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

Eilat..... (1 Viewer)

Last of the pics.

1. Definitely a dodgy underworld look to me.
2. Wriggly little 'spic.
3. Eastern Olly cf bill.
4. Subtle plumage tones.
5. I'm ready for my shoot Mr DeMille.....


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5. Is it Orphean because of the melodious/entrancing song after the poet Orpheus or because the dark plumage deemed it a denizen of the underworld and a personal friend of Hades?

According to Wikipedia (if you believe it or not) the English name comes from the mythical musician / singer Orpheus.
Time for an overview now that i have been here 10 days…..

First off - Eilat is fooking expensive and I mean pricey. It’s a resort at the other end of Israel which makes it like buying stuff on an island as most items are trucked down here (remember prices on the Scillies?). OK I had been shopping in a small supermarket, friendly and helpful staff and family run, so it’s like a big corner shop and we know they have to charge more. I will now cycle a bit further to a bigger place - not just to eke money out but for more choice. I don’t actually have to watch the pennies but it’s force of habit because I have generally had to. I will be 95% self-catering in the hostel. I don’t see the point in spending a King’s ransom to sit on my own at the local Schwarma and tuck into the Elephant’s leg without a cold beer to wash it down. I like cooking and do it all at home and have done for The Bride for 20+ years. I don’t honestly know how she is going to manage as 6 weeks is not really long enough to learn a knew skill. She could do with losing some weight.

Eilat is the polar opposite of where I would stop to bird if I was in Iberia, Maroc or anywhere else for that matter - we all know it’s all about the birds. I look around and it feels like an upmarket building site dotted with bits of Blackpool for added charm. Surprisingly there is a very good but small museum which documents the history since 1948 when the strategic importance of having a Red Sea port was realised. I have not visited yet but it has to be the best value in Town at 5 Shekels already. There are loads of old pictures including stuff like the then Prime Minister with the first baby to be born in Eilat. I can imagine the ‘Settler’ mindset back in the day.

I have already decided to leave at least 3 full days in order to leave Israel with some cultural and historical ‘feel’ by spending some time mooching around Jerusalem as opposed to a totem to hedonistic consumerism. There I will not self-cater but dine out at local eateries and have local beer and maybe a bottle or two of wine. Again I will stop in another Hostel Abraham albeit one a tad smaller. The Eilat one sleeps 400 and is a large, modern, edifice. I have to say that I like it. The staff are super-friendly and the s/c kitchen is good. I have found the people very friendly OK there is the odd chancer wanting this and wanting that but as they usually have a fag and a beer to hand plus look smarter than me I’m sure you can fill in the blanks. There does seem to be a habit, if the hostel is anything to go by, of folk talking across you whilst you are asking advice from the staff. I pointed that out to the receptionist and she agreed that they do and it is rude. I then pointed out to her that she answered them instead of saying she was dealing with another customer - go figure.

It has generally been acknowledged that it has been quiet birdwise and hopefully this period of “phoney war’ will be over with the arrival of not only birds but birders. Today has been really quiet with zilch raptors but more of todays sightings on a separate post. Birds moving through the Eilat Mountains are either low and hidden or high and dottish. Stragglers do drop down over the reserve but not in any number certainly as far as I have seen. The same applies to both passerines and waders and there are far fewer Gulls than I expected. This has been reflected in the amount and variety of ringing. The station has loads of ringing bags and can collect a fresh catch every half an hour or even more frequent as they have a few intern and voluntary ringers. Personally I have enjoyed it but I always knew there would be loads of new birds as I am at the other end of the Med with all its Eastern ‘splits’ and new regional breeders although I do not anticipate many of them on this trip. If my only week was the first one then migration-wise I would have returned disappointed. I am already planning on coming again but probably mid-April to mid-May. I am here purely for migrants with limited range from the IBRCE as I wish to look for, at, and bird local habitats. I already know that I was over-optimistic in my cycle plans and have adjusted accordingly. I look forward to accepting the odd lift but I haven’t come here to spend time in cars. My days are generally up at 5am shower and sort some food out and up at Holland Park for about 6:15. Out all day more or less. If I plan on the North Beach for 16:30 I get back to the hostel for a beer about 3-3:30 and down North Beach until 5:30 back for 6 as the light drops. A few beers, notes, pics etc. Cook some food and abed by 10. No matter what I see or where I cycle it is quite a long day and I sleep like a log in a dorm of upto 4. Then repeat. By the time I finish my 42 days in the Wilderness I know I shall be glad to get back home to Dog, Curry and Bride…..in that order but knowing one day later I will wish I hadn’t made it a return ticket.

Good birding -

Laurie -
Agreed, I could do with going back a Stone lighter and what with heat, cycling without electric assistance and a reduction in appetite that usually accompanies this sort of jaunt I might be on the way but I am drinking more beer.....

Laurie -

1. Nice tail.
2. It's a 'Start.
3. Smart 'Start.
4. Double figures on the reserve at present.
5. The Beast from the East.


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More stuff.

1. Dark-morph Reef.
2. Lion of the Negev.
3. When day turns to night.
4. Whiskered.
5. Caspo.


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1. Kingy.
2. Jordanian Blackhawk.
3. Twothroats.
4. Netanil (Gift from God) 15yo volunteer Vogelfuhrer (Bird Guide) also partaking in the IBRCE Champions of the Flyway team this year (y)
5. Part of 30+ Garganey on KM19.


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Yes I think so but a large area of the fields are now a solar array and no cattle in those sheds by the looks of it.
I knew the old north circular field was going to become a field of solar panels, didn't realised it had happened already. Hopefully the rain will help the onion and melons fields further to the north, if there's any left and if they are planted.
Don't neglect the other town parks; Central / Imax park is generally better than Ofira these days and Canada Park can be very good at times for flycatchers.
Agreed - when things actually start coming through I suppose anywhere has stuff. The Southerly wind appears to have dispersed raptor streams to the other side of the Eilat Mountains. The nets were virtually empty today, a few bits and bobs and a Hoopoe notable. Waders are not in numbers at any of the pools - someone I have been pairing up with from time to time, Stefan Janner from Sweden, goes back on Tuesday after 2 weeks and says it is easily the quietest in 8 trips over 15 years.....

Laurie -
I will.....and have drink/drunk to that mate (y)

It's Sunday so some domestics and a change in routine for a day with local parks and then IBRCE.

Will post Fri/Sat posts as one later on with a few pics.

Laurie -
Fri 18th / Sat 19th…..

Definitely an uptick in passerines but only in isolated bushes with flowers. This up at Holland Park haven’t noticed much around the reserve but there’s a lot of cover so there will be that’s for sure. Lesserthroats dominate quite often chasing and ‘tak’ing each other. Another singing male Ruppell’s with a supporting cast of Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Garden Warbler x2. The other notable was an Eastern Bonelli’s. Local backup included the usual suspects of Blackstart, Prinia, Babbler, Sunbird, Sand Partridge and Rock Martin. Barn Swallows moving thru in small groups.

The saline pools at the IBRCE are pretty large so waders can be spread out and so look relatively empty. Access down to about 1/3 of the way and along the North South edges is fine so if you are prepared to put in the leg work c/w scope you can get good coverage. A few bits and bobs appearing to cheer things up. Greenshanks and Marsh Sand for example - confusingly the calls are very similar but I will get that sorted out…..in theory. Upto 3 Caspian Terns have been present and yesterday there was a super-smart Greater Sand Plover. According to the warden Greater turn up now sporting nuptial pelage whereas Lesser appears likewise in April - see, that’s how easy it is to tell them apart down here. Herons etc overflying all the time with upto 30 Grey on the lagoons. Striated Heron, Squacco and a Bittern are present.

A cycle trip down to KM19/20 proved a useful exercise and a waste of time for me. The back road is hard on the bike and pedalling with a lot of rolling resistance. A headwind on the way back didn’t help. The birds just move away from me so unless there is a lift forget about it. My time is better spent more local. Bits and bobs e.g’ Garganey and a nice female Marsh Harrier but nothing notable.

Yesterday again Holland Park with a repeat of the day before but with both Jackal and a beautiful Cape Hare fleet of foot. Very pale Sandy, as expected, with long ears that you could virtually see through. Down at the IBRCE a distant Crested HB picked up by a group as was a calling Moustached Warbler in front of one of the hides. I jammed in on both - lucky me. Raptors were desperately thin as the tail wind is dispersing streams the other side of the Eilat Mountains leaving the crumbs on the border. The nets were virtually empty all morning with only about 4 bags containing a victim collected hourly - one of those did contain Israel’s national bird though!

At 12:30 it was decided to head back up to KM76 some 45 miles hence. I was offered a lift for which an arm was ripped off. In the vehicles were Shachar, 3 intern ringers and Stefan - I can assure you that I was there to make up the numbers as another pair of eyes to clock and point stuff out but not to shout out ID - I know my place on this learning curve. Reports on Friday contained finds of Black-crowned Finch Lark and what turned out to be about 6 Bimac’s in with their Short-toed and half-sized cousins. 6 of us did a 2.5 hour figure of 8 sweep neither of these were found despite about 150 StL’s to sift through. It wasn’t all Bad Day at Black Rock as we had to put up with a supporting case of:

Hen Harrier - male and female.

Kestrel - ditto.

Great Grey Shrike - single ‘aucheri’ type.

Spanish Sparrow - at least 250.


Crested Lark.

Isabelline Wheatear - at least 3.

Tawny Pipit - parties in double figures maybe 50 birds totally.

Bar-tailed Lark - a smart bird very pale underneath with a distinct Black terminal band.

Temminck’s Lark - a roving party of about 10 birds.

Northern Wheatear.

Red-rumped Swallow - birds moving through.

Pallid Harrier - a nice male hawking over mid-distance fields.

Chretzschmar’s Bunting - stonking male a metre up in a low bush.

Ortolan Bunting - 2 birds on a distant barbed wire coil fence.

Stonechat - male.

Quail - a bird flushed that called.

Unfortunately the wind was 15mph gusting 20 which meant anything that didn’t hug the ground and flew off got taken a couple of hundred yards straight away. I do have some photos to sift through. 2 of the above were ‘lifers’ btw. En-route back we clocked a perching Wheatear that flew off. The bird was dark-mantled and revealed a Reddish tail pattern with a dark centre. We could not relocate but discussion centred around Persian / Kurdish.

No Bimac no Cigar but it sure beats my local fields at West Hagley.

Good birding -

Laurie -

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