Started off early this morning and did an atlas box near Meitar in the N Negev. Last year I also checked this box and it was really good. Today I had a very difficult time there. Perhaps the negative effect of overgrazing, perhaps the grey and cold weather, I had there very few breeding birds. In fact I saw almost all species I was expecting to (Long-billed Pipit, Black-eared Wheatear, Spectacled Warbler) but in very low densities, and even the few birds I saw didn't cooperate for photography.
So I left rather early, half-depressed, and decided to go and enjoy some better birding at nearby Mt. Amasa, north of Arad. How I enjoy these days when I open the car door and the first bird I hear is this:
I had about 20 singing males, many displaying and showing territorial behaviour. They are new arrivals - when Meidad had checked this site a couple of days ago he had just two or three. It rained well in this area and the habitat looks very good - hope they will stay and breed like they had done several times in recent decade.
Lots of other quality birds around - 2 Cinereous Bunting (very mobile again), 1 female Subalpine Warbler, 1 Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush and many Blues, good numbers of Eastern Black-eared Wheatears and Rock Sparrows, Scrub Warblers etc.
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush from a mile away
Blue Rock Thrush - female
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear
Raptor migration was quite slow - only a trickle of Steppe Buzzards and Black Kites, but there was a lovely flock of c. 50 migrant Lesser Kestrels on the ground, feeding frantically on beatles. Such beautiful falcons.
Tomorrow I'm joining the Eilat Festival team - pity I had to miss the first few days but I am sure I will have a great time there. Stay posted.