Monday, March 28, 2011

Eilat festival - days 7,8 and summary

The last couple of days of the festival were really exhausting and I had no energy to write daily updates. So here we go. Saturday was another good day. I led the Arava morning tour. We started off at KM76, and as we got off the van I heard a distant Hoopoe Lark singing from across the Jordanian border but we were unable to see it. Not too many migrants around but we had great views of a pair of Cream-coloured Coursers and some Spotted Sandgrouse were flying around. Eastern Stonechat was the only migrant worth noting. Yotvata fields were good as always with lots of larks and pipits. Booted Eagles were stooping on birds all the time, and we heard one Oriental Skylark.
In the afternoon I did the traditional Dead-Sea Sparrow visit to KM19 - quite a few of our guests were very eager to get them before going back home. There was a nice flock of about 50 birds in these dry reeds:

Yesterday was the closing day of the festival. Jonathan and I led a short morning tour near Eilat, focusing on some 'holes' in our festival list. First we got in touch with a female Semicollared Flycatcher in the Eilot date plantations. All our guests had good scope views. We then drove on to the Eilat marina where we found two Striated Herons. Both were young birds:

This bird behaved like a kingfisher - it dived from this rope into the water after a fish: Later on we tried for Hooded Wheatear in the Eilat mountains. We couldn't find the bloody birds but enjoyed the scenery and tranquility of the desert.

The festival was a great success, much thanks to the great efforts and organization of Dan and Jonathan. As a part of the team I had a great week, met lots of great people and saw terrific birds. Migration was a bit on the slow side but still very impressive. We had a festival total of 224 species - not bad for a relatively slow week!

All the guests I talked to were very pleased and went back home with a great smile on their face and a plan for their next visit to Israel, so that made all the effort worth while.

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