Thursday, December 29, 2011

Special: my birding review of 2011

2011 was a very busy year for me. Personally, I moved to a new house, and many ideas developed and evolved in my job. Birdingwise, it was a fantastic year. Did much fieldwork, especially during spring, that allowed me to see some great birds. In addition, I maintained my flexibility at work, which allowed me to twitch heavily, and I didn't miss anything major this year.
The year began well with one of the three Israeli ticks I had this year. This Black-throated Thrush stayed for a week or two in January in the Upper Galilee:

The most interetsing phenomenon in February was the huge concentration of Thick-billed Larks is several sites in the Arava and S Negev. I organized a large ringing session at Ha'Meishar, and we ringed Thick-billed Larks for the first time in Israel:

March was a very busy month, with lots of fieldwork and lots of good migrants. Though not a full species (yet), this very striking male Masked Wagtail at Ma'agan Michael was the 2nd for Israel:

The main event during March was the Eilat festival. While guiding and between guiding I saw lots of great birds. Some of the personal festival highlights were this Menetries's Warbler at the IBRCE:

And this Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit I found at Lotan:

Photography-wise, this male Pallid Harrier at Yotvata made my week:

April and May were dedicated to atlas fieldwork in the Arava and Nizzana. Some of the better species I found breeding were Hoopoe Lark and Temminck's Lark:

June is normally a quiet month for birding in Israel, but this year June was a busy month for me. It began well with a late Green Warbler I ringed at Ashdod, only the 6th for Israel:

I also visited some good breeding habitats. Mountain Bunting is one of the better breeding birds in our deserts:
In late June I joined Avi Meir for a short 'pelagic' in the Gulf of Aqaba, which was fantastic. Cory's Shearwaters were the main attraction. Only in recent years we started documenting Cory's Shearwaters in Israel. Till then it wa thought that we receive only Scopoli's Shearwaters.

My main activity in July was the annual ringing session on Mt. Hermon, which produced the best birds of the mountain in the hand, like this Sombre Tit:

In August I moved to my new house so had little time for birding, but I did manage to find this very early Grey Phalarope at Revadim, a very good inland record:

In September migration picked up considerabely, and I had many enjoyable days out in the field. A pair of Black-winged Kites started breeding at Agamon Hula, and during the Hula festival in November we enjoyed watching their four youngsters:

This male Greater Painted-snipe at HaMa'apil fishponds in late September was a good starter for a rarity-packed autumn:
Early in October I found a Blyth's Pipit in a field not far from my house, but wasn't able to photograph it. Israeli tick number two.
During October I managed to get one of the best images of Nubian Nightjar I have ever achieved:
I went to have a look at this possible Taiga Flycatcher ringed at Sde Boker - no final conclusions on this bird yet:
In early November I ringed this Yellow-browed Warbler at Ashdod. It was a good autumn for these little beauties:

My main event during November was the Hula Festival - I guided there for a full week and saw tons of birds, such as Eurasian Cranes, and lots of good stuff in the Hula Valley and other parts of northen Israel
From mid November things really started to boil up. First, this Hume's Warbler I found with Re'a Shaish at Mitzpe Ramon:

Then, against my will, I had to drive down to Eilat for Israel's 2nd Red-flanked Bluetail:

A few days later I returned to Eilat to watch this fantastic male Grey Hypocolius at the IBRCE:

And a few days later, in early December, I had to travel all the way up north to the opposite corner of the country, for these Whooper Swans - the 5th record for Israel:

The next mega rarity was just slightly closer - the 2nd Bean Goose for Israel at Kfar Barukh:

Not at great rarity - but a super bird, and globally endangered - Sociable Lapwing in the NW Negev:
The last twitch of the year was another long-distance one, and produced my 2nd Israeli tick of the Year, Israel's 1st Firecerst in the N Golan Heights:

I wish you all a great 2012, and I wish myself another great birding year (hopefully I will not have to pay for my petrol...). My wish list for 2012 includes Pink-backed Pelican, Yellow-billed Stork and Blyth's Reed. Good luck!


  1. Very nice birding and good pics!
    Have a great 2012 in your country with those nice birds!
    Saludos from Spain

  2. Great stuff Yoav, what a year! Here's hoping for another one in 2012. Happy New Year, Mike

  3. A mouth-watering year Yoav - Firecrest would be a good bird locally for me !!!

    ATB and have an even better New Year....

    Laurie -