Saturday, March 16, 2024

Spring bliss

This morning was one of those mornings that demonstrate best (to me at least) why I am a birder and how rewarding being a birder can be. I visited Mt. Amasa, at the southern tip of the Judean Mts. This is one of my favourite birding sites in March - the habitat is beautiful, the landscape is stunning, and birding is magnificent. The open, rocky slopes, now covered with flowers, attract juicy migrants, and support healthy populations of quality breeding species. For me, a mid-March visit to Mt. Amasa is really one of the highlights of my birding year in Israel. I know the sites there very well, and I could predict almost precisely what and where I would see. It made no difference - it was a beautiful morning, albeit a bit short (family stuff...).

I met up early with Barak (in the photo above), Avi & Ron. At first we checked around the ruins of Tel Krayot, then descended to the adjacent Wadi Tov. It was a bit cold early on but soon the sweet warm sun lit up some beautiful birds for us. Check out this handsome 2cy male Woodchat Shrike, likely a migrant (not quite in breeding habitat), glowing in the soft early morning light:

There were really nice numbers of Cretzschmar's Buntings, several flocks moving through and quite many hopping on the rocks. They do breed here but despite some males bursting into their sweet 'Si-si-seee' song, I think they were mostly migrants.



Using the ruins and boulders as breeding sites, there were good numbers of Rock Sparrow, Blue Rock-Thrush and Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, all seen in advanced breeding activity. Wait for it and turn your volume up:

Down by the wadi there were more Sylvia warblers in the scattered bushes, including Rueppell's, Eastern Orphean and Eastern Subalpine. I have seen brighter subalps before - still a very neat bird.

There were many redstarts about - lots of wintering Western Blacks still here, one cracking male Eastern Black (likely semirufa), and several Commons, including three male Ehrenberg's. Barak talking in the background:

Twas also fun watching several Wrynecks rockhopping. Always fascinating birds.

There were many common migrants around. I enjoyed that immensely. A few scarcities weren't seen this morning (Cinereous Bunting, Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush) - next time hopefully. More images and videos in the eBird checklist here.

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