Yesterday was a long day. I have just two more days to improve my Big Year total, so the plan was grand. I met up with Rony and Yotam early. Climbing up to the Golan Heights, suddenly all the alarm signals in my car went off. One by one the vital systems switched off (steering, brakes) and I had to pull over. Eventually we waited on the road verge in the middle of nowhere (eBird checklist here) for four fu*&ing hours until I got a replacement car.
Eventually we got to Bashanit Ridge late. Our hopes to find the bunting flock there are chase after Avner's Pine Bunting from a few days ago were shattered. We saw nothing at all (eBird checklist here). While birding there news broke of an Alpine Accentor photographed the previous day on Mt. Arbel - brilliant photo by Lavi Lilo. After we finished wasting our time on Bashanit we headed over to Mt. Arbel. It took some time but eventually the Alpine Accentor showed. I was checking another section of the cliff when it was relocated, so by the time I arrived the bird moved a bit further away. I saw it well, feeding along the cliff face a-la-Wallcreeper. No photographic joy I'm afraid - all I got was this poor record shot:
402!— Yoav Perlman (@yoavperlman) December 28, 2021
Alpine Accentor, Arbel NR pic.twitter.com/svgpSfYaik
This was not only a sweet year bird for me, bringing my 2021 total to 402. It was also my first encounter with Alpine Accentor in Israel after 30 years. Back in the 1980's and early 1990's it was a regular winter visitor on Mt. Arbel. Since then it has become very rare, showing up irregularly every few years.
Mt. Arbel is a wonderful place to visit - scenery is spectacular and birding is great. I strongly recommend.
I end the year with a dilemma. I am running out of options for my Big Year (unless something big shows up today or tomorrow). In recent days, other birders added Nanday Parakeet to their list - there's a free-flying bird in southern Tel Aviv that's showing. This is not the way I wanted to end my Big Year. Currently, eBird tolerates exotics and escapes (next year a revision of eBird's exotics and escapes policy is expected). What to do? Go for it (or other exotics) and contaminate my yearlist, or end the year with class, Nanday-free? Advice welcome.