After the 5 hour flight from Luton to Tel Aviv we met up with our guides James Smith and Martyn Kenefick. We set off in 2 minibuses to the Guvelot Kibbutz. This was basic accommodation for the overnight stop.
Day 1 proper. Tuesday 22 March 2011.
We set off early the next morning with a packed breakfast, but not before I had found a Syrian woodpecker in a tree near our chalet. When we got on the road, almost immediately a great spotted cuckoo flew in front of the bus followed by common myna birds nearby.
The main target birds this morning were McQueen's bustard and cream-coloured courser, 2 of the big 5 birds that we would be looking for on this trip. We stopped in the middle of the desert and piled out to scan the horizon. Very soon we had located both birds in the far distance (too far for photographs but visible with the scope), along with woodchat shrike, desert lark, and various distant raptors.
We then moved on to a set of sewage ponds to look for sandgrouse. After sitting still for a while we managed to see black bellied, spotted and pin-tailed sandgrouse, as well as a black shouldered kite, pallid harrier, hen harrier, bluethroat, oriental skylark, short toed lark, crested lark, zitting cisticola, black winged stilt, lesser whitethroat, white wagtail, yellow wagtail, spur-winged plover, and several more common waders.
|Migrating white storks|
|Pallid harrier - male|
|Pallid harrier - female|
We moved on to another reservoir area where we saw a number of relatively common waterbirds, ducks as well as 3 southern grey shrikes.
|Southern grey shrike|
|Eastern mourning wheatear|
|Palestine sunbird - male. The female is just too drab to put up!|
|Eastern black-eared wheatear|
The Dan Panorama Hotel was really nice. A luxury hotel with lovely rooms, fabulous buffet food and friendly service. The food was too good really and we certainly put on weight after the trip! Lynne was in her element with the huge range of vegetarian food. After dinner, we had the bird report and, after one drink, we sloped off to bed, exhausted!!
Day 2 - soon!