Friday, December 31, 2010

Special review - the best of 2010

The year started off rather quietly with no real rarities to go for after I went for the Red-throated Divers in the last days of 2009. Ron Haran found a few Siberian Buff-bellied Pipits at the northern Dead Sea that were nice to see:

This Cory's Shearwater spent a few days close offshore at Ashdod and offered superb views. Why is it not a borealis that has no records in Israel accepted yet? Note the extensive and well-marked black on the primary tips, and very pale yellow bill:

I spent the best part of March guiding the at International Birdwatching Festival at Eilat. It was a fascinating period with superb migration and lots of good birds. The most intriguing was this putative Lesser Sand-plover (what else could it be being so small?).
Another good bird I had but too briefly was a Blyth's Pipit of which I have no images. This Pied Wheatear at Yotvata was another festival highlight:

I spent much of the spring working for the atlas project in Nizzana and the Arava. The excellent winter rainfall strongly affected breeding bird populations in both regions. I didn't find any Asian desert Warblers breeding but they were present in good numbers at Nizzana:

Spectacled Warblers had a fantastic breeding season:

Also sandgrouse fared well. Here are some Pin-tails:

Later in the spring a large breeding influx of Hill Sparrows arrived in southern Israel and thousands of pairs bred successfully:
In the Arava larks were the main attraction. We found a good breeding concentration of Arabian Dunn's Larks:

And also the nomadic Thick-billed Larks had a super breeding season:

Also the resident but rare Hoopoe Larks had the best breeding season for many years:

During the spring and summer I continued monitoring the critically endangered Nubian Nightjar population at Kikar Sdom:

In mid-summer a huge drinking spot for seedeaters in the high Negev Mts. was discovered, and it produced a couple of interesting ringing sessions with huge numbers of Hill Sparrows, Desert Larks and Trumpeter Finches:

The annual ringing session on Mt. Hermon was the busiest ever and produced most local specialties such as this Western Rock Nuthatch:

This Black-winged Kite at Nizzana in late August was the first of an impressive national influx that involved about 15 birds, most belonged to the Asian form vociferus:

In September and October migrating shorebirds were the main attraction. This confiding Bar-tailed Godwit at Ashdod was a good one:

Late October and November had the adrenalin pumping with good arrivals of Siberian species. Best bird of the autumn (and year?) for me was this beautiful Black-throated Accentor ringed at Netiv Halamed'He, Israel's 2nd:

Another excellent bird I had in early November was an Eyebrowed Thrush at the JBO, but it was too brief and no images of it. Other good birds were this Isabelline Shrike at Ashdod:

Yellow-browed Warbler at Tsor'a:

Grey Phalarope at Eilat:

And Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit again in the northern Dead Sea:

I spent most of December in Kenya, with one of the highlights being the beautiful Crab Plovers at Mida Creek:

I wish everyone a sucessfull 2011, with lots of good birds and images!

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