Thursday, 30 May 2019

Israel late April to early May 2019 - part 2

The second part of the Israel 2019 spring trip here covers the remaining highlights including some of the stunning Collared Flycatchers that were seen. 

The trip report is also completed and upload now to and it contains updated maps and infor for visiting birders. 

Kentish Plover : KM20 Salt Pans
This stunning bird was the best of the few that were seen this year 

Bee-eater - Hameishar plains
Several small flocks of migrating Bee-eaters were seen with those at Hameisher hawking Painted Lady butterflies.

Bittern - KM19 Sewage Pond : late April
Initially elusive it was eventualaly seen well at the sluice

Presumed hybird European Honey Buzzard x Crested Honey Buzzard
A number of hybrid Honeys were seen through the Eilat Mountains on days of big migration

 Presumed hybird European Honey Buzzard x Crested Honey Buzzard
A number of hybrid Honeys were seen through the Eilat Mountains on days of big migration

 Crested Honey Buzzard or Hybrid - Eilat Mountains : May
Another conumdrum bird. Amongst the tens of thousands of Honey Buzzards passing overheard initially looked like a juvenile Crested Honey Buzzard however once time has been taken to study the images it looks, structurally, closer to European Honey Buzzard so it to is probably a hybrid. Either way it stood out like a sore thumb in the crowd.

Collared Fycatchers - Lake Yeroham : late April
Right at the start of the trip I hit good numbers of this stunning flycatcher with 20-25 seen at Lake Yeroham.

Levant Sparrowhawk - male, IBRCE : late April
several days of around 2600-2800 were had at the IBRCE whilst the Eilat Mountains one morning gave in the region of 9,000. Just stunning spectacle. 

Visit the Levant Sparrowhawk page for more images and to see a short video clip click on the YouTube link here :

Crested Honey Buzzard - IBRCE, May
One of three seen at the IBRCE which part of the twelve that had spent the winter here. This is the least tatty plumaged of gthe three. 

House Crow - North Beach : April
Rarely photographed I liked this image of the two together on the beach

Israel late April to early May 2019 - Part 1

I was back in Israel this spring, from late April into early May and had been hoping for a good Honey Buzzard and Levant Sparrowhawk passage as well as lots of other great birds. 

The Honey's and Levant's hot the mark whilst I catch the end of the Collared Flycatcher bonanza that was occuring in the country but most other migration was a bit tough with lower than expected numbers of some species. That being said some excellent birds and birding experiences were had and some of the highlights are shown below and in the next page. 

For the Honey Buzzards and Levant Sparrowhawks there are seperate pages for this covering numerous birds. 

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater - Yotvata Sewage Ponds : May 2019
Small flocks were noted here and at Ketura

European Roller - En Avrona
One of three birds found in the Acacia thorn scrub.

Black Scrub Robin
This bird was seen feeding a fledgling and put on a fine show early morning at Kibbutz Samar. To see a short video of this click on the YouTube link here

Black-winged & Collared Pratincoles - KM20 Salt Pans
Initially I found three Black-winged Pratincoles at KM19 Pool before I relocated them here where they had been joined by a Collared Pratincole which allowed for close comparison between the two species; the Collared is the righthand bird

 European Honey Buzzard - KM20 Salt Pans : late April
This was my best year for this species with large numbers seen on more than one occasion with a peak of around 93,000 through the Eilat mountains on the 5th May. This particular bird came down to drink at the Salt Pans late April. 
For a selection of images of the the Honey's visit the Honey Buzzards 2019 highlights page. For a short YouTube video of some of this spectacle click on the YouTube link here:

Little Bittern, female - IBRCE Ringing Centre
A few inteesting birds were sen in hand at the ringing centre with Rufous Scrub Robin and Corncrake amongst the others. 

 Little Bittern - female  : KM19 Sewage Pond
An extremely tame female Little Bittern fished at the sluice of the sewage pond. At time it was so close I couldn't focus the camera on it. 

Rufous Scrub Robin - IBRCE
Absolutley stunning species that here shows the tail pattern nicely

Masked Shrike - Lake Yeroham

Night Herons - IBRCE : late April
This flock was seen migrating north over the reserve

 Ortolan Bunting - Neot Semadar Sewage Ponds
Only seen on the firt evening were a couple came down to drink at the ponds

Short-troed Eagle - Mt. Amasa : late April 
Mt. Amasa is regularly hosts resident birds with this typical individual amongst those seen

 'Southern' Grey Shrike - KM82 : late April
A pair were holding territory close to the road in this superb birding wadi

 Blue-cheeked Bee-eater - Ketura Sewage Ponds : May

Broad-billed Sandpiper - KM20 Salt Pans : May
 A very good year for this species with my personal peak count being 19 at this location

Collared Pratincole - KM20 Salt Pans : April
Not overly common this year those that were seen showed very well from the car

Corncrake - Kibbutz Samar : late April
This bird walked past the car whilst I was waiting for Black Scrub Robin to appear

Golden Oriole - Kibbutz Lotan : May
Quiet aa good showing this year with several bright birds present around the Organic Gardens of the Lotan Kibbutz. 

 Scrub Warbler - Uvda
A family party of Scrub Warblers was near the picnic site along Route 12 south of the Uvda Valley turn-off.

Hill Sparrow - HaMeishar Plains : May
A few of this species, my only lifer of the trip, were seen at this splendid location

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Mandarin in Southchurch

Mandarins have become increasingly scarce locally in recent years so with a drake in Southchurch Park East a slight detour on way home from birding was in order and it was a cracker in superb evening sunlight; ducks don't get much more colourful than a drake Mandarin.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Rubythroat; best bird ever

When on Fair Isle from mid October onwards each autumn you enter the territory of the bonkers rarities; those birds which raise the pulse to a new level when the WhatsApp group message goes off, or even if you are lucky to be the one to find the bird to start the island wide birder panic. Of these Siberian Rubythroat is one such bird and there can't be a birder in the country who does not dream of finding one. Whilst it has become a little more regular in its occurances in the UK in recent years, regular still be subjective, one still needs to be up on the northern isles to stand any realistic chance of connecting and with Fair Isle holding just about half of the British records it has to be the place to get one. I've been lucky in that I've seen two British Rubythroats, the male at Levenwick on Shetland and a female on Fair Isle but its still a bird I really want to see again and again. The male on Fair Isle this year was the second latest to have been found in the UK on the late date of 28th October, following the male found on Fair Isle in November 2017. 

As  I wasn't on the island at this time, I would have been home by several weeks I have found myself recalling the male in Holland in March 2016 that I and three others twitched. Some birders were dismissing this gem as an escape whilst others, like us, ignored this and went and saw it and it was worth the effort. Whilst the bird was often very confiding this is no different to those birds I've seen in China. 

So until I can see another male Rubythroat, and hopefully this time it will be on Fair Isle, I have revisited the video I took of the bird and loaded it here from Youtube. 

Due to file size constraints this isn't the full HD version but you definately get the idea.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Black-throated Diver - Gunners Park

When a Black-throated Diver appeared on the lake at Gunners Park a few days ago I was hoping it would linger till the wekend when I would have a chance to get down there. 

My morning visit resulted in the bird still being present but the weather was atrocious with very low cloud, rain and very little light so I really struggled with the camera settings with high ISO (minimum 1000) to get a shuter speed of at least 1/100th second. Awful. 

As a result most of the shots I took were blurred but a few were just salvagable and as can be seen it was, at times, an extremely showy bird. 

It seemed to be feeding quite well, though I didn't see it actually catch anything. It also struggled to get up the embankment as it apparently attmepted to make a cross land attempt to reach the sea. It got about 15-20metres or so before it retreated to the lake when a dog walker walked straight towards it with his two large hounds, dog walkers are an issue here. 

If the weather improves tomorrow I'll return and try again for improved images but for now here's my low light attempts.

This is by far and away the best views of a Black-throated Diver I have ever seen.

What are great bird