The migration season is definitely underway, but still slowly. We have had a very hot summer, but although we did not break any records this year, we did have temperatures that topped 45 degrees Celsius, and, different from previous summers, with a relatively high humidity. This pushed the heat index well above the 50 degree mark. Temperatures have started to cool down some. Today, for example, we will have a high of “only”41 degrees.
Walking around for the past few days, I have noticed that the shrike migration is underway. We had a bit of a discussion whether a species that we saw was a Lesser Grey Shrike or a juvenile Masked Shrike in our bird and nature reserve. We decided that it was a Masked Shrike after having a good look at it. During a walk through the acacia wadi to the north-west of Lotan, I was underway with a small group that had a passing interest in birds, so finding birds was not the focus of my hike. We saw half a dozen Red-backed Shrikes among the Blackstarts and the Yellow-vented Bulbuls. The shrikes accompanied us for a part of the way before going elsewhere. I also had a glimpse of what I think was a Syrian Serin, but I cannot be sure of that. Even after an extensive search there was no sight of it again. In this same wadi there were also two Sand Partridges that made their characteristic noise as they were flushed out by our approach.
Coming back from Eilat on non-birding related business I decided to stop at the Km 19 sewage farm and have a look in. There were about a dozen Grey Herons, about a similar number of Little Egrets and one Western Reef Heron in its dark plumage. A few Yellow Wagtails already in their fall plumage were also about. Aside from that the sewage pond was quiet. Within the next month of so, the situation will of course be very different.
I went back to the sewage pond at km 19 the next day, and sat down on the embankment to see what kind of activities are going on. This particular pond is stocked with fish, so there were at least 10 Caspian Terns diving at their prey. The number of Grey Herons had grown, now there were easily 25 individuals. There were three Storks that had arrived, but unfortunately one of them perished. While I was sitting there quietly, a female Namaqua Dove landed not five meters away from me. It sat there for about two minutes before it realized that it was being watched, and took off immediately. I had gotten a report from a non-birder friend who was trying to find out what kind of little bird that was that had a parrot-like tail, with a black head and looked suspiciously like a miniature dove that she had seen in Lotan’s date grove which is situated opposite Park Timna. When I told her that she had seen a male Namaqua Dove, she was very pleased.
I also went to the acacia grove at km 52, just south of Kibbutz Yotvata, near the archaeological remains of a Roman fort from the 3rd to 4th century and British plice station from the 1920’s. It was here that we had seen an Arabian Warbler in the spring. No such luck this time, but I did see a rather noisy Olivaceous Warbler, and three Arabian Babblers.
No appreciable overhead raptor migration to speak of, because it is still very early in the season, but there was one Marsh Harrier that I scared away at km 19.