Migration is peaking now in Israel. The weather is still quite awful - midday temperatures soar into the mid 30's, but the early mornings offer some respite and are pleasant enough for birds and for birders. I keep going out birding every morning, even now during our second lockdown. I have fieldwork to do, and anti-poaching duties, which thankfully keep me outdoors.
The fields and reservoirs near home are packed full with birds, offering some hope that we have not screwed the world up completely, yet. Often, early morning birding sessions end up with an impressive tally (check this representative checklist for example). Willow Warblers numbers are very low, but other species groups seem to be doing OK - shrikes, buntings, chats. Young Lesser Gray Shrikes are seen in numbers now - very neat birds:
Numbers of Cretzschmar's and Ortolans and even now - Cretzs still around in force:
Raptor migration is very prominent now. Luckily, I live on the main highway. Unlucky for me, I need to spend most hours of the day working indoors - wish I could sit outside all day with a cold beer and stare at the skies. However, every time I stick my head out of the air-conditioned house between 10:00 and 15:00 and look up there are convoys up in the sky, of Lesser Spotted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, Honey Buzzard, Black Kite and many other species (check this checklist
Lesser Spotted Eagle and two levants
Part of a flock of 800 Levant Sparrowhawks
It's a good time of year for shorebirds too. A visit to Ma'agan Michael
offered good views of Bar-tailed Godwits - scarce in Israel:
Gan Shmuel fishponds
hosted a Pectoral Sandpiper - I had to go and visit. 15th for Israel, I have seen a few before but always nice to connect with:
Pec Sand with friends
Best bird I found recently was yesterday - while birding with Piki in Tal Shachar (good fun!
) we flushed a snipe from under our feet - it gave a familiar call, taking me back to November 1998
- Pin-tailed Snipe! In flight we noticed that there was no trailing edge, it was stocky with a short bill, but if flew away and out of sight. Sadly no photo but satisfying birding moment! We couldn't relocate it - hope it shows up again.
Sadly, not all of my work includes happy birding moments. On Friday I was called to retrieve a transmitter of a dead Bonelli's Eagle not far from home, and asses the cause of death. No need for detective work to make this assessment:
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