Early spring in the southern Arava –
Steppe Eagles, White-tailed plover and more

All photos courtesy of Jonathan Meyrav

Steppe EagleSteppe Eagle
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February ended with a nice warm system moving into the southern Arava. Classic spring weather is upon us with crisp cool mornings and temperatures in the high 20's by midday. Spring migration is well underway with many common migrants already at our doorstep. The spring's first Woodchat Shrikes, Tawny Pipits, Short-toed Larks and Yellow Wagtails have made their appearance and many wintering species are vocal and easy to find. On Lotan the resident Namaqua Doves are back at their usual haunts, and at the Lotan date plantation I found a day roosting (Eurasian) Scops Owl and single Wrynecks.

Steppe Eagles are reaching their peak days and the first parties of Black and White Storks work their way north.

White-tailed PloverWhite-tailed Plover
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Having spent nearly no time watching raptor migration this spring I decided to head down to Eilat in search for Eagles on the morning of February 28th . This was a very good choice as the strong winds and the haze clearly affected the birds and they stayed relatively low. I spotted the first kettle of Steppe Eagles around 9:00 while I was birding the Eilot fields. For the next hour I enjoyed a relatively steady stream of Eagles, and counted around 350 Eagles in that first 75 minutes or so, then the pace slowed down and smaller numbers were seen for the rest of the morning. All in all I counted nearly 450 Steppe Eagles, a very respectable number for the time put in.

Scops OwlScops Owl
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I headed south and at the canal near the birdwatching park I ran across a beautiful White-tailed Plover. The bird was rather tame and allowed good close up views.
This is quite an early date for this species. Hopefully this says something about the upcoming spring.

On the morning of March 1, I hiked around Wadi Ketura. This beautiful acacia riverbed holds scattered patches of greenery which held good numbers of passerines. I found 4 Sylvia Warblers with ease, many Sardinian Warblers, several Lesser whitethroats, 2 Cyprus Warblers and a stunning male Rueppell's Warbler. When I exited the wadi I headed north to a patch of open desert where I added a fine Asian Desert Warbler to my Sylvia list. 

Spring is truly in the air, please enjoy the images and stay posted, this promises to be very good spring.

Jonathan Meyrav

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