Weekly English Update: It’s been another crazy and unpredictable week of migration in the deep south of Israel. The Passover holiday brought with it southerly winds, heavy cloud and then heavy downpours on Thursday around Yotvata, Ovda and middle Arava. Passerine numbers dropped throughout the week and then poured in again after the storm. Raptor migration was predictably slow but will rise sharply as the Honey Buzzards and Levant Sparrowhawks start pouring in. Waders came through in really good numbers along with Herons, Crakes and Bee-eaters. North Beach has many terns coming in and we’ll be able to see them once the holidaymakers who are covering the beach leave on Tuesday. I managed to fight my way into a tiny corner of the beach on the stormy evening when the strong winds blew some of the tents away. It was really good for birds with a Sooty Shearwater flying over our heads and checking out the Ice Mall shopping centre before returning to the sea. Lots of Little terns, Common Terns, Sandwich Terns and 3 White-cheeked Terns doing group aerobatics. An Oriental Honey Buzzard struggled it’s way across the gulf amongst the terns, migrants were coming in low across the water, 2 Pomerine and a Parasitic Skua headed north overland and 3 Black-winged Pratincoles did circles above us before heading in to the ponds. Lake Anita at the Eilat Bird Sanctuary was just wonderful all week. One afternoon I sat there for over an hour just enjoying the 17 species of waders wandering around just a couple of metres away, Little Crakes, a Baillon’s Crake and Rail stalking the edges, Reed,Sedge and Great Reed Warblers bouncing round the reeds, all kinds of Herons, Terns and Kingfishers fishing, Swallows’Martins and Swifts picking off the insects, Wagtails doing the same and a Booted Eagle and 4 Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters came in to drink. Ringing picked up over the weekend with 215 ringed yesterday and 160 today. The pick of the haul were a latish male Subalpine Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat with a Swedish ring, a Wood Warbler, a Little Bittern, a Namaqua Dove and plenty of regular migrants. The ponds have seen big numbers of Collared Pratincoles and a really nice array of birds coming to rest each evening. Yotvata is very pleasant with over 40 Lesser Kestrels chasing bugs on the ground in the North Circular field, Common and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters constantly moving over, the full range of Yellow Wagtails, White Storks, Warblers, Pipits and Short-toed Larks and Namaqua Doves all present. Next week is going to be even crazier…..see you in the field!
By Shachar Shalev