Eilat Weekly Updates

Shachar Shalev 26/05/2019 00:00







Who? Ho...Hoo...Hoopoe.... Hoopoe Lark invasion! Hoopoe Larks now massively outnumber Flamingos at KM20! True it is mainly because there are no Flamingos at KM20, they have taken up residence at the southern salt ponds near the hotel district. The water and water organisms at KM 20 have been checked and found normal so we don't know why they left en masse but I have a fair idea why the Hoopoe Larks have arrived. 

A couple of years ago a pair of juvenile Hoopoe Larks started frequenting the old fence where masses of spiders made an easy meal. They were fed worms by photographers and became very friendly to visitors. Now one of them has returned, an adult bird with 3 juveniles to feed. He is approaching cars looking for donations and the juveniles are running around with him. 

Fortunately they seem to have plenty to eat there without help. 


Hoopoe Larks - An adult (left) and a juvenile - K20

There are increasing numbers of waders at KM20 and a second Red Phalarope has joined the first, yesterday he was walking round the algae feeding like a wader...identity crisis? 

North Beach has a respectable variety of birds, an Arctic Tern joined the Common Terns this morning, plenty of White-cheeked Terns, Caspian Terns, Lesser Crested Terns most days - 4 yesterday - and occasionally Bridled Terns, two Cory's Shearwaters have been close all week and I expect some Storm-Petrels shortly, hopefully. 


Migration has picked up with the arrival of Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, a Yellow Wagtail, Curlew,Little Ringed Plovers, a pair of Temminck's Stints, Garganey, Spoonbills, groups of Wood Sandpipers and Ruffs - it's a start! Yesterday we saw a Crested Honey Buzzard sneaking back to the Date plantation after visiting Park Holland. we ignored him, I don't want them to think we miss them. 

This weekend a few birders came to visit and seemed to enjoy their time. Don't let the 50C measured in the Arava this week put you off, Eilat is always worth the visit!





Three "first's as far as I can remember" in one week is a lot of the middle of July. Since the Sde Dov airport in Tel Aviv closed at the start of the month the number of vacationers in Eilat has dropped significantly. I don't ever remember Eilat so quiet in July. You can sit on the beach, go to a restaurant, drive down the road....it's really weird. 


Friday morning all the Flamingos from KM20 took off for a tour of the city, went to sit on the sea for a few hours and now they are gone… there is not a single Flamingo at KM20 or the park now. I don't ever remember not having flamingos at KM20. This morning I arrived at the IBRCE bird sanctuary after a couple of hours at North Beach. The park has ongoing construction but has always been open despite the works. 

This morning the gates were locked shut, I don't ever remember the park being closed. It's fortunate there are some things you can count on in July, it is stinking hot, that you can absolutely count on. And if you spend the month at North Beach in this stinking heat you can be absolutely sure you will start seeing mirages...  


The week started with what was probably a pair of Greater Crested Terns but they were high, distant and heading into the setting sun. There were good numbers of Common, Little and White-cheeked Terns all week with frequent visits from Lesser Crested Terns, Bridled Terns and Parasitic Skuas. can't complain. But Shearwaters have been very scarce probably due to declining populations. 5:30 am this morning I spot two blotches on the water way out in the murky haze. I'm pretty sure they're shearwaters but I'm going to need more light to know anything more. It would also be really helpful if they got off their butts and flew around a bit, but without a breath of wind that probably won't happen in a hurry. 40 minutes of waiting and they start looking interesting, a nice black and white plumage, thin bill, compact …..remember the mirages… I could really do with a better telescope - who can I bother at 6am??? Noam is jet-lagged, just back from Panama, perfect! Of course a minute after waking the dead and sending an "Interesting bird" update one of them flies 5 metres. the huge wings belonging to a Cory's Shearwater. such is life. 


KM20 may have no Flamingos but it is getting some waders now and Noam Weiss found a Red Phalarope paddling around there yesterday. Le'a and I went to twitch it for her list and there were plenty of Redshanks and Kentish Plovers, first Marsh Sandpipers, Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Ringed Plover and today a Greater Sand Plover joined them. 


A Grey/Red Phalarope...we'll decide on the name when he decides what colour he's going to be!


A Sooty Falcon was at North Beach yesterday, the date palms and the park today while three Hoopoe Larks were seen by Shimon in the centre strip of the KM20 ponds ….wandering around his vehicle. No sign of the Crested Honey Buzzards or visiting birders but I'm sure they all be back soon!





July has arrived, not a time we look forward to in Eilat. The hell of extreme heat, school holidays and no migration leads us appreciate even minor mercies. This week we were grateful that the temperature sat around a mild 39-40C and not the 45C+ that awaits us. We were also grateful that Eilat is remarkably quiet and North Beach is quiet, no trance music, screaming teenagers, tents and litter. And we were also grateful that normal service has returned to the beach with 30-40 White-cheeked Terns active most of the day, similar numbers of Common and Little Terns are fishing constantly, small numbers of Sandwich and Caspian Terns, the occasional Lesser Crested and Bridled Terns, Parasitic Skuas and to sweeten things dolphins, leaping Dolphin Fish and Eagle Rays and the ever-present Flying Fish. 

Visibility was really good in the morning and I even had the company of Rony Livne who is still waiting patiently for a Red-billed Tropicbird. Small numbers of waders are arriving regularly, Common Sandpipers, some rough looking Ruffs, Greenshanks and lots of Redshanks. 


A Sooty Falcon visited the park as did a young White-crowned Wheatear, lots of Pale Crag Martins now moving around, Lior Kislev had 13 Lichtensteins Sandgrouse drinking at KM19 and that is about it. So if you have the misfortune of finding yourself in Eilat in July, hit the beach and be thankful for small mercies....it can even be quite fun.





Shachar Shalev



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