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>> Birding Reports

Southern Israel, 12-15/OCT/05
Barak Granit

As in every other year, some of the annual raptor migration survey team, went down south for a traditional birding trip to the Negev desert just after the survey has ended.
Steve Mann, Jonathan Meyrav, Tomer Landsberger, Tuvia Kahn and myself headed south on October the 12, making our first stop at northern Dead Sea were we had 4 Namaqua Doves. Later on we stoped at En Gedi and saw typical desert oasis birds such as Blackstarts, Tristram's Starlings, Little Green Bea-Eaters, Mourning and White-crowned Black Wheatears and 3 species of ravens (European, Brown-necked and Fan-tailed).
We continued our way south and stopped to have a short look on a sweet water pool at the south of the Dead Sea. Apart from migrating common species of ducks and waders we saw 5 Ferruginous Ducks and a male Hooded Wheatear. Then we went to a Sooty Falcon territory not far from the southern end of the Dead Sea. 4 fresh juveniles and 2 adults gave a life time show. The juveniles flew around us for a long hour and the parents attacked an intruding Brown-necked Raven.
The next day we spent at the southern Arava and Eilat. We started at Yotvata in the early morning, and had 3 Richard's Pipits and 3 Desert Wheatears in the famous circular field, as well as some tens of Red-throated Pipits and Short-toed Larks. All in all the arava was quite empty with birds. Some Red-backed and Masked Shrikes, Redstarts and other passerines could be seen here and there. However, the famous K.20 saltpans were packed with waders and water birds including 730 Greater Flamingos, 1500 Little Stints, Broed-billed Sandpiper, 5 Caspian Terns, as well as 4 Desert Wheatears. At the parking place of Eilat Birdwatching center we found a 1st Winter Daurian Shrike - an uncommon to rare autumn migrant. Finally we ended the day at Eilat's North Beach. A Citrine Wagtail flew from the near-by canal. The beach and the sea didn't produce any unusual birds. 80 White-eyed Gulls (a large number), few Caspian Terns as well as Sandwich and Gull-billed Terns and a flock of 23 Whiskered Terns were the only birds around.
After spanding the night at Mizpe Ramon field School we open the 13th of October at a small tamarisk grove north to the town. The place was packed with birds mainly Willow Warblers, Redstarts, Spotted Flycatchers, Wagtails, and some Red-backe Shrikes but very quickly turned to be more interesting. Two 1st winter Red-breasted Flycatcher gave a splendid views from very close distances. 7 Black-bellied Sandgrouses flew above us. Under the trees we spotted a very elusive and beautiful Bailon's Crake just next to two Water Rails. Arabian Babblers and a Spectacled Warbler were seen as well. Later on that day we continued north to Sde Boker. In the gardens we had another Red-breasted Flycatcher and on the cliffs under the school we had a Blue Rock Thrush. Some Griffon vultures were soaring in the air together with a late Egyptian Vulture. At night we searched for Humes Owl in a remote wady in the southern Negev. Although no lack in finding a perched bird while we drove a way a pale owl crossed the track just in front of us. Although no clear identification could be made in those conditions the only owl which fits what we saw is indeed A Hume's Owl...
The last day we spent at Nizana. We had only one distant Houbara Bustard but we had 4 species of sandgrouses in their drinking place including 33 Crowned, 500 Black-bellied, 120 Spotted and 3 Pin-tailed. The surprise of the day was a White-tailed Lapwing in the water pool, and a Bimaculated Lark.
Finally we finished our trip at Urim in the north-western Negev. It was a bit too early for the wintering raptors but we had a lovely group of Red footed Falcons and 4 Peregrines.

Sooty Falcon Sooty Falcon Sooty Falcon Red-footed Falcon Montagu's Harrier White-tailed Lapwing White-tailed Lapwing Black-bellied Sandgrouse Crowned Sandgrouse Crowned Sandgrouse Little Green Bee-eater Richard's Pipit Hooded Wheatear Redstart Spotted FlycatcherRed-breasted Flycatcher Red-breasted Flycatcher Red-backed Shrike Daurian Shrike Fan-tailed Raven

Common Kestrel
(Falco tinnunculus) Hula valley, Feb.05

Red Phalarope
(Phalaropus fulicarius) Eilat, Oct.05

Red-breasted Flycatcher
(Ficedula parva) Mitzpe Ramon, Oct.05
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