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>> Birding Reports

Northern Negev, 9-24/NOV/05
Ido Tsurim

During mid November I spent 7 days scanning the steppe and loess plateaus of the Central Northern Negev, between Fura Nature Reserve and Kibutz Revivim, with some detours to near by reservoirs and sewage ponds. The fields are being plowed now, so that the landscape is a mixture of mostly plowed and year-old empty fields with some green fields interspersed. Some leftovers of natural steppe can also be found here and there, especially in the southern parts of the area.

Passerine seed-eaters were unusually abundant, mainly Skylarks (tens of thousands) and Linnets (many hundreds). If the situation will persist further into the winter this may suggest a good predator year (especially for Harriers, Falcons and Sparrowhawks). Among the other passerine seed-eaters there were also a few Calandra Larks, Serins and Penduline Tits, hundreds of Spanish Sparrows, Corn Buntings, Goldfinches and Greenfinches, and nice numbers of Desert Finch (especially near Beer-Sheva). Among the many insectivorous species there were tens of Isabelline and a few Finsch's Wheatears, and some Tawny Pipits and Spectacled Warblers.

The list of raptors included Imperial Eagles (at least 8), many thousands of Black Kites (of which more than 4000 at the traditional roost near Gvulot), Marsh, Hen and Pallid Harriers, Long-legged and Common Buzzards, a few Sparrowhawks, Peregrines and Merlins and a juvenile Saker.

The Number of ducks in the reservoirs and sewage ponds are also unusually high for the area. Nothing special in this compartment, though it may be interesting to note that the ducks diversity was very low, with mostly Shovelers, Teals and Mallards, and very little else.

Wader and marsh birds' numbers continued to be relatively high for the area at this time of year (mostly in Beer Sheva sewage ponds). Of special note were good numbers of Dotterels (mostly between Hazerim and Ze'elim) accompanied by 6 Houbara Bustards and a few Golden Plovers, three Sociable Lapwings (Beit Kama, Revivim and east Beer-Sheva), a Jack Snipe (Beer Sheva sewage), a juvenile Purple Heron at Ofakim sewage and a few Spoonbills at Fura and Besor reservoirs.

The main target of the survey, Sandgrouses of course, was somewhat disappointing with only 800 Pin-tailed (Reim-Patish fields), 500 Spotted (Revivim area) and about 350 Black-bellied Sandgrouses (mostly Revivim area). It seems that the huge flock of 3000 Pin-taileds that was observed by Rony Livne about a month and a half ago has scattered over the fields, possibly further west.

All in all the area is packed with birds, and I am already looking forward for my next session there.

Rony Livne and Yiftah Magen also participated in some of the observations.

Houbara Bustard Sociable Plover Dotterel Dotterels Jack Snipe

(Luscinia svecica) Samar, Oct.05

(Saxicola torquata) Negev, Oct.05

(Phoenicopterus ruber) Eilat, Jun.04
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