Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The final lap

This strange year is coming to an end soon, which is shaping my birding mode. I continue birding to the max, trying to maintain my birding streak and expand my year list as much as I can, within reason. I am not doing a Big Year per se - quit job, divorce, drop everything and run type, but I am doing my best, holding hands with Jonathan. In 2019 I ended up with 370, so my target to improve this annual total was reached already a few weeks ago, now I'm on 382... At this point, additions obviously include only good stuff, including Goldcrest, Buff-bellied Pipit, Saker. 

This super-early morning I drove down to Eilat with Jonathan and Yotam. Our main target was the American Golden Plover found by Shachar Shalev a few days ago, the third for Israel. I have seen it in Israel before, the first one, back in 2008. Yet, it's a mega bird here, and we needed it for our year list... Eilat is defined as a 'Green COVID Island', meaning that only those showing relevant COVID tests can enter the city. We had not managed to get tested prior the trip down south, so we used an instant testing depot at Yotvata, thankfully all three of us came out negative...

We arrived to North Beach at first light. While Jonathan was faffing around with his gear in the car, Yotam and I walked down to the beach, and quickly found the Brown Booby perched on a distant border buoy - an appropriate support cast. I called Jonathan over, got my digiscoping kit ready for a quick video, when the bloody booby decided to take off and disappeared into the early morning haze far in the east. Poor Jonathan. 

However, our main target performed better. We found the AGP quickly, within a large group of smaller plovers. A bit distant for proper photography, but very good conditions for scope views and videos, in beautiful, crisp early morning light. Lovely bird, very distinctive with that huge supercilium, long wings and gray tones.

A walk around the IBRCE was fairly quiet, quite typically for this time of year, yet there were some nice birds (eBird checklist here), including this funky Western Reef Egret:

After a celebratory coffee with IBRCE staff we continued to KM20, very quiet there, only this Hooded Wheatear brightened up the scene slightly, despite looking away:

We had a few other birding plans but the weather deteriorated, wind picked up dust and birding was not pleasant. En route home we stopped for 30 seconds at Yelek Cistern, rosefinches and stuff. Casual

Thanks Jonathan, Yotam and Bamba for sharing this long day. 

Two weeks to go - will I add any more birds? Fingers crossed.

Good night.

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