Thursday, November 19, 2020


This morning I birded with Jonathan in the agricultural fields around Gal'on in the southern Judean Plains. Yesterday a young Bateleur was found there by Shraga Alon:

I was keen to get a photo of it. I have seen several in Israel, including earlier this year, but haven't managed a photo yet. The obliging, long-staying bird that spent most of its time in the exact same area overlapped its lengthy stay with my time in the UK.

This is an excellent part of the country, very bird rich. So the hours we spent birding and scanning until Jonathan spotted the Bateleur were enjoyable and fruitful. I found a young Isabelline Shrike, sadly with a deformed bill:

A flock of 43 Wood-Pigeons flew south:

There were many eagles about, including Greater Spotted, Imperial and Bonelli'sץ Volume off! Horrible noise from route 6:

Then Jonathan spotted the Bateleur, flying far to our west, showing its unique and distinctive wing shape and tail-less silhouette:

After a while it flew towards us, in better light but by the time I caught up with it, it was already heading away:

Very cool bird! Close examination of wear and notches indicates that this individual may be the same bird seen in August in the Golan Heights, though I am not sure. Thanks to Yotam Bashan and Ezra Hadad for allowing me to use their images:

Tuesday, November 17, 2020


This morning I surveyed a beautiful acacia wadi in the Arava Valley, together with Meidad. Weather was lovely, trees in blossom, happy birds and birders.

The wadi held a typical species assemblage for this habitat. Nice numbers of common desert species - Blackstart, Arabian Green Bee-eater, Streaked Scrub-Warbler, Desert Lark etc. Due to eBird 48-hrs shutdown I cannot share my checklist.

Early on a majestic Golden Eagle flew past:

Then we enjoyed great activity of this habitat's specialty - Arabian Warbler. In Hebrew, and in German, it's called 'Acacia Warbler'. We had three birds, including a very vocal male already apparently holding territory. Such excellent birds. Certainly one of my best encounters with this species.

With a Palestinian friend

Even came down to the ground to feed on grubs, tossing leaves and acacia fruit up in the air like a Blackbird...

Other quality birds included quite many Spectacled Warblers (winter visitors here), and a Namaqua Dove.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Look south

Today I had a good day down south with Meidad. We started early at Hameishar Plains. It felt dry and rather quiet, but eventually our list there included Asian Desert Warbler, Temminck's and Bar-tailed Larks, Spotted and Crowned Sandgrouse, several Siberian Stonechat and this wonderful young female (dark eyes) Hen Harrier, cruising over the plains in soft golden light:

An early afternoon visit to Urim powerline produced five Sociable Lapwings one minute after I went offroad. They were sat in a field and were spooked when the irrigation started, circled in front of me and landed in a tomato (?) field nearby:

5 and 5

Then this stunning 2cy male Pallid Harrier flew by, leaving my jaw on the floor:

Still clutching the remains of its last meal

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Look east

It's that time of year we all wait for. In western Europe it starts in late September, and peaks in October. Here in Israel, it takes the vagrants from the east a little longer to filter down and make it over here. Numbers and diversity of eastern vagrants we get here compared to western Europe are much lower, so we need to make do with what little we get. On Sunday I got a little reward for working Tzor'a, searching in vain for an Oriental Turtle Dove that didn't show. Driving along a cut alfalfa field, oooh what this bird that flew up from the edge? Little Bunting! It showed briefly, then disappeared for a while, then showed again for half a minute, in front of a crown of five, before heading south high. In the next days, two birds were seen there, maybe this one and another, maybe two new birds. Lovely bird in any case.

On Tuesday, before a meeting in Kfar Ruppin conveniently scheduled for late morning, early morning was spent birding the bird-rich valley. Nothing special or new was found, but I enjoyed the huge amounts of big birds, spiced up with November regulars for Kfar Ruppin: Isabelline Shrike, Oriental Skylark and Richard's Pipit. Many Caspian Stonechat around - love 'em.

This morning a Pied Wheatear south of Be'er Sheva required my attention, a good looking 1cy female in a horrible water treatment plant, in horrible weather. Thanks to Eyal for finding and sharing info.