Had a very nice morning at Kfar Ruppin in the Bet Shean Valley. My first assignment was Little Bustards - after a lone individual was first seen there on December 21st, numbers slowly grew and now the flock contains 21 birds! The largest flock of this rare and endangered species recorded in Israel in recent decade. Anyway, I met up with Amir who was already on the birds when I arrived. At first they were far away and deep inside a field, only their heads sticking up above the alfalfa. Then a harrier flushed them, they took off and landed very close to us. They were suprisingly friendly for such tasty birds. First they were hiding in the wet field, but slowly walked out onto a track, dried up, preened, shook their feathers and wings and stretched.
Very charismatic birds. Incredible details on each feather. Peculiar vertical tail structure.
Stunning wing pattern. This bird has a moult limit in PC and primaries - suspended moult? Anyone knows something about their moult?
All these images are large crops - we kept distance from them.
After I had enough of the bustards I moved on for some other stuff. In the fields near the kibbutz there were some Black Storks, including this Slovakian-ringed adult (thanks Kobi for the speedy reply):
Then I went to look for one of the 5-6 'Isabelline' Shrikes wintering in the area. This beautiful, gingery Daurian Shrike was shy and mobile, shame about the branch across the eye:
Lots of birds in the fishponds - ducks, shorebirds, gulls, herons etc. 6 Greater Flamingos were in one of the ponds:
Big gull roost in one of the empty reservoirs. I counted 8 Pallas's Gulls in this image, part of about 50 in that group. Also in this image one Caspian Gull. Can you see it?
Osprey - refused to jump