Friday 13 April 2018

Baillon's Crakes

Been a couple of weeks since I checked Besor reservoir. Lots of water, lots of insects and lots of birds. Started with a couple of Ortolan, a couple of newly arrived Rufous Bush Robins, a pair of Roller displaying and checking out nest holes. Bee-eaters aplenty and masses of Blackcaps. The reed beds were teeming with Reed Warblers. Noticed a movement in the vegetation at the water's edge - Baillon's Crake! Very skulking, didn't come out into the light for a decent photo.

 Super cryptic in the shade!

This and another bird shared this patch and I found a third Baillon's a little further along the water line. A fourth crake turned out to be a Little Crake but no sign of a Spotted Crake to complete the trinity.
The pair of Ferruginous Duck were present as was this Black-tailed Godwit - a nice surprise for this site and I cannot remember the last time I saw one here.
 Four Flamingo in the centre of the reservoir (three in view).
 And a third Rufous Bush Robin singing by the car park on my way out.
 Very few raptors around - a single Osprey and a single Marsh Harrier were the only ones of note.

Saturday 7 April 2018

Oriental Honey Buzzard, Pied and Cyprus Wheatears and other birds - Eilat 02-06 April 2018

Had an amazing few days in Eilat with my brother Rod. He came over with the express wish to relax with some quality birds. Mission accomplished! Star of show (for me) was the overwintering female Oriental Honey Buzzard in the date palms north of the Bird Park. Birding this area is difficult to say the least and we had no great hopes of locating the OHB. Amazed then, to see the bird fly from behind us and out into the open border area.
She came back into the palms but gave no further sightings until she dropped out of the canopy ~70m ahead and flew through the palm trunks before disappearing into the canopy again. Very lucky to get a couple of record shots of this beautiful bird!

 Yotvata was the place to be with a 2cy rubescens Menetries Warbler

  and two! Pied Wheatears located (and ringed) around the pumpkin field.

The second,young, bird below.

The pumpkins attracted a lot of prey for Lesser Kestrels

 Although Yotvata was certainly the place to be K19 and K20 are always worth a look. The Lesser Flamingo was feeding right by the entrance to the K20 pools and gave fantastic views!

As did a few Collared Pratincoles

Shachar Shalev found a Cyprus Wheatear between Yotvata and Grofit. We arrived in the midday heat and had some fine views. Here's a short series of pics showing that even skilled insectivores make mistakes. 

Got the prey.
 Dropped the prey.
 Not letting that get away.
 Got it.

 Really stunning bird.

And now the best of the rest. Juvenile Bonelli's Eagle at K19. This and a Booted Eagle were hunting the cow shed pigeons.

Red-necked Phalaropes (12) at the Bird Park.
And a Spoonbill on Lake Anita (Citrine wagtail too, but it flew off before I could even raise my binoculars let alone camera).

Ortolan at K20 (not too many around but several flybys),
 cracking Semi-collared Flycatcher at Lotan,
 and some Short-toed Larks

 many Tree Pipits around
  and Rock Pipits,
masses of Yellow Wagtails (all sorts)

White-crowned Black Wheatears

 Wrynecks (this at Neot Smadar).
It was sad to leave the Arava but a bonus on our trip back north was a flock of five Temminck's Larks near Har Ait and a couple of Hooded Wheatears at Neot Hakikar.

This was a short but incredible trip. Apart from the birds photographed the sky was full of Steppe Buzzards, a few Steppe Eagles and extraodinary numbers of hirundines - Swallows, Red-rumped Swallows, House Martins, Sand Martins, Swifts, Pallid Swifts, a small number of Alpine Swifts. A walk in the dunes near the border brought the amazing calls and a brief sighting of Hoopoe Lark displaying as well as Quail, a single Montagu's and Pallid Harriers. 

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...