Thursday, August 29, 2019

Hooded Wheatear

Yesterday I worked in the Judean Desert, helping INPA with breeding raptor monitoring. I joined the local ranger Jamil, and Amir. Sloping east down from the mountains towards the desert plateau, we were greeted with breathtaking desert vistas:

There we found quite many wheatears, including several Hooded Wheatear families. Lovely birds to see. I have not seen many fresh juveniles before - quite a unique plumage:

This is mom, freshly moulted hence the pale tips to lesser coverts:

When we reached the mightly cliffs of the big canyons, the sun was high up already. But down in the deep canyons it was still nice and cool (I guess). Scoping this tiny spring, there were very large numbers of passerines coming in to drink - Sinai Rosefinches, Striolated Buntings and Trumpeter Finches. Too distant to photograph.

Alongside the local breeding raptors, small numbers (a few tens) of European Honey Buzzards took off. Tiny numbers compared to the heavy passage further west. This adult female has some funny features - quite heavy build, small dark gorget, barring on free section of fingers, reaching all the way to axillaries.

Mammal-wise we did not see much, but found signs of wolves and hyena.

Thanks to Jamil and Amir for a lovely day.

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