Saturday, October 05, 2013

Israel: Day 25

As we reach the end of the count, the number of raptors passing over daily has dropped drastically, which has made the time spent out at the watchpoints a little tedious at times, but has had the bonus of allowing us to squeeze in some 'normal' birding.
Yesterday, after our days count we headed up into the Gilboa Mountains, just to the the South-east of our Kibbutz at Geva. Our target here was Long-billed Pipit, and we eventually bumped into 5 after scouring the rocky hillsides. A bonus bird here was a stonking male Finsch's Wheatear, an unexpected lifer as they are not supposed to arrive to winter in this area until much later in the season. A small group of Mountain Gazelle were also nice.

Black-eared Wheatear

Finsch's Wheatear

Mountain Gazelle

Black Francolin

This evening we returned to the Bet Shean Valley, where we finally scored with Dead Sea Sparrow and Namaqua Dove, thanks to some recent gen. We had just seen the Dead Sea Sparrows, perching on the Jordanian border fence at Gesher, and we looking for Namaquas at the prime site when an Army truck appeared out of no-where. Apparently they weren't overly impressed with us pointing bins and cameras at the border security and we were unceremoniously moved on. This was a bit of a setback as returning to the spot at a later date would have been unwise, so we set about trying to find similar habitat away from the border. Fortunately, as we were passing through some very un-promising looking fishpond, a pair of Namaqua's flew across the track and fed close to the car, giving us great views.

Dead Sea Sparrow male

Dead Sea Sparrow female
Namaqua Dove

Masked Shrike juvenile
And for the sake of completeness, a few raptors:

Long-legged Buzzards, a resident pair at Afula

Short-toed Eagle, almost outnumbering LSE's in recent days

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