Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Israel: Day 15

Today was all about Red-footed Falcons. Yesterday gave a hint of things to come when I had 14 at my station, a respectable count here, and 3 perched in a tree when I arrived at my station this morning was a nice start. Over the next few hours I clocked 230 heading high South, mostly in groups of 4-6, but with one magic flock of 47. I was over the moon with this, Red-foots are a bird i've really not seen much of since my first at Pig Nose Valley, Prawle in 199(6?), so it was great to study them properly finally, but I couldn't help but feel a little deflated when I heard that the station at Afula had had a flock of 3000, a truly astonishing count. Inbetween the RFF's, I had my best Lesser Spotted Eagle day of the count, with 820, most of them in a 15 minute period(!), but Honey Buzzards and Levants were down big time. Bee-eaters were passing in numbers all day, and hawking close around me at one point.

Lesser Grey Shrike

A monumental cloudburst in the early afternoon caused a brief break from counting, and had the effect of forcing down some of the passing raptors, including the Red-foots, giving some much closer views.

2 cy Red-footed Falcon, awesome mix of juvenile and adult feathers in the wing.

Adult male Red-footed Falcon
On return to the Kibbutz, we were amazed to see around 100 Red-foots swooping low over our apartment, clearly looking for somewhere to roost. It was really dark by then, so my photos are all pants, but it was a phenomenal sight.

Adult female Red-footed Falcon

Roosting Red-footed Falcons

As we were watching the Red-foots, a Levant Sparrowhawk flew in to a nearby tree for a few minutes, again, far too dark for nice photos, but a great chance to study up-close a bird that we normally see c1km up.
Juvenile Levant Sparrowhawk

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