Sunday, 17 April 2011

Israel trip with Birdfinders - Day 2.

Day 2 Wednesday 23 March 2011


After a fantastic first day, with over 30 lifers, the 2nd day was bound to be harder. After an abundant breakfast we made a brief trip to Holland Park in Western Eilat. This relatively green area on stony ground yielded a couple of eastern Bonelli's warblers, Arabian babbler and eastern olivaceous warbler.

Arabian babbler
Eastern olivaceous warbler
Yellow-vented (spectacled) bulbul
As there were not many migrants here, we moved to the Eilat Birdwatching Centre. This was really quite lush but, apart from a nice pair of laughing doves, a purple heron, a squacco heron, another eastern Bonelli's warbler, a distant Kentish plover and a graceful prinia, there was little else of note.


Eastern Bonelli's warbler
 we saw large flocks of slender-billed gulls, greater flamingos, black-winged stilts, avocets, Garganey and shelduck, as well as reasonable numbers of much closer Kentish plover, little stint and a single white pelican.
Laughing doves
On again to the salt pans at kilometre 20. At the entrance we saw a marvellous little green bee-eater on the fence. On the water we saw large flocks of slender-billed gulls, greater flamingos, black-winged stilts, avocets, Garganey and shelduck, as well as reasonable numbers of much closer Kentish plover, little stint and a single white pelican.

Little green bee-eater
Slender-billed gull
Little stints
Kentish plover

About 50 km north of Eilat lies Yot Vata, a cultivated area with recently cut hay fields. It also has a very nice cafe with an ice cream parlour and picnic tables in the shade. We enjoyed a lazy lunch and an enormous ice cream here before starting the serious business of scanning the fields for larks and other small birds. We spread out across the field, flushing several quails as we went. Apart from several hoopoe we saw large numbers of greater short-toed lark, bimaculated lark, crested lark, yellow wagtail (black headed), Northern wheatear and water pipit.

Greater short-toed lark
Crested lark

Next stop was the sewage ponds of Kibbutz Eliphaz . Here we found many white wagtails, a citrine wagtail, a squacco Heron, several bluethroat, a common snipe, more black-headed yellow wagtails, a grey wagtail and flocks of Spanish sparrows. Overhead we saw some European bee-eaters on migration.

Citrine wagtail
Bluethroat (red-spotted)

European bee-eater on migration.

At the end of the afternoon we drove back to the Eilat beach on the Red Sea where we were greeted by a friendly Western Reef Heron.

Western reef heron
Offshore we had distant views of white-eyed, Siberian, Caspian, Armenian and slender-billed gulls. A few sandwich terns fished nearby. Just before we left, a pied Kingfisher came to hover just above our heads.

As dusk came we headed to the hotel for another abundant dinner before the bird report and bed!

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