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>> Birding Reports

Southern Arava, 9-11/MAR/06
Tomer Landsberger

March 9th:
On our way to the Arava, Rony Livne, Barak Granit and I made a short stopover at Mitzpe Ramon Isrotel inn, to have a look at the previously reported Hume’s Warbler. The bird was easily located and was active and calling frequently.
Hoping to shed some light over it’s contreversial identification, we decided to seek for another browed Warbler, the one found earlier in February at Neot Smadar’s date plantation. Although not as drab looking as the one from Mitzpe, it’s calls were still of Hume’s for our money…

We continued to Km 77, where the seasonal rains created an oasis which held a variety of Lark species and even a Menetries’s Warbler in recent springs.
Scanning the northern side of the road we saw 1 Bar-tailed Lark, 1 Cyprus Warbler and had a fly-over Bimaculated Lark with some Short-toed Larks. We also saw 1 out-of-range Hooded Crow.

A peek at Ketura’s sewage pools provided views of another Bimaculated Lark, a Temminck’s Stint and some Little Ringed Plovers.
After lunch at Yotvata, we had a walk at Ye’elim holiday village, where we logged our third browed Warbler – a Yellow-browed. Also there was the long staying phoenicuroides Black Redstart, now in its summer plumage.
In the acacias bordering the deserted swimming pool, we saw some nice Sylvias – Cyprus, Ruppell’s and Orphean.

At the sewage factory there was nothing noteworthy, so we went to the circular field. Walking in the low grass, we flushed 4-5 Oriental Skylarks, 1 Bimaculated Lark, several Short-toed Larks and a single Richard’s Pipit. In addition, one Indian House Crow, rarely seen north to Eilat, passed over the fields southwards.

At afternoon, we drove to Eilat area. At Km 20 saltpans, numbers of Waders were still quite poor, as accepted in early March. At the north beach, apart from the local White-eyed Gulls - 3 Pallas’s Gulls, a Caspian Tern and 2 Sandwich Terns were noted.

The last stop for the day was in the scrub area just west of Eilat’s ringing station, were a pair of Barbary Falcons were displaying at last light.

March 10th:
We opened the day with a stroll in the bushes west of Km 20 saltpans. In a relatively confined area, we had 3 male Subalpine Warblers, a scarce spring migrant, up to 4 Ruppell’s Warblers, 1 Cyprus Warbler, Common Whitethroats and numerous Lesser Whitethroats. A Woodchat Shrike, an Olivaceous Warbler and a Namaqua Dove were seen as well.

At IBRC Eilat we saw 2 Panduline Tits and a nice variety of Hirundines – all 6 species, plus Pallid and Common Swifts. Overhead migration included a Short-toed Eagle, a Booted Eagle and Steppe Buzzards. In the canal surrounding the park there was a Citrine Wagtail and a White-tailed Lapwing, which has been around for two weeks.

Late morning was spent at the date plantations of Samar and Eliphaz. The young southern-most plantation was were we found our fourth male Subalpine Warbler. The place was teeming with birds, mainly Chiffchaffs, but also many Silverbills, samamisicus Redstarts, 3 Namaqua Doves, some Cretzschmar’s Buntings and a Tree Pipits.
During a noon-time drive through Yotvata’s agricultural fields, we saw good numbers of Black-eared, Isabelline and Northern Wheatears.

At afternoon, we headed south again. Reaching the saltpans we found some newly arrived birds – a flock of Gargeny, Slender-billed Gulls and 4 Greater Sandplovers. Later at the north beach we saw the same birds from yesterday.

At twilight, we drove to Km 19 sewage pools and watched 13 Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouses coming in to drink.

March 11th:
The first few hours of the day were unpleasantly cold and windy. We searched the fields and hay stacks around Grofit and Ketura for Bimaculated Larks. We found a single bird feeding with Short-toed Larks and Desert Finches in an open field, far from ideal for photography...

Joined by Lior Kislev, we returned to the green patch in Km 77, were we added to our trip list a Spectacled and an Asian Desert Warbler, Desert Wheatear and 8 Spotted Sandgrouse.

At Neot Smadar’s fields and peach orchards we saw nothing special - many Common Whitethroats, 2 Woodchat Shrikes, Tawny Pipits, a Ruppel’s Warbler and etc… The pool hosted a good number of Reed Warblers along with some Sedge and Savi’s Warblers.

On our way back north, at the entrance to wadi Tzihor, we met Jonathan who informed us of a male Thick-billed Lark he had seen earlier at the Meyshar. We searched the area thoroughly but the elusive Lark was a no show...

Greater Sand Plover White-tailed Lapwing Greater Short-toed Lark 'Phoenicuroides' Black Redstart Black-eared Wheatear Ruppell's warbler Subalpine Warbler Common Whitethroat Hume's Leaf Warbler

Common Cuckoo
(Cuculus canorus) Kibbutz Samar, Apr.07

Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse
(Pterocles lichtensteinii) Eilat area, May.05

Painted Snipe
(Rostratula benghalensis) Hefer valley, Sep.05
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