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>> Birding Reports

Southern Israel, 20-21/Oct/06


Avner Cohen

On the 20th of October I started the day birding at the Sde-Boker area. At the loan of Ben Gurion's grave I had a slow morning, with tens of Common Redstarts, Spotted Flycatchers and the other resident birds. Later, I went up to a spot overlooking En Ovdat gorge, where I saw two adult Lanner Falcons.

The Alfalfa fields between the Sde-boker college and the Kibbutz attracted many migrants, though it was very difficult to scan through the high vegetation. I was pleasantly surprised to see the two adult Lanners resting in the middle of the field; I had great views of the perching birds for 10 minutes after which they took off in search of pray.

I continued on my way south to Mitzpe Ramon, where I met with Markus Craig, and together we drove to Bahad 1 sewage. The place was alive with birds - Red-backed Shrikes, Masked Shrike, Willow Warblers, White Wagtails, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Redstarts, 2 sedentary Red-breasted Flycatchers and many other common migrants. The birds are very tame in this area and it was great to see those little Flycatchers hunting in the tamarisk grove.

I proceeded to Ramon crater cliff in search of Ravens. Raven numbers have rapidly declined in the past few decades in Israel and there aren't many accessible localities to watch these birds nowadays. As soon as I reached the cliff I located the Ravens resting on a telephone pole, and watched them for several minutes souring in the sky, mobbing a Barbary falcon that passed by and resting on the Cliff's edge.

I than met again with Markus and we went to Mitzpe Ramon sewage, where we saw yet another Red-Breasted Flycatcher.

On the early morning of the 21st, I met with Darren Burns and we headed to the Arava Valley. Our first stop was at the Neot Smadar's western plantation, where we saw a Barbary Falcon, Common Redstarts, Red-backed Shrikes, Northern and Black-eared Wheatears and many other migrants.

We moved on to the Yotvata's circular field where we saw a Siberian Stonechat, a Whinchat and some Indian Silverbills. At a small green patch in the middle of the field I estimated about 1,000 Red-throated Pipits. Among them we located 2 Richard's Pipits. One of them flew into the high vegetation giving it's unique sparrow like call, After several minutes it slowly came out to the open and we enjoyed good views of this uncommon Pipit.

Our next stop was at Eilat's ringing station, we arrived 15 minutes after a Red-breasted Flycatcher and a probable Willow warbler of the ssp yakutensis were trapped.
This Willow Warbler was very interesting to examine in the hand, a large bird with very dark gray upper parts and prominent eyebrow.

We started our way back north as we were hoping to watch Sooty Falcons at a site just south of the Dead-Sea. Reaching the place we had fantastic views of 3 juvenile birds resting on the cliff and flying above our heads. A fantastic ending to our trip!

Sooty Falcon Lanner Falcon Lanner Falcon Richards Pipit Red-breasted Flycatcher Red-breasted Flycatcher Red-backed Shrike Common Raven Indian Silverbill Siberian stonechat

Brown Booby
(Sula leucogaster) Eilat, Mar.06

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
(Merops persicus)Arava valley, Apr.05

Cattle Egret
(Bubulucus ibis) Neot Semadar, Mar.05
 
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