Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Calandra Larks

This morning Amir Ben-Dov and myself visited the best Calandra Lark site in Greater Jerusalem, near Adam. This is a beautiful area, right on the edge of the Judean desert. It holds a fascinating mix of high-altitude and desert species.
We got there early, and at first had no sign of the larks. But at 06:31, all at once, 15 males took off simultaneously and started singing their heads off. They are such awesome larks and it was very interesting to observe their communal courtship behaviour. Their mimicry is really amazing. One specific male was singing for more than an hour non-stop above our heads. During this period I identified 21 species in his reputation: Kestrel, Alpine Swift, Crested, Desert, Short-toed and Sky-larks, White Wagtail, Meadow, Long-billed and Tawny Pipits, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Black-eared Wheatear, Prinia, Scrub Warbler, Tristram's Starling, House Sparrow, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, and Corn Bunting!

Photography-wise we had very poor results. Sitting inside the hide was a total waste of time as the males cover huge distances chasing each other and didn't keep strict territories. I only got some record shots. At least this one is with nice spring colours:

And the same image heavily cropped:

On the ground:

The hills were covered in anemones and other flowers.

Other good birds in the area included a singing Eurasian Cuckoo, Black-eared and Finsch's Wheatears, and most other species mentioned by the calandras above.
Nearby we had this pair of Long-legged Buzzard. I was bloody slow and missed the short copulation by split second:

Here the Mrs. is smoking the post-cigarette:

And then she took off:


  1. Hi Yoav,
    I follow your blog for months and I think that is splendid. Both the texts and the photos are of high quality, and we are away from your country, provides a window to see what happens there.
    I'm writing to tell you in a couple of weeks or so, we know, since it is part of a group of Spanish birders are going to do a trip to Israel. We stayed with you for the 14th, hoping to show us the most difficult species we have for that day.
    You have a very good reputation, so I'm sure you will not fail.
    Then only that, send a greeting from the center of Spain and see you soon ... Greetings.

  2. Alfonso, thanks for yours. See you soon!