Monday, June 26, 2023

Eilat quicky

Yesterday I had a couple of important meetings in Eilat, leaving me with just enough time for birding after dawn and on the way back home. My main interest was in seawatching off north beach. Very early there was really nice activity at sea. Interestingly by 06:30 the sea became totally empty, and it felt OK to leave for the meetings - it was unlikely I would miss anything (who knows? Maybe my nemesis-bird, Crab Plover, flew by five minutes after my departure?). There were lots of terns at sea, including a 2cy Arctic Tern that has been around for a few days, three Bridled Terns and several White-cheeked Terns. Typical summer mix. Good scope views of the arctic, that spent most of its time behind the pier in Aqaba. I have seen many Arctic Terns in Israel but still don't have a photo of one. 

White-cheeked Tern - adult

White-cheeked Tern - young bird (I am not sure whether they breed according to northern hemisphere calendars)

White-eyed Gull - one of Eilat's signature birds - quite a few flew around and two young birds perched briefly on some rocks, that are exposed at low tide.

Squacco Heron - common but always attractive, especially when coming in-off:

eBird checklist here.

On the way back home I stopped briefly in a nice Arava wadi, still (relatively) lush and green after the late-spring climate-change rain storms. The rain was very welcome by desert breeders. During the short time I was there, I saw several families of Bar-tailed and Temminck's Larks, flying around with their young. Great to witness that Thick-billed Lark bred again in Israel, successfully, perhaps not in high density but what a treat. I speculate that Thick-billed lark is one of the few species that benefit from Climate Change. In our region, climate change is expressed in more extreme weather. In Israel's desert regions, this translates into extreme storms developing in higher frequency and with higher energy. Once-every-50-years weather events happen almost every winter now. Nomadic larks like Thick-billed Lark utilise the high productivity patches created by these often very local downpours. In practice, since the first breeding was discovered by Barak Granit in 1999, this species has become regular, almost sedentary, and much more common, present almost year-round in the southern Negev and Arava in small numbers, and breeding almost every year. Exceptional breeding events occur when the winter storms arrive at the perfect timing and location, like in 2010.

Dad feeding young

Baby Thick-billed Lark

Daddy is off to collect more food for its baby

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