Today, I went out with Thomas Krumenacker and Frank Moffatt to bird around Lotan, and in a radius of about 5 kilometers.
We started out around the Lotan wetland, where there were over 60 White Wagtails, about 40 Water Pipits and about 15 Red-throated Pipits. The Green Sandpipers that have been around were still there. The one lone Grey Wagtail we have had for the past four days was hopping between pool no. 1 and pool no. 3. Two Little Ringed Plovers that had been about for days were still there. One Sardinian Warbler was hopping about in the bushes nearby. The Bluethroats are still about, also some which do not have their full plumage. From there, we walked towards the organic garden where we saw a beautiful Ruppell’s Warbler, about 10 Short-toed Larks, and quite a few Chiffchaffs. In addition, the first Blackcaps have arrived here in Lotan. The obligatory House Sparrows and Spanish Sparrows abound, as do the Collared Doves.
[Credit: Photo of Ruppell's Warbler by Daniele Occhiato]
Drove then round the back side to the Lotan fields. We stopped first at the compost pile that was being watered. A few Crested Larks were about, as were some Spur-winged Plovers. We saw another Ruppell’s Warbler at the same site and many more Chiffchaffs and Lesser Whitethroats. A pair of Little Green Bee-eaters was about on the wires too. One Steppe Buzzard was migrating north, as was a Common Kestrel. We spent about an hour and a half there before heading down. Thomas got a report from Jonathan Meirav that there were two Dunn’s Larks and over 350 Thick-billed Larks in Wadi Terashim, in the Meishar. Since this area is a military training area they were kindly asked to leave the area.
We proceeded from the Lotan fields to the Qetura Sewage. At first we did not see much going on, but all of a sudden a variegatus subspecies of the Eastern Stonechat showed up. It had apparently just gotten there and was exhausted. It was quite approachable, and Thomas could take some very good pictures of the bird. Aside from that there were three Red-throated Pipits and two Green Sandpipers. A small group of birders showed up, to whom we showed the stonechat. They told us that there was one Cyprus Wheatear at Qa es-Saéddin (Km 76) at the pumping station. Frank proceeded further south to the Yotvata sewage, and we headed north past Yahel to Km 76. We saw the bird almost immediately, and Thomas got to take a few pictures. It then flew into the fenced-off area of the pumping station, and stayed there for quite a while. Playing the appropriate bird calls did not have much effect, but eventually it did fly to the fence on the other side, and Thomas could get a few good pictures of it. While waiting, we followed a Sardinian Warbler and several Lesser White-throats into one of the bushes.
Meanwhile, Frank saw a male and a female Citrine Wagtail at Yotvata sewage, in the area beyond the ponds, where the run-off goes. There were six Squacco Herons in the reeds, over 30 White Wagtails, one or two Reed Warblers were calling, five or more Bluethroats and over twenty Green Sandpipers. The Palestine Sundbird could be seen quite well. We headed back to Lotan from there for lunch.
There was almost no overhead migration to speak of today, as an easterly wind started to blow, whipping up quite a bit of sand. Temperatures today were about 25 degrees Celsius and clear skies.
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