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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.
A peek at Ketura’s sewage pools provided views of another Bimaculated Lark, a Temminck’s Stint and some Little Ringed Plovers.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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