Saturday, April 27, 2019

Back to the hills

After the short Cypriot break, I resumed fieldwork in the Batha hills north of Jerusalem. On Thursday I surveyed some higher-elevation hills. While bird densities were somewhat low, perhaps due to higher levels of anthropogenic disturbance, I did find most expected breeding species including Long-billed Pipit, Cuckoo, many Eastern Black-eared Wheatears and Cretzschmar's bunting. As expected at these higher elevations, there was quite good activity of Woodlark - top quality bird IMO.

That wing pattern

Zoothera Lark!

Also Spectacled Warblers were pretty active and showed nicely, though light was a bit harsh:

On Prickly Thornet (Sarcopoterium spinosum)

With Red Everlasting (Helichrysum sanguineum) bottom right

Despite the near-shrubless habitat, there were hordes of Blackcaps in the low bushes, and Ortolans, mainly on the move but some came down to drink in puddles:

Black-veined White are very common in this habitat:

Pyramidal Orchid is one of the latest-flowering orchids in Israel:

Yesterday in the afternoon I visited Gazelle Valley in Jerusalem with Piki and my brother. We searched without success for a Great Snipe that is still there. Big numbers of swifts were impressive - those ultra-aerobats drinking in the main pond against the sun provided some photographic opportunities that I barely grasped:

Gazelle Valley eBird checklist here.

Today was super-productive at my local patch and at home. I had a Little Bittern surprise me in the garden while hanging up laundry, and a Red-footed Falcon flew over.  An early morning visit to my patch, Nahal Ekron (see checklist here) produced the goods - Little and Spotted Crake, Little Bittern and Barred Warbler on a fantastic Mulberry tree that also hosted 2 Golden Orioles.

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