As stated before, spring migration has been very different from previous years. I have had the opportunity to speak to several birders who have been here in the past week to get updates as to what has been going on. This time it was with Frank Moffatt, who was here in Lotan for the 12th time. He had been birding around here and here are some of the sightings that he got.
The highlights of the past week have been four independent sightings of a Black Bush Robin in Lotan, Neot Smadar, Ophira Park in Eilat and Holland Park in Eilat. The individual in Ophira park was very approachable, hopping around the restaurant in the park. In Lotan it was for four days, and in Neot Smadar it was seen for at least one day. Dunn’s Lark was seen on the Meishar on two occasions up Route 40 from here. It is especially green this year, and yielded some wonderful surprises. There were also eight Temminck’s Horned Larks at the same location.
Closer to home, at the onion field north of the northern circular field in Yotvata there were a number of Caspian Plovers, up to nine, including four males. This year seems to be a good year for it. In Kilometer 19 at the sewage treatment plant a lutea subspecies of the Yellow Wagtail was sighted. Collared Pratincole could be seen there too.
The valleys around here were the main focus of the migration, and not so much the Kibbutzim themselves. At Ovda Valley there were hundreds of Ortolan Buntings flying around together with Tree Pipits, Bimaculated Larks and Short-toed Larks. This attracted the various Harriers on the hunt. In addition there were Pale Rock Sparrows and about fifty Lesser Kestrels. There were also two sightings of the Red-tailed Shrike, but it was not clear which one of the subspecies it was. There were also a few Crowned Sandgrouse that flew around Kilometer 76, north of Yahel. At the sewage pond of Yahel there was a White-tailed Plover that had been there for several days.
The raptor migration was very impressive in the past week. A team consisting of English, Finnish and Swedish birders had three days of great migration. On two of the days there were an estimated 40,000 raptors that came overhead, and on the third day, there were about 26,000. They consisted mainly of Steppe Buzzards, Black Kites, Black Storks. Among them were several Booted Eagles, Pallid Harriers, at least seven Imperial Eagles. In addition there were two reports of a ringed Verreaux’s Eagle over the Eilat mountains.
On Lotan itself there were the usual Hoopoes that were congregating for a regular fest on the lawns, along with several Wrynecks. A male and a female Namaqua Dove were sighted around the dairy barn and in the small bird reserve south of us. Every evening at dusk we have been witness t between 50 and 100 European Bee-eaters coming overhead.
So far for this time…
David Schoneveld, Licensed Tour Guide