Thursday, July 11, 2019

Farewell to Yael

Yesterday I reached a personal milestone in my eBird 2019 Checklist-a-day Challenge. It was my 200th day in a row of submitting meaningful eBird checklists. The last day that I did not submit an eBird checklist was December 23rd 2018. 

I spent the day with SPNI's youth bird club, led by the wonderful Yael Lehnardt, up on Mt. Hermon. This was Yael's ultimate trip with the group before moving on. Huge appreciation to Yael for years of endless dedication, efforts and inspiration. She raised a fantastic generation of brilliant young birders, naturalists and conservationists. These young boys and girls already impact the Israeli birding and wildlife scene greatly. Our birding itinerary included a strenuous climb up Mt. Hermon, from 1400m to 2100m. It was very hot, solar radiation was fierce, terrain was rough and our backs were in pain for carrying so much water and gear. However, it was such a symbolic morning, to conquer the mountain, see the birds, and feel the youngster's huge satisfaction of withstanding the challenge.
Birding was tough, but we managed to see all expected Hermon specialties, including Asian Crimson-winged Finch, Pale Rockfinch, Horned Lark, Sombre Tit and Western Rock Nuthatch. Perhaps the most extraordinary observation was a congregation of forty (!) Common Ravens, surely attracted to rubbish outside a military base. This is by far the largest concentration every recorded in Israel of this scarce species. Nice also to connect with two Chaffinch, that only recently were realised to breed in Israel. I managed three checklists with the group- of the climb up, hills abovethe upper cable station, and drinking pools. My bird photos are shit, sorry - harsh light and other excuses.

Stunning vista over the Hula Valley before climbing up

Common Raven

Horned Lark

Tail-less Pale Rockfinch

Juvvy Syrian Serins

Zygaena olivieri

Our climb

Yael and her group

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