Saturday 25 November 2017


Today we saw one of the finest sights that winter birding has to offer here - the Dotterel flock near Hatzerim. Shachar Shalev left the (mega) wheatears for a while and came up from Eilat. With some directions from Olga Chagina we headed into the wilds between Nahal Besor and Hatzerim. We arrived at the plain that the Dotterels like and almost immediately we spotted some 20+. The longer we looked the more we saw. In total there were probably 100 or more. Quite an amazing sight - scores of these gorgeous plovers feeding or resting on what looks like a barren plain.

A few Golden Plover were mixed in with them and Skylarks were also finding plenty to eat. On the way back we stopped off at the Urim fields but apart from two stunning juv Eastern Imperial Eagles and a Peregrine the area was quite quiet raptor-wise. The Huge numbers of Skylarks though, and probably happy with the lack of predators. We did see Hen and Marsh Harrier but only singles. We found a stubble field packed with Lapwings and a  few Golden Plover but the Sociable Plovers remained elusive. Here, the fields hold another juv Eastern Imperial Eagle and a couple of Merlin, one of which looks very pale but flew off before we could get decent view. While not as birdy as last year the winter fields here are still very rewarding and it was a real pleasure to bird them with Shachar.

Saturday 11 November 2017

Little Bunting (but no photos)

I finally cleared a major blockage today. Little Bunting has long been on my most wanted list and every autumn I manage not to see any. Little Bunting is one of the reasons I tend not to twitch as my dip rate is 100% with this bird (last attempt being one missed at Nafcha a couple of weeks ago). Today though the gods of migration smiled on me. Wife, dog and I set off for our Saturday morning 10 km and as we passed 1 km I saw a passerine up on the electricity wires. As soon as I looked at it through binoculars and checked out the small size, pink legs, distinct dark streaks on its flanks, rufous cheek and grey bill I thought 'Little Bunting'. And then it called, and ID confirmed!

The bird flew off into the field and I ran back to the house to get my camera (our Saturdays walks have been so empty of birds recently that I've stopped carrying it) but by my return the bird had gone. A fruitless search followed along with vows to always, always carry a camera. I'll return to the spot this evening to see if it returns. . . .

Thursday 9 November 2017

Booted and Greater Spotted Eagles

Really bad luck today - I took the day off work as I had to do some family stuff. I was in Kfar Ruppin when an RBA came through - two Olive-backed Pipits found about 100 m (as the pipit flies) from my desk at Midreshet Ben-Gurion! Ouch. And ouch again.

Anyway, the Kfar Ruppin alfalfa fields held thousands of larks and pipits - an incredible sight. I arrived too late in the morning though and the heat haze made observation rather difficult and identification even more so. Eventually I heard a single Oriental Skylark call but it disappeared into the crop. Avi, who was also there, heard one too. That was more or less it. Some raptors - Long-legged Buzzards, Black Kites, Kestrels, Sparrowhawks and great views of Booted Eagles (both phases),

 great landing lights.

and Greater Spotted Eagles.

A taste of the south for me - Namaqua Doves

and Indian Silverbills - apparently common but it's the first time I've seen them there (admittedly, this is only the third time I've been to these fields).

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...