Sunday, March 31, 2019

Birding IBOC2019

I am part of the organising team of IBOC2019. As such, I am expected to spend my time in the conference hall, listen to all fascinating presentations, participate in exciting workshops, mingle and brainstorm. However, all I really want to do is go birding. I lead early morning tours for IBOC participants, that are nice but too rushed and group is very big. I try to sneak out once or twice a day for a cheeky hour of birding - again not ideal birding conditions but better than nothing.
Yesterday very first thing in the morning I led an IBOC tour to Holland Park. It was quite OK with many warblers (though I expect a post-8am visit would yield more Sylvias), Barbary Falcon and a flyover Egyptian Vulture (eBird checklist here):

In the afternoon I went up with Amir, Mark and Annie up scenic Wadi Shlomo. Weather was quite shit, resulting in slow bird and reptile activity. We did bump into three Nubian Ibex - their population in Eilat Mts. is tiny so that was pretty cool. Also cool not to see them feeding out of rubbish bins. 

On our way out we spent a few enjoyable minutes with a pair of Sand Partridges. They are common desert birds for us here in Israel, but I sincerely appreciate their subtle beauty and uniqueness. The male was clearly in the zone - he almost certainly showed off to us - he was facing us all the time, eyeballing us, pumping up and calling. I interpret this beaviour as showing off to the female: 'Look at me, see how brave I am displaying and singing exposed to crazy predation risk from these dangerous humans!'.

Incredible structure on upper mandible covering nostrils:

This morning has been OK so far. KM20 saltpans were somewhat quiet, but birding was brightened up by a cracking flyby male Pallid Harrier, and flocks of Yellow Wagtails, Short-toed Larks and hirundines on the move north. Later on, with Jonathan, Elifaz sewage was rather birdy with many warblers and wagtails, Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin, a couple of nightingales etc.

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