As I have mentioned earlier on, we're doing a breeding atlas in 'Batha' habitats (barren, rocky slopes) this spring. today I did an atlas box at Mt. Amasa, N of Arad. As I have also mentioned before, this is one of my favourite birding sites in March. Arrived very early and was greeted by a superb dawn chorus - Woodlarks, Linnets, Eastern Black-eared Wheatears, Rock and Hill Sparrows. When there was enough light I started walking the slopes. I found some species pretty advanced in breeding: Spectacled Warblers with fledglings, Rock Sparrows and Little Owls with active nests.
Spectacled Warbler - male
Spectacled Warbler on Phlomis platystegia bush
Phlomis platystegia is a dominant bush in this area, though it has a rather restricted range. Such pretty landscape.
Eastern Black-eared Wheatears were very active; I had 14 singing males - very good density. They are amazing mimics. I saw no females at all. Incubating?
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear
Still some Finsch's Wheatears around - I had four males and this female:
Finsch's Wheatear - female
Other interesting breeding species I had were Long-billed Pipit (pair), singing Eurasian Cuckoo, singing Cretzschmar's Bunting, three pais of Rock Sparrows, four singing Hill Sparrows, four pairs of Little Owl (nominates), two pairs of Scrub Warblers, breeding Blue Rock Thrush - very good species composition in this special habitat.
They are cool little birds aren't they?
Not too many migrants around; 4-5 Rueppel's Warblers represented a good migration wave through S Israel these days.
Eyed Tulip (Tulipa agenensis)
Palestinians crossing the border to poach herbs from the Nature Reserve create a serious conservation concern. They are mainly after Gundelia tournefortii, which has entered our Red List as a result of this poaching.
Nearby, at Tel Arad NP, Gilead Irises (Iris loessicola) are flowering.
In the afternoon I located a HUGE locust swarm on my way to Noam's kindergarten., some minutes away from my house. I was in a hurry and had no camera with me... but it was an amazing sight.