Saturday 26 October 2013

Eleonora's Falcon

Out walking the dog in the fields last week when I noticed a falcon taking down a passerine. It flew into a tree hedge before I could get my binoculars onto it. We then played hide and seek for a bit as it flew from tree to tree keeping to the rear edge - views of movement but nothing else. At the end of the tree line it exploded out of cover and flew fast into the kibbutz trees. I picked it up later soaring over the houses (our house!) and managed to get some distant shots. If I'd chosen to forego the walk I would have had superb views of this Eleonora's Falcon from my garden. Distant falcons can be difficult to id and this is the first EF I've had even half-way decent views of but the combination of features visible in the photos made me 95% sure of identity - a couple of emails later to Yoav Perlman and I was a very happy birder.

With many thanks to Yoav Perlman for confirming the id and Rod Standing for his comments.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Red-footed Falcons

An afternoon tour of the fields today was reasonably productive. Beautiful autumn weather with a cool wind, big clouds and bright sunshine. Masses of Black Kites sitting on the irrigation equipment apu, a few of them flying up to mob a passing Marsh Harrier. Above the western fields I saw a flock of c. 15+ falcons. Several Red-footeds amongst the Kestrels. The beautiful autumn weather made taking reasonable photos almost impossible - the birds were distant, the wind too strong and the sun against me. Below are the best of the lot but they are pretty poor.

First off, this fine female Kestrel has escaped its trapper but kept the jesses. I wish it luck.

The Kestrels and Red-footed Falcons were up and down and flying around - no way to keep a count. This fantastic male settled onto the field for long enough for me to grab a wind/distance blurred shot.

The next four are juveniles - beautifully plumaged birds.

It was great to see such a flock of falcons - just a pity that my photographic record doesn't do the experience justice.

Friday 18 October 2013

Besor Reservoir IV

Another quick trip to Besor Reservoir this morning. As usual my favourite pool delivered the goods. Nothing too rare or unusual but fantastic views. Bluethroats are really common at the moment but, for me, they've always been a pleasure to see. There were many around this single pool and probably the most numerous bird I saw this morning. Here are two that moved out of the shadows long enough to photograph.

Sitting quietly usually pays off - after a few minutes of Bluethroats this passage/wintering Common Kingfisher added yet another splash of blue and red to the scenery.

Superb views of Moustached Warbler . . .

The Cetti's Warblers were quiet today but still visible.

Ichneumon attempting to hide behind a reed.

On the way back this Southern Grey Shrike provided some extra interest to the newly arrived Stonechats. 

And this latish juv Red-backed Shrike was good to see, accidentally (I guess) choosing a background that very well complemented its vermiculation.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Mitzpe Ramon crater

Went on a field trip this morning to the more inaccessible parts of Mitzpe Ramon crater. After two hours of some really technical 4x4 driving and an easy walk we arrived at a permanent water source - the only spring for many kilometers.

The bird life was pretty sparse but lack of species and numbers was amply compensated for by the incredible views I had - this amazingly tame White-crowned Wheatear flew literally to my feet,

before flying off to a nearby rock for a good scratch,

And the first time I've seen one of these birds in vegetation!

Trumpeter Finches on the wall above the spring.



One of a pair of Scrub Warblers wallcreeping for insects above the water.

Blue Rock-thrush - distant views only.

An ibex checking us out.

Many thanks to Gilli, Sharon, Nina and Yael for great company and the opportunity to visit a truly magical place.

The nets at Sde Boker have been fairly quiet recently. However, we had a fifth (juv) Common Rosefinch - an exceptional year for this bird. Another Icterine Warbler was trapped, with Wryneck, Bluethroats and Little Green Bee-eater(!) adding some interest to the Redstarts, Blackcaps and other common migrants. Chiffchaffs are starting to replace Willow Warblers but generally, numbers have been on the low side for October so far - plenty of migration time left 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...