Over the last few weeksI’vebeen overloaded with guiding, monitoring, managing and in between being a father to my two sons who are enjoying a Passover vacation and a husband to my lovely wife who supports me throughout. This has led to lack of writing time for the blog…YesterdayIreceived a complaining mail from Shacahr Shalev, a local Eilat birder who wasborn in Christchurch New Zealand, eighth child of 13! He moved to Israel on his own some 20 years ago and became Israeli since. in the last 15 years he resides in Eilat, work in Plastics factory in Grofit. His love for birds has never found its place while here in Eilat, but last year we met and since than, he has joined our team and he is working hard to better his identification and photography skills. Below is the first post by Shachar (with comments and additions from me), hope more will follow soon…
“The weather is warming rapidly while the number of birders is declining rapidly. All agree that it has been hard work finding birds this spring but almost all have been very happy with the wonderful variety of species available in this very special area of the world. Some are already planning their return next spring. In a trip to the Ovda valley we found the generally barren landscape overgrown with huge thorn bushes and sprawling green areas all due to the winter rains. The local wolves, jackals, foxes, rabbits along with some locusts visiting from Egypt were all enjoying the new-found abundance. Apart from the Quail regularly flying out from under your feet, we still found good numbers of Asian Desert,Spectacled &Scrub Warblers building nests, Tawny Pipits and the usual variety of Wheatears, a treat for any visiting birder.
KM 76 issimilarlygreen and huge flocks of Short-toed Larks were enjoying the conditions along with the Hill Sparrows, Cretzschmar’s,OrtolanBuntings (ISH -a single Cinereous Buntingwas also present last week at K76)as well as an array of Pipits. Some Harriers and Kestrels were enjoying the flood of locusts which provide a easy and very nutritious meal!
A variety of warblers, EasternOrphean, Whitethroats, Ruppell’s and ever-present Lesser Whitethroats rounded off the morning (ISH – 2 male Menetrie’s Warbler of 2 different subspecies were also present last week at K20 found by Bark Granit et al and the first Rufous Bush Chatsare also present).
Kibbutz Lotan appeared to be bird-free, but we have sincereceiveda report of an Olive-tree Warbler inside the Kibbutz.Similarlya Turkestan Shrike has been viewed in the north-east fields of Yotvata. Passing through the salt ponds at KM 20 we saw a family of Red-necked Phalarope cruising and snoozing, but always close together. With them were a group of about 50 Glossy Ibis on an overnight stop, black-tailed Godwits, Greenshanks with other Sandpipers of all varieties and a constant stream of Steppe Buzzards, Black Kites and Birders watching them carefully (ISH – as well as the first Collared Pratincolesand a 2nd Caspian Plover today).
The canal between KM 20 and KM 19 is still full of water from the winter rains and has become a favoured spot for birders and birds alike. Here we found the Little Crake, one more White-tailed Plover, Purple Herons and a wide array of warblers including a Great Reed Warbler busy chasing the smaller birds off his territory. The local Black Bush Robin put on a photo session for us sitting on the border fence quietly for all to enjoy. Unfortunately a pair of British photographers came bundling down the track in their car and scared him off. It turned out they had been waiting 4 days to get a picture of the bird! Not a pleasant feeling…
In the Eilat mountains large groups of eager birders have been watching the Steppe Buzzardand various Eagle migration with some days seeing tens of thousands of birds passing over. For birders anywhere in the world this is a must see, so make sure you put us in next years plans!
Lastly we have the parks in Eilat where we are seeing only small numbers of birds but it is always pleasant and surprising to walk out your front door and meet a Semi-collared Flycatcher (finally some flycatchers have arrived! ISH- another Semi-collared was found in my garden in the house) or a Nightingale!
The End( that was Fun!)
Itai Shanni is the coordinator of the Eilat Birding Blog, which is jointly written by the Israeli Ornithological Centre (IOC) and the International Birding and Research Centre Eilat (IBRCE). Itai is working to promote bird and wildlife conservation throughout this area. As an Israeli A licensed ringer, he also gives support for the IBRCE staff when needed. Itai has also developed a real passion for Odonata watching and spends many hot hours chasing also Dragonflies and Damselflies.
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