhaps not replicated elsewhere. Counted over 200 this morning. Lesser Whitethroats also around in good numbers, 7 C.Nightingales, 12+ Rufous Bush Robins, 2 Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, c.70 Ortolans, several Tree Pipits, 4 Wrynecks, Red-throated Pipits still numerous, good passage of Pallid Swifts and hirundines, Quail, 3 Masked Shrikes, 2 C. Redstarts, Savi's Warblers.


good passage - hirundines



YOTVATA North Fields: Plenty of colour there today. Superb European Roller this morning and a smart Rock Thrush this evening. Fields crawling with Red-throated Pipits tonight. Still plenty of Ortolans.- over 200 early AM. At least 8 Lesser Kestrels. Pallid and Marsh Harriers. 7 Desert Finch. Nice flock of c.60 White Storks thermalling midday over the cafe. Minimum 6 Masked Shrikes around. Mixed group of c.40 flava ssp. before dusk.



Smart Rock Thrush



CASPIAN PLOVER: KM20 Salt Pans midday. With Brian Beilby.

The chestnut colouration on the breast varied with the light and angle of the bird but was definitely present and quite obvious at times. No real sign of a lower black border, however. Adult female might be best fit (but perhaps young male or male aquiring breeding plumage?).

Very nice bird and quite different plumage from the other individuals I've observed this spring.



Caspian Plover - K20

Probable Black-headed Bunting, Ne'ot Samadar, 9th April. With Brian Beilby

A slightly unusual bunting sp. flew up into a tree along with c.40 Ortolans on the outskirts of the kibbutz fence near the northernmost alfalfa field adjacent to the road.

The conspicuous yellow underparts led me to believe I'd probably seen a semenowi Cinereous Bunting. It was about 80m away and partially obscured and through my binoculars I couldn't really be sure what it was. Get a photo I thought.

These were the best I could manage unfortunately (no others). The birds flushed and I/we couldn't relocate it.

I've shown the images to just a few people and on balance we seem to be in agreement Black-headed is the best fit though perhaps it's not a conclusive id. The photos don't really reflect what I (thought) I was seeing in the field.

Anyone got any thoughts? As usual feel free to comment.





Get a photo I thought...


A few more images of todays Caspian Plover at KM20 Salt Pans. As I suggested earlier you had to look quite hard in certain lights to see chestnut on the breast and there was no obvious dark border although you could argue these images suggest there might just be a hint of one.







Some nice birds seen today while birding with good friends Tuvia Khan and Brian Beilby.

Bar-tailed Godwit at KM20 - possibly the one we saw earlier at the North Beach Eilat. Semi-collared Flycatcher, Wryneck and Tree Pipit at Ofira Park. Red-necked Phalarope KM20.


Interesting sandy Kentish Plover (also at KM20). Other birds included Pomarine Skua, Caspian, Common, Sandwich, White-cheeked Tern all North Beach; Eastern Olivaceous and what appeared to be Olive-tree Warbler at Ofira Park; Levants Sparrowhawk Eilat Mountains and Yotvata; Gull-billed and White-winged Tern KM20.





Good birds & Good freinds




Yotvata Southern Compost area today. Possible Rufous Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis meena.

A rather striking 'turtle dove' caught my attention near the 'southern' compost heaps today. In direct comparison with the Turtle Dove S.turtur alongside (and the Collared Dove nearby) it seemed large and quite dark. Never an easy identification it seems to have some credibility. All comments welcome as always.



Caught my attention




If you've never witnessed the mass migration then you really should make a date with them. Incredible spectacle today of c.2000 moving north, west of the Salt Pans at KM20 a little north of Eilat. Thousands more seen over Eilat Bird Park.

It seemed like every bush and tree had a group perched in the tops. Another of the World's great birding spectacles that you can enjoy in Israel.






Changing of the guard recently. Migration in full flow. Another wave of Northern Wheatears, Chiffchaffs, Sprossers abound, several C.Redstarts in the Organic Garden at Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology this morning, Eastern Olivaceous Warblers quite numerous, E.


Roller at Yotvata this evening alongside three species of shrike: Woodchat, Masked and my first Lesser Grey of the trip.



Resting at K20




The pungent canal at the rear of Ketura sewage hosted several birds this morning including Little Bittern, several Reed Warblers, Eastern Oli, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warbler, sprossers, Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats. Seems the stench didn't put them off.


Noted a corpse in there this evening of what seems to be a Night Heron or similar! Hope it's not the little fella.

Also saw what looked like a candidate for a possible Paddyfield Warbler. Head pattern (especially) and underparts looked pretty good but just unable to get a few more features to clinch the ID either way.

I gave it another go this evening but it was a little windy. Managed a couple of Reed Warblers. If you're passing and fancy trying for it drive to the rear of the sewage on the south side and peek over the mound into the canal reeds. Good luck.

Eight Common Sands on the sewage ponds.

Just a few images from today plus a couple more of the GSPlover at KM20 on 18th.





Graeter Sand at K20




The ringers were busy today at Eilat's International Birding Centre. Some interesting species processed while I was there included Olive-tree Warbler, Little Bittern and Namaqua Dove.

If photography's your thing then you could do much worse than visit the hides at the IBRCE where Little Crake, Water Rail and Little Bittern, among others, were wandering around just a few metres away.


Elsewhere still plenty of Blackcaps, Lesser Whitethroats and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers. A few more Golden Orioles appearing as are Barred Warblers, although I've still to see the latter. Nice flock of c.40 European Bee-eaters dropped into an isolated copse near Uvda to roost but you can hear their calls all through the daytime as they head north.

Cooler weather on the way tomorrow so we'll see how that affects the migration.



Little Bittern - IBRCE



Eilat's favourite CORNCRAKE.

This individual has owned Ofira Park for a couple of days now.





Today. Eilat's Parks: Holland, Ofira and Canada. On to KM20 Salt Pans. Checked roadside copses on way back to Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology. Finished off at Yotvata north fields.


Just a few selected highlights: Plenty of Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats around, small numbers of Balkan Warblers, several Masked Shrikes, a few Common Redstarts, Spotted Flycatchers, Common Cuckoo.An early riser Honey Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Osprey, dark phase Booted Eagle, several Lesser Kestrels. Ortolans, Red-throated and Tree Pipits dotted here and there.

Corncrake still marshalling things at Ofira Park.

Broad-billed Sand, 8 Collared Pratincoles at KM20.

Classic finish to the day at Yotvata with 2 (more) Caspian Plovers.


Kentish Plovers at K20


CASPIAN PLOVERS: two more females tonight. No prizes for guessing where. Correct. Yotvata agricultural fields. Immediately north of the north circular field and slightly east.


The Polish team of four beat me to it by minutes. Nice work guys. Might have missed them.

It was close to dusk. Few images comparing plumage of each individual.

I was thinking (dangerous) and I reckon I've seen around 30 Caspian Plovers in Israel and all but one of them has been in Yotvata North Fields. Incredible really.



Correct. Yotvata agricultural fields.




Was in Holland Park this morning. Noticed a few Levants, then a few more. c.100 through in no time. Close up they really are quite aggressive looking And they meant business. You could hear a pin drop.

Tempted me up into the mountains. A little late 0900hrs. Wall of Levants passing behind Yoash. Wild estimate of c.1000 but could have been many many more. Made a few stops on the way up and by the time I'd reached High Counting Station they'd passed. Still hundreds of Steppe Buzzards moving, dark phase Booted Eagle and Long-legged Buzzard plus a few Black Kites. I stopped at 1030hrs.

Well worth it.



Aggressive Look - Holland park

A few images from the last couple of days. Plenty going on. Big arrival yesterday of common migrants and plenty more turned up today. Great stuff. Not enough hours in the day. I'll produce a brief summary later.





Spot Fly...




Seen more European Bee-eaters this spring than any previous spring trip. Several hundred around Yotvata today. Heard a group arrive at Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology around 2100hrs. Quiet now so presumably gone to roost. Same with Turtle Doves. Yotvata playing host to many with at least 40-50 seen today. All seen well appear to be S.turtur.


Two gorgeous male Montagu's Harriers at Yotvata this evening plus a dark phase Marsh Harrier, c.200 Ortolans and a smart Black-headed Bunting. Rock Thrush showing well this AM.



 Gorgeous Monatgu's - Yotveta



The weather's been pretty unpredictable recently with thunder, lightning, heavy rain, flash floods and sand storms. Due to start calming down from tomorrow I think. Birding continues to be excellent. A few more images from the last couple of days.



 Swirling over the Arava valley



Honey Buzzards have been passing in dribs and drabs for several days and we're all just waiting for it to happen.

c..500 this morning just below the High Mountain counting station might just be the forerunner of the BIG arrival. Tomorrow?





LITTLE STINT: Possibly one of the best looking and maybe one of the most

underappreciated waders out there.




Didn't really happen with the Honey Buzzards today up in the Eilat Mountains. First birds up around 0730ish and by the time any numbers arrived they were already quite high. Still saw over 500 by 0930hrs so can't be bad including an array of plumages.

At least 2 Masked Shrikes in Canada Park.


Grey Plover, Greater Sand Plover among the Little Stints and Marsh Sands at the IBRCE salt pans late morning. The Birding Centre bushes were holding good numbers of Blackcaps, Lesser Whitethroats and Eastern Oli's. Also a few Barred Warblers and an adult Rosy Starling I believe.

Finally managed my first Barred Warbler at Ne'ot Samadar late afternoon plus several Eastern Oli's and at least two Balkan Warblers. Still loads of Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats. Also 3 Squacco, single Night Heron and 10 Glossy Ibis (still) around, and several singing Rufous Bush Robins and at least one sprosser. Couldn't relocate yesterday's Great Snipe.


My first Barred Warbler at Neot Semadar



Curlew Sandpiper: Salt Pans south of the IBRCE first thing this morning. Also 22 Red-necked Phalaropes, 2 Black-tailed Godwits and several Little Stints, Marsh Sandpipers, Ringed Plovers, Ruffs, Greenshank, Common and Wood Sands.



IBRCE salt pans


The easterly influence pushed the Honey Buzzards well west yesterday and the winds today - which were all over the place - didn't bring any over the high counting station up in the Eilat Mountains by 0830 this morning. Like yesterday a few were observed further west. So here's hoping the winds push a few our way soon. Nice group of Ibex kept me company for a while as did the playful Desert Larks and White-crowned Black Wheatears.


Booted Eagles love to hunt along the southern Arava Valley and this spring has seen many doing just that, particulary this last week or so. Nice dark morph over the KM20 Salt Pans today. Tightly packed group of Gull-billed Terns were a bonus as were the Hoopoe Larks at the far north flats.


Eastern Oli's still plentiful as are Blackcaps and Lesser Whitehroats, several Barred Warblers, Spott Flys, Balkan Warblers. An Upcher's Warbler was in Park Canada late morning alongside the feuding Eastern Oli's.

Colourful hepatic Common Cuckoo in Holland Park mid-morning.



Hungry Booted! K20



Waders at the Salt Pans south of the IBRCE first thing this morning included: 8 Black-tailed Godwits including very good views of the underwings. Smart Bar-tailed Godwit kept itself to itself and departed as quickly as it arrived. 19 Red-necked Phalaropes.


Once again the Honey Buzzards were heading north well to the west with c.100 noted. Come on winds do your stuff please.


Park Canada seemed pretty empty but with patience (with Steve and Ian) we had Robin, Willow Warbler, probably at least 3 E. Oli's, 2 Reed Warblers and a Tree Pipit. Just goes to show.

KM20 Salt Pans included: impressive flock of c.150 Ruff. Nice group of 26 Wood Sandpipers. Gull-billed Tern and Grey Plover plus c.50 Little Stints.


Finished off with a couple of hours in the extremely active Organic Gardens at Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology. The very essence of the gardens always ensures a more than ample suppy of food and boy were the birds taking advantage of what was on offer. Barn Swallows, Sand Martins, Common and Pallid Swifts all buzzing around me. E. Bee-eaters overhead. Great Reed Warbler just metres from me. Several Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, stacks of Blackcaps and several Lesser Whitethroats Great way to finish a nice day.




Ruffs @ K20



Holland Park, Eilat for starters. Eastern Oli's, Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats. Plenty of calls but tough to see what was making them.

Sense of duty took me up into the Eilat Mountains. The High Counting Station felt exposed and strangely quiet. No Honeys again. A few were seen passing through the Ne'ot Samadar route but I'm not hearing reports of any big numbers from anywhere. Maybe they'll all come through later?


Park Canada: European Robin still present as were at least 3 Eastern Oli's, several Balckcaps and Lesser Whitethroats and single Spotted Flycatcher.

Then it was a visit to the southern pans near the IBRCE and onto KM20 Salt Pans. Pretty similar to yesterday but reports suggest a few things dropped in to the latter during the afternoon e.g. Greater Sand Plover and 2 Broad-billed Sands. Also 2 E. Rollers nearby.


Finished off at Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology: Masked Shrike, Eastern Oli's, Tawny Pipit, Rufous Bush Robin (the Black Bush Robin was reported yesterday), Common Whitethroat, Blackcaps and Lesser throats.

Another hot day up around 36C. Cooler weather predicted to arrive in a few days time i.e. 29C. Maybe it'll bring the Honeys with it.



Common Terns - IBRCE



Began at Ne'ot Samadar (inc. 2 copses on Route 12): still packed with Eastern Olivaceous Warblers c.50 inc. Plenty of Blackcaps fighting each other plus Lesser Whitethroats and Rufous Bush Robins, 6-7 Masked Shrikes, 2 Spott Flys and a smart male Black-eared Wheatear.

Called in at Yotvata Sewage late morning: Glossy Ibis, at least 25 Wood Sands, 7 Little Egrets.






Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Neot Semadar


HONEY BUZZARDS: Gambled and didn't head up into the Eilat Mountains to check for Honeys. I'm hoping there were observers up there as it's the weekend but I've not heard anything as yet.

A few arrived close to the Shizzafon Junction via the Uvda Valley. Further along route 12 I could see more out to the west. I took a risk and dashed to KM76 but once again just small numbers heading north. Visibility was poor so my c.40 is probably short of what was actually out there. Still no big numbers as far as I'm aware.





Honey Buzzard - Eilat Mountains 4.5.18


My spring birding has been brightened up on a daily basis (almost) by really big numbers of European Bee-eaters moving north. It doesn't seem to matter where I am in the southern Arava, I'm either watching them at close range or listening to them as they pass over. But there's also been a spectacular passage of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters. Okay, far less numerically than apiaster, but very regular passage nonetheless. Beautiful birds and a great opportunity to get used to the subtly different calls. Easy for the veteran Arava birders.


And let's not forget the resident Little Green Bee-eaters who seem to be all over the place this spring. In fact it's been hard to miss any of them.

Just when it seemed like the Blue-cheeked had slowed there's been another wave.

Another great hat-trick this morning. Corkers. Shame the light wasn't a bit kinder.



Blue-cheeked Bee-eater




Began with an early visit to IBRCE Salt Pans: Broad-billed and Curlew Sandpiper, Barwit (still) and pretty much the stuff from previous days.

Honey Buzzard spectacular in the Eilat Mountains (see earlier post). Wow!.

Big cycling event finishing in Eilat this afternoon involving route 90 closure so need to scoot round a few places.

Quick visit round Park Canada: 2 Spotted Flycatchers. On to KM20 Salt Pans. Highlights inc.: Terek Sand, 3 Curlew Sands, 3 White-winged Terns, c.40 Wood Sands.

Yotvata Agricultural Fields: bunch of Lesser Kestrels back in residence.

Finished my day with walk around Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology. Stunning male Golden Oriole, Eastern Oli, Blackcap and 2 Spotted Flycatchers in the Organic Gardens.

What a fantastic day.



Broad-billed Sandpiper - IBRCE salt pans


TEREK SANDPIPER: KM20 Salt Pans late morning. Lovely birds



Up to the Eilat Mountains. The strong northerly winds and overcast conditions surprised me and it seemed like it could be 'on' for Honeys. I was right. Several thousand passed between 0700-1000hrs; perhaps something in the region of 7500 birds.

Several found the going tough and landed beneath Yoash to take a breather. Others seemed to have already moved through Shlomo only to suddenly veer back across to Yoash to jump on a thermal before continuing their journey. Spectacular stuff and yet another birding wonder in Israel that you have to witness if you've not already done so. Magnifico.


Honey Buzzard - Eilat Mountains

Reports of an unusual shearwater - possible Yelkuan - on 4th had me arriving early at North Beach, Eilat next morning. I was in good company as seawatching maestro Rami Mizrachi was already in position. Between us we had 8-9 Arctic and 3 Long-tailed Skuas and 2-3 Sooty Shearwaters. Nice start.

Up to the Eilat Mountains for me. Honey Buzzards were moving and I had c.650 between 0845-0945hrs (Shimon Shiff had c.100 earlier). Very nice start.

IBRCE Salt Pans held 33 Red-necked Phalaropes but no real change otherwise.


KM20 Salt Pans - highlights included: 3 Curlew Sands, Temminck's Stint, Grey Plover, 6 White-winged Terns, single Broad-billed Sand, 8 Collared Pratincoles, c.70 Little Stints,

Quick look at Yotvata Sewage and adjacent areas: Turtle Doves still purring, 3 species of Bee-eater seen easily, 25 Wood Sands.

Finished off at the northern agricultural fields and found a smart Lesser Grey Shrike but the light had virtually gone.

A very good days birding.



Temminck's Srint - K20


TEREK SANDPIPER: Still present midday at KM20. Great to 'pick it up' via its distinctive call. Also gave several quieter calls in flight. A few angles but a bit distant unfortunately. Got to love this bird.

It had to be the Eilat Mountains: As I was driving up a little after 0600hrs I could see a huge stream of Honey Buzzards moving already. By the time I set up camp opposite Yoash thousands were on the move. Incredible sight. I didn't count continuously, but despite that I easily saw 10,000 plus by 0800hrs. I simply soaked it up.

Loads more elsewhere e.g. above Park Canada and the IBRCE later.

I'll post a few more images later.




Still loads to see despite it being late in the season. More than 30 Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters moving late near Yotvata which I thought was noteworthy. When do they stop moving through?

35 Red-necked Phals at the salt pans IBRCE; Lesser Grey Shrike still at Yotvata (why don't I go earlier?); Broad-billed and Curlew Sands KM20 plus c.200 White Storks over. A few images from today and a Spotted Flycatcher and a typical view of a Golden Oriole at Kibbutz Lotan & Center for Creative Ecology from yesterday. Been quite a few of the latter around the Kibbutz and in the Organic Gardens.




Began at Ne'ot Samadar but quickly realised Honey Buzzards were moving north along the ridge of the Arava Valley as I'd hoped they would. Settled into my lovely white plastic chair on Mount Ayit watchpoint and simply enjoyed the marvellous spectacle.

Thousands overhead between 0800-1000hrs. Including a single female Crested (seen very well) and four other good candidates inc. 3 males - all among hundreds of soaring HBs that passed me before I could say Pernis ptilorhynchus (how do you say that?).



Enjoying the show - Mt' Ayit



The IBRCE was on top form today. All singing, all dancing Upcher's Warbler. At long last good views of this species in Israel. But not a decent image unfortunately.

Several in the Park by all accounts Noam Weiss pers.comm. Also five colourful and noisy Rosy Starlings, Golden Oriole, Barred Warbler, a stack of Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, Rufous and Black Bush Robin and plenty more.

KM20 highlights included: 12 Curlew Sands and single Broad-billed Sand. A few images from today and yesterday.

Just when you think things are calming down... bingo!





Probably one of the species that every birder would love to see



CRAB PLOVERS: Three at Eilat North Beach for 15 minutes this morning before heading south.

Right place, right time. Was at the IBRCE when news broke. Lift with Noam Weiss and we were there in a few minutes. One of the wader species I've always wanted to see. Great find Re'a Shaish. 6th record for Israel.




I've spent most of the last two days down at the IBRCE. Not surprising really. Migration is supposed to be winding down but not here.

The place is absolutely packed with birds, most notably Eastern Olivaceous Warblers. Last thing tonight one began singing and before you knew it, it was like the Liverpool Kop in the early 1970s. Deafening. Olive-tree Warblers are not difficult to find and with a little bit of patience you can still pick out an Upcher's. Amazing. Plus an Icterine Warbler!

A stack of Garden Warblers, several Barred and numerous Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats Still 5 Rosy Starlings, Golden Orioles, European Bee-eaters, a very light sprinkling of Honey Buzzards, plus a single Crested (Meir and Sachi).

Little Bitterns, Caspian Terns and a Basra Reed Warbler. Spent 3 hours on and off with no joy looking for the latter. Great birding but tough to get photos of anything due to the dense vegetation.



Migration is supposed to be winding down but not here


The IBRCE remains the place to be with 'late' migration seemingly still in full swing. I missed a very early morning Sooty Falcon chasing Sand Martins but did manage one of two Crested Honey Buzzards that drifted over. Also Booted Eagle and Marsh Harrier

KM20 held a few waders including a two smart Broad-billed Sandpipers




Creasted Honey Buzzard - Over head IBRCE



Finished my day with a nice walk round Ne'ot Samadar Sewage. Almost my first bird was (another) Olive-tree Warbler. A Marsh Harrier drifted through, 3-4 Spotted Flycatchers, several each of Eastern Oli, Blackcap and L. Whitethroats. Rufous Bush Robins everywhere and Masked Shrikes conspicuous.

land marks