Friday, March 23, 2018

Champions of the Flyway day 1

Arrived late last night, and this morning I hit Mt. Amasa very early, hoping that the Persian Wheatear had stayed another night. I met up there with a few more birders, and after some searching we did find it. Phew. Thank you for being so patient with me. Very glad with this tick - actually a global lifer. I found it much more striking than I had imagined. It is very big, with a unique elongated silhouette, resembling Hooded Wheatear with that long bill. Very different from the cute and rounded Kurdistan Wheatear. It did not play ball photography-wise, but I guess I can't complain. Here it is - Israel's second Persian Wheatear:

With Northern Wheatear

I had such a lovely time there. As I have written before, this is one of my favourite places to be in Israel this time of year. The habitat is so beautiful. It actually took the birds a while to become active, but eventually we had brilliant activity. Superb soundscape of Long-billed Pipits and Cuckoos singing, lots of wheatears flying around, sylvias in every bush - just great.

Beautiful flowering Phlomis Platystegia


Eastern Scrub Warbler

Common Whitethroat and its wee cousin, Spectacled Warbler

Stonking male Woodchat Shrike singing his head off, without opening the bill

Quite a few Blue Rock Thrushes around; also two Rufous-tailed but no photos of them

Corn Bunting

I had to leave early to get to Eilat on time. Had a quick, productive stop at Navit Pools with Baillon's & Little Crakes, Dead Sea Sparrows, Clamorous Warblers and Ferruginous Ducks. Then I continued heading south, but stopped all the time to admire the wonderful raptor migration. Weather was unstable today and the raptors were flying very low even at noon. I was excited as if I am a European birder. Well, maybe I am.

Down at Eilat, it was good to meet up with all my friends. In the afternoon did some selfies at KM20 saltpans, and even saw some birds there, including the long-stayer Lesser Flamingo.

Most uninspiring mega ever

Greater Sand with Little Stint

I'm sexy and I know it

In the evening we had a fantastic COTF event, 'Future of the Flyways', supported by Leica. Inspiring stuff and good fun. Socializing is great, but I can't wait to go out birding in the morning! Bring it on!

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