Saturday, April 28, 2012

Not Alaemon, Irania!

This morning I surveyed with Meidad my favorite wadi of the central Arava. This site was very productive during previous years when I did my atlas survey there - see some examples here and here. We left home rediculously early and arrived on site at first light. First it was pretty cold and we saw nothing. Then it warmed up a bit and we still saw nothing. Then it got pretty hot and we still saw nothing. Eventually I heard a distant Hoopoe Lark singing, and had a pair of Bar-tailed Larks, plus some migrants, but that was it more or less. Very disappointing. I don't know exactly what the reason was for this poor show. Again it was a very dry winter there, with no germination of annuals at all in spring, thus this breeding season must have been very poor. However I was expecting a bit more. Maybe it was just one of these days that birds don't want to play.
We left the remote wadi in mid morning and started heading back home, both of us totally knackered both physically and mentally. We phoned Barak & Oz who were birding nearby at Neot Smadar. In an amazing act of prophecy, I asked Barak to find an Irania within the next few minutes before we reached a junction leading us away from Neot Smadar. Six minutes later - text from Barak: "Irania. too late?". I made a U-turn and we headed south to Neot Smadar. We got onto the bird quite quickly - it was a lifer for Meidad and a good bird neverthless. Perhaps not as exciting as in Hartlepool but still a great bird to see - large and charismatic with that big black tail. This species breeds in very small numbers on Mt. Hermon, but is always more exciting to watch as a rare migrant in the south. Many thanks to Barak & Oz for the quick info and directions.

White-throated Robin - female

The place was packed full with birds: during the ten minutes we were there we saw many B&W flycatchers, nightingales, buntings, shrikes, pipits and of course millions of Blackcaps. Several Crag Martins worth noting. Good passage of Honey Buzzards and levants overhead. But I was dead tired so we gave up on birding and made the long way back home.

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