Saturday 29 December 2012

Saker Falcon

Had a fantastic morning driving down the Urim pylon line with Yariv, Lian and Michael. The fields were full of birds - Black Kites, Kestrels, Merlin, Long Legged Buzards, Hen Harrier, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Peregrine, Cranes, clouds of larks, pipits and wagtails etc. Our eyes were firmly on the raptors today and the target species was Saker Falcon. We eventually found this superb individual perched on one of the pylons.
Yariv's Saker Falcon
A distant Peregrine - great views but poor photo . . .

. . . ditto this juv Eastern Imperial Eagle. 

In the same area this mystery eagle was very frustrating - reasonable views but not enough to get a positive ID and too distant for good photos (despite masses of post-processing).

Lesser Spotted or Steppe?

One of the numerous Long Legged Buzzards blending into one of the fields,

another fox-red one flying off from a pylon,

and some of the thousands of Black Kites posing artistically.

With thanks to Yariv, Lian and Michael for a great morning's birding and company.

Sunday 23 December 2012

Oh, what a lark.

Belatedly, as it turned out, decided to try and see the Buff Bellied Pipits at Yotvata today. My route took me through the Meishar plateau and, as I was deciding on a place to stop to look for Asian Desert Warblers (see Yoav Perlman's recent blog ( one flew across the road in front of my car! A little bit of patience was rewarded with some fine views of this uber-cute warbler.

I got a bit distracted by some Black Bellied Sandgrouse calls - didn't manage to see them - but soon after I heard Crowned Sandgrouse calls. A flock of 50-60 flew past at some distance (electricity wires adding to a terrible 'no-data' pic). No chance of ID'ing them visually at that range but their calls are so distinctive!

Inspired by this, I moved up the road a wee bit and chose a greenish patch of the plateau to have breakfast and see what would turn up. Movement amongst the stones/shrubs caught my eye and lo and behold - four Temminck's Larks! I've always loved its congener, the Shore Lark and have long wanted to see Temminck's. They are superbly camouflaged  desert birds - I watched this small group feed for 20 minutes or so before they flew off.

Now you see me,

 Now you don't,

Oh what a lark, 

A single Trumepter Finch added some extra zest to the morning (I haven't seen TF for ages) before I moved off down to the Arava. Which was dull, very dull indeed. I stopped off at all the usual places en route but there was very little around. Yotvata was even duller with no BBP around that I could see. Decided to head back home and dropped by the Re'im sewage pools - a bit surprised to see this Greater Flamingo!
I've only ever see these in Eilat, mostly with much cleaner necks but I guess that goes with the territory.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Urim fields again

A sunny, chilly start to the day in Urim and loads of raptors around. No Sakers (as far as I could see) today on the many, many pylons I scanned but I was intrigued by this falcon - a cracking juv Lanner. Probably 1cy.

Lots of Long Legged Buzzards around and at least four Eastern Imperial Eagles - three juvs and an adult. This stunning juv has its landing gear out, just about to land in a tree.

Peregrines, Kestrels, Merlin, Hen Harriers etc around but surprisingly I didn't see a single Pallid Harrier today - usually at least one harrier's it's way past during the day. Lots of Cranes in the fields too.

Saturday 8 December 2012

Urim fields

After a long spell of enforced non-birding (debilitating summer heat, lack of transport, job pressures) I took the camera out to the Urim fields this morning. Last week a Rough Legged Buzzard (2nd record for Israel) was seen there. Nick Littlewood and I were on site at the time but didn't see it. As usual, there were plenty of Long Legged Buzzards, Buzzards, Hen and Pallid Harriers, Eastern Imperial Eagles, Kestrels, Black Kites, singles of Peregrine and Merlin, around. I was surprised to see this Lesser Spotted Eagle - uncommon at this time of year.

And, of course, the Urim speciality - Sociable Plover. Two of the flock of 13 today (Yoav Perlman counted 18 in two flocks last week). Fantastic birds!

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