Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Champions of the Flyway 2016

Champions of the Flyway 2016 is behind us and now there's some time to look back. It has been an amazing 48 hours of adrenalin and birds and emotions. I will begin with a quick back-log of March 28th. Had some time in the morning for a quick look in Yotvata. The fields were alright with some nice migrants. Best was an Oriental Skylark and a female Siberian Stonechat.

Siberian Stonechat

It was associating with this Whinchat:

Two Montagu's Hrrriers hunted low over the fields:

Booted Eagle

Desert Finches 

Steppe Buzzard in nice early morning light

The sewage ponds were relatively empty, maybe because there are Egyptian Geese there now:

 Black-headed Yellow Wagtails

Marsh Sandpiper - so pretty in summer plumage

Photo-bombed by Black-winged Stilt

With Little Ringed Plover and Green Sandpipers

Several Masked Shrikes there as well

When leaving I stopped to witness the incredible raptor passage overhead. I counted some for fun - I had 2000 Steppe Buzzards and about 400 Black Kites in 15 minutes, also 40 Steppe and two Eastern Imperial Eagles. Ming-blowing.

On the race day itself (March 29th) I was out with the teams. In the early morning I went up to the stunning Seifim Plains. 

I spent some time there and had quality birds - Temminck's, Lesser Short-toed, Bimaculated and Bar-tailed Larks, Cream-coloured Courser, Rock Thrush, Spotted Sandgrouse etc.

Desert Wheatears 

Big numbers of Northern Wheatears and Tawny Pipits:

Hen Harrier

 Martijn from Dutch Knights with Rock Thrush:

Meidad and his team Sooty Falcons

Checked a few small sites further north that had many migrants - Collared Flycatchers, Ortolans, Wrynecks, Nightingales etc. Neot Smadar held nothing unusual.

Black-eared Wheatear

Namaqua Dove - always pretty

supecilliaris Yellow Wagtail

Ofira park held a sweet selection of migrants that included:

Cretzschmar's Buntings


In the afternoon focused more on the busy sites of KM20 saltpans and north beach. Like and outdoor BirdFair almost. So many friends coming and going - tried to help them to collect the important species quickly - Greater Sandplover, Brown Boobies etc.

After all the teams finished before midnight Itai, Jonathan and me sat on the lists until very late. The results are all over social media. Anyway congratulations to the winning teams Arctic Redpolls and Jehova's Chickens for their fantastic efforts. Well done all teams for the awesome fundraising to help HOS prevent illegal killing of birds in Greece - a record breaking $67,000! The ceremony event was incredible with huge support and power, and hope in the form of the brilliant children that took part in the race and did very well. My appreciations goes to my friends and colleagues Dan and Jonathan for their professional dedication to this great event. Till next year!

1 comment:

  1. I am glad this year was a great succes. This last March I was for two weeks in Israel after more than 30 years but stayed in the North of the country with friends and did my birding there. Next time I hope to go down South as well.