Saturday, 13 December 2014


Very pleased to have finally caught up with this thrush in Israel. Four of them, on my home turf too!

Yesterday I visited Re'im Reservoir - the Greater Whitefronted Goose from last week is still around.

Quite a few raptors too - Merlin, Kestrel, Buzzard, Hen and Marsh Harriers, Black Kites galore. And a Greater Spotted Eagle trying to find a thermal. The weather was cool and blustery with low cloud - not conducive for good photos.

Also caught up with a Hume's Warbler found by Eran Banker last week at Kibbutz Gevulot. Good views were had but no photos - it kept high in the trees and was too mobile. No matter - a great bird to see.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit

Nafcha is a superb birding spot - a green and watery oasis in the middle of the Negev and as such, attracts a lot of birds. In the last few days Ring Ouzel, Hume's Warbler and Buff-bellied Pipit have been seen there. I went this afternoon to try and catch up with any/all of them. The pipit was very easy but the weather was not - strong winds, clouds and spots of rain, hence the poor quality pics.

Bat-pipit. . .

A full shot that I hope shows the 'jizz' of the bird, plus a few details - pert stand and rather cute expression, eye-ring, wing bars, pink-red legs, streaked breast on white and dark upperparts etc.

Didn't manage the Ring Ouzel or Hume's Warbler (fleeting views but nothing confirmatory) but I'm not unhappy - the pipit is a new one for me.

Managed to see a Siskin in Ben Gurion's Grave Park yesterday - a good year for them and the first one I've seen since leaving Scotland, 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Long-eared Owls

Not exactly a garden tick as I hear/see them most days but this is the first time that the owls, the light and I have coincided with a camera. Three of them in total,

this is the one at the lower right-centre of the above photo,

and this one is in the top left,

and this is in the top right (really, not easy to see but thanks Aviv!).

Back to the most photogenic of the three, having a preen.

Still many Hawfinches around - this morning there was a flock of ten in the kibbutz with at least four others outside. 

Lots of potential here for the influx of northern finches and thrushes that we're currently enjoying. Keeping my eyes and ears open . . . . 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Eastern Imperial Eagle

The neighbour EI Eagle finally posed for a photo-op this morning.

 What a great bird!

An unusual pairing: Desert Finch and Linnet - north and south meet at Sde Boker.

On the way home this evening I stopped for this Southern Grey Shrike singing.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Caspian Stonechat (update)

Adding some photos of one Darren and I ringed at Sde Boker a couple of days ago. Good clear id features.

Caspian Stonechat (Saxicola maura variegata). Found this bird on one of the Urim fields this morning. To me it looks good for 1st winter male Caspian Stonechat. Happy to hear other views.

Other good stuff at Urim: three Calandra larks (fly-by) two Eastern Imperial Eagles, one Peregrine, one Marsh and three Hen Harriers. Loads of Skylarks, Red-throated Pipits, Corn Buntings, Bluethroats etc.

A small passage of Booted Eagles along Nahal Besor. Nice!

Even nicer (for me) was a local mega - a Dunnock ringed by Darren Burns in Sde Boker. These are an uncommonish winter visitor to Israel but only in the north. To find one in the middle of the desert in southern Israel is quite extraordinary. Rarity is contextual!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


Heavy rains last night and this morning brought down a lot of birds. The Sde Boqer nets (Darren Burns) were full of Chiffchaffs (45 out of 88 birds today) but star of the show was this stunning female Hawfinch. Lots around this year (at least five on the kibbutz) especially in the north. I really like these birds.

I was warned to be careful of the beak - Hawfinches make light work of cherry stones - this one gave me an exploratory bite on the thumb but shrikes are worse, a lot worse.

I haven't had the chance to really see the plumage details on Hawfinches - at best I've had good views while they are at the top of a tree and I'm at the bottom. One in the hand is something special!
Amazing, iridescent flight feathers,
and such an odd shape. Display feathers or some aerodynamic accoutrement?

The Eastern Imperial Eagle is back by the road running from the kibbutz to Ma'on junction. I look forward to trying to grab a few pics - it's nearly adult and looking very fine.