Monday, September 16, 2013

Israel: Day 8

Today was my best day yet in Israel, with 4 lifers (reflecting my shameful lack of European birding effort lately) and a great variety of species, both passing overhead and grounded migrants. We started of with a look at some ponds, which held a single Marbled Duck (lifer#1) amongst a heap of Little and Black-necked Grebes, and a Savi's Warbler (lifer#2) in a roadside ditch. As we dropped one of the team of at his watchpoint there was an Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (lifer#3) hopping around.

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear

My watch started well with a good stream of Lesser Spotted Eagles for the first hour, but this soon tailed off with the total on 321, the rest of the morning consisted of a steady Honey Buzzard (540) and Levant Sparrowhawk (605) passage. After a 'heads-up' from the Hula Valley, a flock of 600 Great White pelicans appeared over the ridge to the North, appearing to be nothing more than a distant shimmering cloud at first, but eventually coming close enough to admire. One bird (visible in the middle of the photo below was leucistic, raising brief hopes of something rarer) The highlight however was a stunning juvenile Steppe Eagle which passed over low enough for a record shot, and I finished with an adult male Red-footed Falcon high overhead.
Great White Pelicans

Steppe Eagle
After the watch we went for some more birding, this time around some freshly cut cereal fields. As we arrived, a quick scan revealed 3 Roller (lifer#4) sat on the deck, and occasionally flying to reveal their astonishing cobalt blue wings. While watching these, both Pallid and Montagu's Harrier patrolled the fields, sometimes coming really close. As we left, a young Lesser Grey Shrike perched up nicely close to the car.
Montagu's Harrier
Pallid Harrier
Lesser Grey Shrike

EDIT!!! While writing this outside my room, a Scops Owl (lifer#5) started calling in some nearby trees, we all rushed over and managed a brief view of it as it flew to the next clump of trees. What a day!

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