Saturday 31 December 2011

Eastern Imperial Eagles

An excellent finish to 2011. Three juv Eastern Imperial Eagles sat together in one of the northern fields before flying off. Two went north but one flew towards me allowing fantastic views. The adult was also present in its usual spot on the western edge of the Nir Oz fields.

All in all, it's been an excellent few months birding here. Highlights for me were Steppe Grey Shrike (1), Sociable Plover (4 max.), Oriental Skylark (1), Richard's Pipit (1) and of course, the winter raptors (Eastern Imperial Eagle, Spotted Eagle, Lanner Falcon, Peregrine, Merlin, Common Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Pallid Harrier, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier). The winter fields have filled up with Lapwings, larks, pipits and Corn Buntings. Golden Plover passed through earlier (up to 49 in a single flock). A single Eleonora's Falcon and a small group of Levant Sparrowhawks seen from our porch were definitely the year's best garden birds. 

The autumn passerine migration was a joy to see. Waves of Willow Warblers gave way to wintering Chiffchaffs. Black Redstarts replaced Redstarts. Bluethroats are numerous. Stonechats ditto. Two groups of Golden Orioles moved through. A single Savi's Warbler and a single Great Reed Warbler were highlights around the sewage pond. Also, a single Zitting Cisticola in the northern fields was a pleasant surprise. 

Lesser Grey, Masked and Red-backed Shrikes were all common in season. No records of Woodchat Shrike yet.

Stone Curlew numbers in the stock yard rose to 85 before they dispersed.

My brother came over for a week in October and we managed some superb birding around here and in the Arava. Hooded Wheatear, Sooty Falcon, Little Bittern, Crowned Sandgrouse were new for me. We found a very smart Grey Phalarope at Khehemin - a rarity here.

There's always 'one that got away' and my one was a possible Nightingale ssp. hafizi. It appeared briefly and then went to cover, frustrating several attempts on my part to relocate it. Oh well.

Looking forward to an exciting 2012 spring.

Monday 12 December 2011

Sociable Plovers - lost and found

The Sociable Plovers have been missing for the last few days. The southern fields, where they were, were also denuded of Lapwings. I thought they may have moved on and so I was delighted to find three of them in the north fields. Once again, they were associated with a/the Lapwing flock.

The drive to the north fields turned up some good birds too. In the distance, to the west, a large falcon attacked a Peregrine which flew off low and very fast. The larger bird settled only to be attacked by a Black Kite. As they flew about I managed decent enough views to call it a Lanner Falcon.

Two Golden Jackal went sprinting across one of the ploughed fields. I've seen this pair on several occasions - they are wary but don't seem to mind human presence too much.

This Starling flock was amazing to see - beautifully choreographed flight: stills just don't do it justice.

A quick check of the sewage pond produced this Common Sandpiper . . . 

. . . two Snipe, several Bluethroats, Swallow and a Sparrowhawk directly overhead.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Southern Grey Shrike

A bright and windy day - the larger raptors stay low, roosting in the fields and trees but the falcons come into their own. Many Kestrels, Sparrowhawks and one Merlin rocketing around the fields. The highlight today though was this Southern Grey Shrike. These grey shrikes can be challenging to identify but I'm confident that this is Lanius meridionalis ssp. elegans. Hopefully it's not passing through and will stay for the winter. This one perched,


 flew down to catch an insect,
 then flew off into the shrubs.

Every day brings good views of Eastern Imperial Eagle.

Magnificent birds. This juvenile caught the attention of a Hooded Crow - despite the poor quality of the shot I've included it to show the size differences between the two. Even though the crow is a bit ahead of the eagle the eagle has twice the wingspan.

Kestrels are difficult to photograph - they don't allow close approach and fly off fast. I was pleased to get these two portraits of a female and male.

An obliging Common Buzzard.

Numerous other common birds around. Meadow Pipits
  and Red-throated Pipits among them.

Sunbirds appear to be increasingly active. The males are iridescent

 and the females decidedly less so. They do have a charm of their own though.

NW India - 9th to 22nd February 2020 (Kosi River, Corbett NP, Haripur Dam, Pangot, Sattal, Chopta, Walterre)

If you look through the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent (Grimmett, Inskipp and Inskipp, 2011) you cannot help noticing the huge range of s...