Sunday, January 31, 2021

The beauty and the beast

This morning I worked at Ma'agan Michael. The weather was rougher than I had expected, seawatching weather in fact. Yet it was a productive morning (see eBird checklist here). The strong winds must have blown some gulls inland, as there were many many gulls in the fishponds. 

Armenian Gull

One pond had six Little Gulls fluttering over the water a-la-marsh terns, three adults and three young, presumably picking up water invertebrates from the surface. They are such lovely birds, so delicate and pretty. Their upperwing and underwing patterns are perfect. Adults and young. And they're sort of scarce in Israel. Sadly, the pond was covered by anti-pelican cables. I sat low, under the cables, but in some photos the cables are inevitable.

Pallas's Gulls were present in decent numbers. They are such beasts. The adults are already in (almost) full summer plumage with their black hood.

These two are from Atlit, where the Hypocolius is still present, but wouldn't pose in the crazy wind:

Speaking of seawatching, yesterday morning I spent some time in Ashdod doing just that. Not too many birds but a Black-legged Kittiwake made the effort worth while. A flock of Slender-billed Gulls contained a ringed bird, by Yosef, Atlit April 2019, c. 100 km north.

Just because it's a nice photo

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Northern clean-up

While spending a few days up in the north, I had time for some birding, including a clean sweep of northern rarities, now safely nestled in my 2021 yearlist. 

Israel's first Wilson's Phal that nearly gave me a heart attack when it was found, is spending the winter in tranquility in the Bet She'an Valley. Now relocated to Kfar Ruppin fishponds, it chose a wonderful pond full of birds.

Avocets with Jordanian backdrop

Nice flock of 19 White-winged Terns in summer plumage

Floating solar panels installed on nearby large reservoirs, functioning as comfy perches for birds

Up on the cold and windy Golan Heights, the Lesser White-fronted Goose is still around

Pure gold

Long-billed Pipit in Susita

Two Fire-fronted Serins still on Mt. Bental, with Euro Serins

Tons of storks, kites and starlings at Tovlan landfill site in the Jordan Valley:

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Arabian (Dunn's) Lark

Earlier this month I went with Jonathan down to the Arava for some necessary desert bliss (and fieldwork). 

Contra last winter, this winter the desert is extremely dry. As a result, bird densities are quite low. However, carry-over effect of last spring's breeding boom is present. Thick-billed and Arabian (Dunn's) Larks are around. Where we checked there were six Arabian Larks - time has come to accept the split. I have seen many before, and photographed them quite well. The encounter we had with an individual who just stayed put was something else. We crept up to it down to minimal focusing distance. 

Other birds included Hoopoe, Temminck's and Bar-tailed Larks, and Asian Desert Warblers. 

Desert Bath White

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Hit the ground running

How can one complete a Big Year and let go? Lean back? Impossible. New year, new targets (who said 400?). The main lesson learned from 2020's bittersweet performance was to start strong. Not to leave stuff for the final month. Will I (and Jonathan) be able to keep up with the speed? Personally, I am quite knackered, and my work load is huge these coming weeks. But there is no choice, only to push on.

So it's January 5th, lots of good birds around, good weather. Up till now I have done only one quality birding session, on Sunday in Kfar Ruppin. Before and after a meeting (how convenient) there was time for good birding, picking up 'important' and cool species such as Isabelline Shrike (two, here), 6 Oriental Skylark and 7 Siberian buff-bellied Pipit (here) and a nearby Red-crested Pochard (here).

As always, birding in Bet She'an Valley is a blast, with So. Many. Birds. everywhere (how many times can I use NJAudubon's trademark?).

Oriental Skylark

A beast of a young Bonelli's Eagle

Watch this space for more stuff!