Birding southern Israel – Early April 2007 Observations.

Pallid Harrier image courtesy of Klaus M. Olsen; all other images copyright Jonathan Meyrav.

Pallid HarrierPallid Harrier
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Spring is in full swing, the first large wave of migrants has passed and new birds are pouring in. The first few days of April were quiet birdwise with no major rarities found but some good birds are seen daily. The British ringing team staying on Lotan put in a lot of effort and have now ringed over 1500(!!) birds in 12 days of ringing. The areas covered are small and the number of birds ringed and variety of species is overwhelming. A full ringing report will be posted here in the near future. Worth mentioning is a first summer male Menetrie's Warbler that was ringed in the organic garden on April 1st. 4 different Eurasian Scops Owls were ringed at Lotan during the first few days of April and on the morning of the 3rd, at least 5 different birds could be found day roosting in the tall trees around the garden.  

Here is a summary of the significant sightings in the Eilat area from the past couple of weeks. The long staying Dunn's Lark at K76 was joined by another on March 30th and at least 1 was still around till April 2nd. Several small groups of Thick-billed Larks were also reported from the same area and 4 were still seen near k76 on April 3rd.

Citrine WagtailCitrine Wagtail
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The Yotvata fields are still very productive and although most Short-toed Larks have moved on, small numbers remain and 2 Bimaculated Larks were seen till April 5th. The long staying second cal. male Pallid Harrier was joined by a spectacular adult male on the 6th. At least 1 Pale Rock Sparrow is still around as well and during the first week of April a superb male Rock Thrush also entertained birders. The night life around Yotvata is also very good with at least one Egyptian Nightjar still present till April 4th. The now regular Pharoah's Eagle Owl also showed well and 2 birds were seen on the April 7th.

Waders at K20 are slowly rising in numbers and good numbers of Marsh Sandpiper, Greenshank, and Kentish Plovers are seen daily. A group of 6 Greater Sandplovers were seen till april 7th. Up to 25 Collared Pratincoles, 4 Citrine Wagtails and small flocks of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters are seen daily amongst the more numerous Common Bee-eaters. 

An adult Demoiselle Crane was seen flying low over Eilat's birdwatching park on the morning of April 5th. The bird was seen flying north but could not be relocated afterwards.

Daurian Shrike Daurian Shrike
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Early on the 7th of April it was evident that a sandstorm was on its way and indeed by 10:00 the winds were howling and sand was everywhere. I decided to head back towards the kibbutz but through a rarely traveled road between the sand dunes along the Jordanian border. This proved to be a wise decision as right when we neared the border road a brightly marked Greater Hoopoe Lark ran across the dunes and took to the air twice in its remarkable display rolls… I was very pleased and although the bird was only seen for a few minutes and disappeared, it looks promising. The area in question historically hosted breeding Hoopoe Larks and this male looked very territorial and local. As we left the bird and drove 400 meters further I spotted a small Shrike sheltering from the wind in a bush by the track. This turned out to be a bright male Daurian Shrike and we all got good views of the bird, pictures and a short video. As they are more common in fall "Isabelline" type Shrikes are rarely sub specifically identified but this bright bird posed no real difficulties.

Daurian Shrike Daurian Shrike
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The Sandstorm picked up as the day advanced and when we came back in the afternoon the Shrike was still around but the Hoopoe Lark was not and the weather was ridiculous with 50 Kmh winds and sand everywhere…

That morning an adult male Semi-collared Flycatcher was seen at Lotan. Only small numbers of Ficedula Flycatchers were reported to date but singles of all 3 Black and white species were reported throughout the first week of April.

We also had our first single Honey Buzzards and Levant Sparrowhawks on April 6th.

Several Belgian birders reported a Caspian Plover from the Yotvata area, but the bird was only seen briefly and at night. Noam Weiss saw the bird at night as well on the April 7th.

** On a belated note –
On the morning of the 11th Marcus Craig finally reported 2 male Caspian Plovers from the Yotvata circular fields' area.
Stay posted as the spring advances.
Jonathan Meyrav and the birdingisrael team.  

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Daphna Abell
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