Friday, March 30, 2012

Eilat Festival update day 5 - wheatear masterclass

Blogging on the road is not easy but I will do my best. Here are my adventures as of yesterday. I will post some more fresh stuff from today later on tonight.
So we (Dan, Martin G, Neil G and myself) started off early and went to check the Basalt Wheatear out. It has been showing only on and off over the last few days and has become less predictable, and we were not surprised not to find it in its usual spot. Only after extensive searching it was located some distance to the north by French birders (thanks guys!), and it showed very well in nice morning light. Martin started screaming like a little girl - it was one of his most-wanted birds of the trip.

Basalt Wheatear

Some bastard ringed it last week so I appologize for the ring (it was me...)

Big lens small lens - Rami and Martin

Satisfied we left for Neot Smadar. The place was just unbelievable - I have not seen such huge numbers of migrants for a long long time. In fact for the first time after many years I had the feeling that I am not keeping up with the speed of new exciting birds on show. It felt like a toy shop where one can choose a bird of one's choice. We did some walking through the fields outside the kibbutz and had a quick look at the alfalfa field inside the kibbutz. Hundreds and hundreds of common and scarce migrants of all sorts. The trend of quality wheatears continued and Martin and myself had a great time studying both Pied and Cyprus Wheatears.

Pied Wheatear - 2cy male - this bird showed very well just at the gate. Note the long, thick legs, relatively long and massive bill. Lots of white on the rump. Long primary projection. Pied Wheatear migrates longer distances than cyprus, so it has a different wing formula - longer primary projection, very pointed wingtip (P2 and P3 very close together), short P1.

Then this 2cy male Cyprus Wheatear showed exceptionally well inside the kibbutz, even singing occasionally. Another bird was in the same field, a female. Note more compact and delicate build - small sweet-looking bill, rounded head, thin legs, short primary projection with fewer visible primaries. Note prominent moult limit indicating this is a 2cy. Very limited white on rump, hardly climbing up the back.

Lots of commoner wheatears present too, including this very dull and rather dark female Eastern Black-eared Wheatear. Female pied would be much sootier and darker, with darker breast and some faint streaking on breast and upper flanks.

Another beautiful thrush - male Rock Thrush:

After a good breakfast Neil and myself headed to north beach for a quick look. Just outside the hotel we spotted this Osprey perched on a street lamp overlooking the sea, totally oblivious of the heavy traffic below it:

North beach was rather quiet but still had the two long-staying Brown Boobies, Western Reef Egret, Sibe and Baltic Gulls and this ugly Striated Heron:

In the evening I led the Rambo Night tour. Both nightjars - egyptian and nubian showed extremely well. Then off to the Judean Desert. This time luck was on our side and we had superb views of a male Hume's Owl, perched, hooting and then flying around, and heard another female nearby. Very special desert experience of walking on a moonlit night in a remote wadi. This time it was Neil's turn to scream like a little girl. When we arrived back at our minibus we saw a Wild Cat feeding on some rubbish left by campers - cool stuff. Arrived back at Eilat at 03:00, two hours of sleep and back in the field. To be continued...

1 comment:

  1. Exciting stuff, I wish I was there. How often do you see Palestine Sunbirds?