Sunday, November 24, 2019


Those who have been following my blog for some years might remember that I used to spend a considerable amount of birding time in Ashdod. Ashdod is Israel's fifth largest city. Despite its rapid growth and development, it still hosts several excellent wildlife sites. For a few years I ran a city project to enhance conservation within the city boundaries, focusing mainly on Lakhish Park and Yavne 4 ponds. I had some good birding years there, but times and fortunes shifted in the city, the project ended and I relocated to the UK. Since my return to Israel and never really had the chance to revisit those sites properly. During the brief visits I had, I was depressed by the amount of recent development, causing loss and degradation of so much habitat.
This morning I had a meeting in Lakhish Park, so decided to invest  bit more time in my old stomping grounds. I started off at Yavne 4 ponds, and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of birding there. Gulls, shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors, passerines - the place was whopping with birds (eBird checklist here). Highlight was a Siberian Buff-belied Pipit that showed well through the scope. Gulls were present in decent numbers, though I am concerned by the low numbers of Baltic Gull, probably reflecting the dire state of this taxon on its breeding grounds. Siberian Gulls were present in nice numbers, and there was also a lovely Pallas's Gull. I couldn't find any rings at all.

Three Siberian Gulls and a Baltic Gull

Pallas's Gull and three young Armenian Gulls (and teal and stilt)

My meeting in Lakhish Park was outdoors, so I casually birded the park, and quite enjoyed it (eBird checklist here). The native White Acacia trees were in flower, attracting Chiffchaffs, Sylvias and many sunbirds:

A dramatic change that happened during my years of absence is the colonisation of Striated Heron along the Mediterranean coast. They are now breeding at several sites along the coast, including Lakhish Park. I had three individuals:

And a late Squacco:

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