Saturday 23 November 2019

Arabian Warbler and Pallid Scops Owl

Arabian Warbler is a really special bird. Very localised and one of Israel's rarest residents. Itay H. wanted to catch up with one and I was very happy to accompany him on the trip south. We arrived at the site in cool and overcast conditions. It didn't take long to find the first birds. Definitely three but possibly two more, calling and flying from tree to tree. Superb views but the poor light didn't allow for anything more than record shots.We spent a minimum amount of time - enough to enjoy the birds but keeping disturbance to a minimum (hopefully).

Nice views of the white tips on T5 and T6.

A brief moment of sunshine.

With that success we set off to another site nearby where we found what looked like an armenicus stonechat and were trying to pin down odd looking Sylvia when a small owl flew out of a tree just behind Itay. It flew straight into a huge mass of desert mistletoe in a nearby acacia and remained hidden as we scanned the tree from top to bottom. Sunbirds and Sardinian Warblers joined together in scolding the owl but we had no view of it. The commotion died down and we thought the owl had slipped away to a quieter spot. We continued our walk and on our return checked the tree again. A single Sunbird was scolding something near the canopy. There it was - a Pallid Scops Owl, beautiful, petite and superbly camouflaged.
The image above is post-processed a bit to increase exposure and try and get the most out of that gorgeous grey vermiculation. The image below was taken when the sun came out.

Two of the best desert birds - particularly the owl. It was such an unexpected pleasure to find.

Friday 8 November 2019

Eastern Imperial Eagle

Eastern Imperial Eagles are not an unusual sight here in the winter but this bird is amazing. Every year it arrives at the end of the first week of November (7th this year) and perches on the same tree. This is the fifth or sixth year I've seen it and its second year of adult plumage. I keep an eye open for it from the end of October and I'm delighted when I finally see that distinctive silhouette against the morning sun. Relieved, too, that it made it through another year. What a beautiful and majestic bird!

 I went back to Besor Reservoir last Saturday afternoon and the Pacific Golden Plover was there with a Golden Plover. The difference in jizz was very noticeable. The Golden Plover is bulkier, shorter necked, shorter tibia, more pointed and finer billed than the
Pacific GP (seen again today) which looks 'bobble-headed', thicker billed, leggier (longer tibia) and generally thinner in build.  

Here I was looking at two birds. The first time I saw PGP it was on a Scottish estuary in a flock of 2000+ GPs. All were resting in a tightly packed flock and we had to wait for hours before the rising tide finally forced them to wake up, stretch their wings and fly. White axillaries on GP and
 dark axillaries on the PGP.
Very nice bird.
Having a shiver.
Eran Banker reported a Daurian Shrike at the beginning of the week further down the Besor stream. Itay and I had a quick look for it but no sign. Oh well, still a good morning's birding.

Friday 1 November 2019

Pacific Golden Plover

Besor Reservoir again this morning. Lots of winter birds around. Chaffinches, Robins, Bluethroats, the first (3) Northern Lapwings of the year, Water Pipits, Spanish Sparrows, Teal, Pintail, Gadwall, Mallard and Cormorants. Four Great Egrets, a few Little Egrets, Black-crowned Night Herons, Redshank and Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, both stints, Ringed Plovers, Ruff, Stilts, a single Spoonbill, European and White-breasted Kingfishers, a Water Rail, two Citrine Wagtails, a Clamorous Reed Warbler and several Chiffchaffs. And then I saw this . . . .
One of the Golden Plovers but very leggy with a heavier bill than the European ones. I worked my way a bit closer to the bird and grabbed a few photos. Pacific Golden Plover!

Eventually it flew, giving a distinctive two syllable flight call. I didn't get to see the axillaries as the autofocus on my camera was hunting wildly - should have used binoculars instead. Anyway, a cracking bird to see here and a great start to the winter's birding!

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...