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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Eilat..... (1 Viewer)

Sorry Steve I meant Brown-necked. It's having all this new info to process with what's left of my marbles still rattling around.....

I was going to edit it but thought I would just mention it in the next post.

Laurie -
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Brompton in sleep mode.
Bulbul backdrop.
ICBRE sultans.
DJ Spooky.
Yellow-vented Bugger.


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Reporting for duty.
Hazy shade of Herky (USAF).
Smart Stilt.


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have you seen the Jordanian 'airforce' out on display yet?
Prop aircraft seem to be up daily buzzing around, soon becomes part of the IBRCE soundtrack as much as the bulbuls
Clocked somebody doing stunts with smoke etc. In addition to the Herc there have been a couple of C17 Globemasters and today 2 desert cammo choppers were buzzing about. Whether I see any IAF F15 and F16 which would be nice.

Laurie -
Sat 11th Mar - Shabbat.

A first visit to the fabled ‘Holland Park’ - I lived for a few months in Holland Park quite why the Eilat one is so-called beats me. Somebody will probably put me out of my misery and it will probably be Steve Arlow. It is safe to say that it reflects the current situation of being rather quiet. However being a newbie to the region ‘Lifer’ was the word of the day.

First off was a rather smart Grey and Black chat calling from a kooliebar tree - an iconic species the Blackstart. Next up, looking down from a ridge into a large bush and well I didn’t actually spot the bird I just saw a dark large leaf that suddenly flashed an iridescent Green patch - Palestinian Sunbird c/w delicate scimitar of a bill - what a little wowser. Finally I sat down on a bench for a swig of Orange. I tend to favour this due to the electrolytic benefit for cycle cramps. I clocked something moving in the middle of what looked like dense foliage. I struggled to make it out then realised how well it blended in…..for such a large bird - Arabian Babbler welcome to my world or more importantly my list. I had read about the communal aspect of this fascinating species where the non-breeders help out with brood feeding and also targeting predators by calling all their mates - my sort of bird. The bird was constantly calling and as if by magic another half a dozen appeared in front of me. Within 10 minutes there was another half a dozen either side - scary. A scenario flashed through my mind. The scene from Jurassic Park when the bloke is trying to escape with the embryos and gets surrounded by these innocuous little Dinos then they spit poison onto him before pecking him to death. I didn’t quite resort to throwing a stick for the Babblers but made my way back to the comfort that only a Brompton can offer.

About 11am I was very kindly offered a lift from a Father and Son from Virginia of Polish descent - the birding scene is such a melting pot. In fact the Dad had sent his Son back to see if ‘the Englishman with the funny bike’ wanted to go up to the Eilat Mountains watchpoint for an hour or so. He most certainly did. It turned out to be a damp squib with a Booted Eagle and a coupla Stepped Buzzards to show for it. A Short-toed and a Black Kite had just gone through. Most people had actually gone up there because the previous day an adult Verraux’s Eagle had been seen but it was not to be. It could however be anywhere so fingers crossed. A large group of Brown-necked, yes Brown-necked, Ravens noisily chased each other around the radio transmitter.

Passage during the morning until 2pm was light but maybe 50 Steppe Eagles had crossed the ICBRE airspace along with a Black Kite and the usual Steppe Buzzards but all at reasonable viewing height. The reflected light gives excellent detail on these birds and in particular the SteppeB’s. About 2pm the stand-in ringer for Noam , Shachar Shalev, decided, on the strength of a reliable report of a Cyprus Wheatear to drive up to the KM76 ‘fields’ as they are ‘green’ and have been turning up the goodies this Spring. This is 76 kilometres drive from Eilat. My new good friend Stef the Swede (Stefan Lindqvist) was up for it and so we bought up the rear. The fields were described as Green, does that mean less Sandy-coloured? The large fields consisted of some sort of residual crop possibly Alfalfa or Squashes with lots of bare areas and the odd isolated shrub. To my eyes it had a ‘why bother’ look to it. I was about to be treated to a mobile masterclass in field birding. An almost one to one from somebody who knows his area and knows his birds - people would and do pay a lot for this sort of thing. Many years of finding and chasing migrant around the Arava means Shachar has a sixth sense for what might be where in a way that newbie visitors like myself are left floundering. But even he can be surprised…..

Closer scrutinising revealed lots of Northern Wheater quite possibly the most I have ever seen in one area maybe 150+ and to my eyes quite astonishing. Several Isabelline were called out as were a few Eastern Black-eareds. As we broke up I even found an Issy and 2 EBE’s myself. A male Hen Harrier put up about 50 Short-toed Larks of which I was informed that there were 2 different races in the flock. In the haze at the end of the field several hundred metres away somebody had scoped a sitting covey of 5 or 6 Spotted Sandgrouse. I had a decent hazy look at them and they appeared to be sitting in a semi-circle perhaps for spotting predators? A few Tawny Pipits appeared despite the haze the spotting on the coverts was discernible. Shachar’s targeting system then acquired a roving party of Temminck’s Larks c/w pale faces rather than the Yellow of Shore Larks that I have seen. We moved around the fields as if looking for a missing person. Next up a nice Desert Wheatear to take the tally to 4 sp in one field and still the possibility of a Cypriot. Still more Easter eggs as a sitting male and female Pin-tailed Sandgrouse failed to escape his scrutiny - in 20 years of birding these fields this is the first reported. This with a ringing tick in the form of a Corn Bunting between 6-10 meant a good day for him. One of the reserve assistants, Ido, was doing his own thing and rang Shachar from about 300 yards away to say he had found a solitary Thick-billed Lark - a surprise to everybody especially as Ido had been looking in the more traditional habitat the past month. What a cracker, a veritable Bull Terrier of a bird. We crossed the road as this was where the CW had been seen 3 hours previously en-route at least 4 Great Grey Shrikes ‘aucheri’ were noted and up popped an absolutely stonking Caspian Stonechat so well-marked c/w Wheatear-type tail pattern. 2 more Hen Harriers were seen 1m 1f. I picked up the latter and shouted ‘ringtail’ and the reply came back ‘ringtail what?’ - never heard of the expression which means he doesn’t know everything…..

As a slight aside whilst we were looking at the TbLark I clocked a White Toyota pickup coming down the access road. It then left the tarmac and came over the fields in our direction. In the meantime a very recognisable Police car also came down but parked on the road obviously not wishing to get the paintwork dusty. By this time Shachar had joined Ido to photograph the Lark. The Toyota pulled up and out jumped 4 of the IDF’s finest tooled up and loaded for Bear. I sensed Stefan’s natural Swedish reticence coming to the fore and half expected him to to resort to the time-honoured tradition of dropping to his knees and begging for his life. Half an hour of great banter ensued with the boys in Green posing for a photo at the end. A thoroughly enjoyable experience altho I did half expect to be asked if I was responsible for the Cabin Crew video ;-) I take the view that if you are not doing anything wrong there is not a problem and any issues are resolvable and if you can inject some humour then it lubricates the conversation.

I will sign off for now and post a few pics next.

Good birding -

Laurie -
have you seen the Jordanian 'airforce' out on display yet?
Prop aircraft seem to be up daily buzzing around, soon becomes part of the IBRCE soundtrack as much as the bulbuls
The Royal Jordanian Falcons with their Extra 300s regularly practiced while we were in Eilat. Nice free aerobatic displays just across the border!

The team is annual at the Royal International Air Tattoo where old hands tend to think of them as a useful time for a loo break during the 8 hour flying display. Unfair - they are very good.

As things quietened a lift was kindly offered by the volunteer standing in for Noam (elsewhere more of that later). A quick mooch up to the KM19 and KM20 pools. En-route we picked up slightly scruffy 1st-Summer male Citrine Wagtail and 3 Little Green Beeaters. Upon arrival it was deemed quiet (he was looking for Wheatears) but 300 Slender-billed Gulls and a Broad-billed Sandpiper hit the spot for me - birding in the Worst Midlands means I am easy to please. A slight detour and we were in luck both wintering flocks of Dead Sea Sparrows and their Spanish cousins were still here. The Swedish birder says that back home they are called Tamarisk Sparrows!

I am still knackered so I will sign off and put a few pics up over the weekend.

Good birding -

Laurie -
These got split by the IOC Laurie, now Arabian Green Bee-eaters in Israel I believe with Asian and African being the other, resultant species.
Aaaah the halcyon days of RIAT John - I did 12 years 1990-2005 but stopped as the aircraft participation both in numbers and variety dipped.
I must admit to reaching for the smelling salts during the display section. It really doesn't do anything for me and I find the Dred Sparrows sooo overrated.
The exception being displays by planes that blow stuff up. I remember the Russian Knights in a 6-ship iirc formation of Mig29's smoking like they were running on unfueled Lead - tremendous stuff. As for the Jordanians I don't think the IDF will be running to the toilets at the thought of mixing it with them these days.

Cheers for the update Andy. I was actually technically aware but I just lapsed into the old skool when-life-was-more-simple.
Now I can wake up one morning and find that the Falcated Duck I twitched for insurance purposes over 30 years ago has been accepted and the next day I have Green and Two-barred Greenish lumped and I am down one on the deal.....

Laurie -
Cheers for the update Andy. I was actually technically aware but I just lapsed into the old skool when-life-was-more-simple.
Now I can wake up one morning and find that the Falcated Duck I twitched for insurance purposes over 30 years ago has been accepted and the next day I have Green and Two-barred Greenish lumped and I am down one on the deal.....

Laurie -
Not on the IOC they're not?
If you have already Laurie ignore….if you haven’t Hoopoe Lark displaying and singing is an absolute must…it sounds as good as Nightingale.
Can’t remember the kilometre post no. as it was some 36 years ago! 👍
After a short visit to Ofira Park I scooted to the IBRCE as it was forecast rain at 9 and it has rained until nearly 1pm. It might have stopped for the day. I am back now and will pop to North Beach as the Swedes have arrived each toting the latest Swaro scope so there will be plenty of choice if they pick up anything - just White-eyed Gull and 2 Ospreys last nite.

I will post some pics before recapping the last couple of days and an overview of the first week with hostel shopping type info.....

Steve: yes things are picking up and I like the open aspect of the place. If birds flit it's easy to follow them to the next bush. There are strategic seats that afford ample opportunity to be surrounded by the Lilliputian-esque Babblers.

Mike: it's only just about to get going. This rain should help and there are noticeably more eyes about ahead of the festival.

Ken: it would be nice but they have gone from local areas due to a range of habitat changes. I can't see me cycling to any suitable areas. I have accepted that due to my transport and sedentary birding. The breeding birds will have to wait for a trip with my mate/chauffeur. Visiting birders are, as expected, super friendly and I anticipate lifts being offered for which I can reciprocate with fuel money, beer or tall tales of the 2nd week of March ;)

Good birding -

Laurie -

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