Wednesday, 26 March 2014

From city to desert

Hoopoes were often very confiding and approachable, feeding within a few metres of passers-by.
A well-established exotic in several cities in the Western Palearctic, including Tel Aviv, Monk Parakeet is native to South America. The species constructs huge twig nests which have been known to weigh down powerlines.
It was my first full day in Eilat today, having driven down from Tel Aviv yesterday after a walk in a city park which produced nesting Glossy Ibises and Cattle Egrets, Spur-winged Lapwing, breeding Monk Parakeets, 10 Hoopoes, three kingfisher species (including nine White-throateds), two Eastern Bonelli's Warblers and Palestine Sunbird - I wish the park at the end of my road in north London was that good.

Male Semicollared Flycatcher in Eilat this morning - a subtly beautiful species ...
I thought today's star was going to be the male Semicollared Flycatcher I found in an Eilat park - until Jonathan Meyrav texted me news of a Pied Stonechat about an hour's hire-car thrash to the north. I made it in good time to see this WP mega - perhaps only the 7th or 8th for Israel. I also met some old and new faces there, including Frank Moffat, Paul French and his Sunbird group, and Paul Flint and co. In total some 300 birders were estimated to have seen the stonechat by the end of the day, possibly representing the largest-ever twitch in Israel - let's hope it stays for my team mates, who travel out to join me over the next couple of days.

... but bird of the day goes to this less elaborate though far rarer monochrome mega, Pied Stonechat. A vagrant from south Asia, its appearance was absolutely not in the script, and a welcome regional tick.

PS Don't forget the reason I'm here is for the Champions of the Flyway bird race, in which my Birdwatch-BirdGuides team the Roadrunners is raising money for BirdLife International and its fight to end the illegal slaughter of migrants on the Eastern Mediterranean Flyway. Read more about the race on the event website, and make a quick donation to this very worthy cause here - we still need your help to reach our financial target, so all donations are gratefully received.


  1. Well done! Excellent photos!
    Hoopoe is one of our favorite species :-0
    Greetings from Poland

  2. Thanks for the kind comments, Dzial - more photos to come as soon as I get time to upload them!



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