Weird Spanish Sparrow? Something else?…

I was at Km 76 and saw the following bird. The bill was sparrow-shaped, but the coloration was completely off. The head is rufous, but beside that it was featureless, the tail is of a sparrow. Can anybody venture a guess what this could be. My best guess is a Spanish Sparrow with pigmentation issues, but maybe someone out there has a better idea.

Spanish Sparrow? House Sparrow?

Spanish Sparrow? House Sparrow?

Another picture of the same bird

Another picture of the same bird

 

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Caspian Plovers, Ringers at Lotan and other news

After coming back from a non-birding guiding tour in the north, it is good to be back in the desert. A group of ringers that has been here before is back again for 10 days, and have put up nets in two major locations around Lotan. The days have been up and down, and today I got the chance to take a look at what they were doing.

They were calling it a slow day, with around fifty birds caught. Some highlights today were a Wryneck, an Olivaceous Warbler and a Willow Warbler that was very small.

Wryneck in the hand, Lotan

Wryneck in the hand, Lotan

Olivaceous Warbler, Lotan

Olivaceous Warbler, Lotan

Willow Warbler, Lotan

Willow Warbler, Lotan

In the field, I saw one male and two female Caspian Plovers in the onion field just north of the northern circular field at Yotvata. Previously there had been four males and one female, which means that overnight another female joined the crowd. We are now up to 8 birds that have been seen this spring.

Caspian Plover, depleted onion field, Yotvata

Caspian Plover, depleted onion field, Yotvata

Two female Caspian Plovers, Yotvata, one coming overnight.

Two female Caspian Plovers, Yotvata, one coming overnight.

 

 

 

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Weak migration day…

So we had a weak migration day again here in the environs of Lotan. Just a few Yellow Wagtails were about, and all the species that we would usually expect at this time of the year were not present.

Going down to Yotvata, no luck finding the Black Bush Robin, did hear the Hoopoe Lark off in the distance, but it was apparently too far in Jordanian territory. Did have a cracking pair of Little Green Bee-eaters posing for the camera, and a Masked Shrike.

Little Green Bee-eaters in the dunes near Yotvata

Little Green Bee-eaters in the dunes near Yotvata

Masked Shrike

Masked Shrike

 

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Black Bush Robin again…

Once the Black Bush Robins are around, you get to see them in quite a few areas, this time near the Yotvata sewage works. I was there with three Dutch birders, looking at the Yellow Wagtails that have come in. All of sudden, in the shrubs on the outside of the sewage works was the Black Bush Robin. It presented itself very well, and we could get good photos of it. Also a few other photos.

Black Bush Robin at Yotvata sewage

Black Bush Robin at Yotvata sewage

Squacco Heron and Night Heron

Squacco Heron and Night Heron

Stone Curlews near the border fence, Yotvata

Stone Curlews near the border fence, Yotvata

 

 

 

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Good birding day during a poor spring migration

As said already numerous times, this spring has been far poorer in terms of volume of migration, compared to last year. I have had to work a lot harder to find the birds around here.

Yesterday, a Menetries’ Warbler was seen in the northern section of Qa es-Sa’eddin (Km 76) in the green shrubs near the border fence. The same day, a Turkestan Shrike was seen near the northern circular field at Yotvata.

I went out with five German birders to look for the Pharaoh’s Eagle Owl and the Egyptian Nightjar. After clearing our movements near the border with the military, we went out about 20 minutes after dark. It took all of ten minutes to find the Pharaoh’s Eagle Owl sitting on the sand dunes to the east of the northern circular field. We all had good looks at it in the light of the halogen lamp. I did not have the presence of mind to take my camera out, so no picture. Sorry!!

Our next target was the Egyptian Nightjar. It proved to be a little harder to  find, with reports from previous evenings that it was in  the northern and the southern sections of the Yotvata fields. We looked at two Cape Hares and one Red Fox in the fields, and then went right up to the border. In the light we saw some pale bird flying around, but lost it within seconds. Driving up a few meters further we swept the area with the bright light, and there it was, sitting on the ground. I took a bad picture of it, so enjoy…

Egyptian Nightjar
Egyptian Nightjar

This morning, I went out to Yotvata to look for the Shrike, but no luck. I did have five White Storks at the northern circular field.  At the Yotvata sewage works there were well over 20 Cattle Egrets, ten Little Egrets, two Squacco Herons, one Yellow Wagtail, at least 20 White Wagtails, one female Woodchat Shrike and one juvenile Night Heron. Here are the some of the pictures…

 

Juvenile Night Heron

Juvenile Night Heron

 

White Storks at freshly mowed field in Yotvata

White Storks at freshly mowed field in Yotvata

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Good overhead migration day

I went out to Qa es-Sa’eddin (km 76) again today to see what was going on. A large flock of Spanish Sparrows was about flying intricate patterns, Short-toed Larks in the hunderds, a few Tawny Pipits, a few Pale Rock Sparrows, three Marsh Harriers, and (yesterday afternoon) one Pallid Harrier. In addition, several Black-eared Wheatears, Isabelline Wheatears and Northern Wheatears.

Black Kites coming to drink, Lotan

Black Kites coming to drink, Lotan

Driving back to Lotan, I started seeing evidence of the overhead migration. Of course there are clear skies, but it was a bit windy, which made soaring on thermals a little difficult. We had several thousand Black Kites, several hundred Black Storks, two Booted Eagles, two Egyptian Vultures, at least a dozen Steppe Eagles, thousands of Steppe Buzzards, five Alpine Swifts, ten Common Swifts,  and a large group of European Bee-eaters. 

Steppe Eagle above Lotan

Steppe Eagle above Lotan

 

Two Menetries’s Warblers  were discovered by Barak Granit just west of the Km 20 salt pans, and Frank Moffatt had some Subalpine Warblers in Km 76. These two areas seem to be the hotspots this week. In addition, there were two-three White-tailed Lapwings in the pond between km 19 and 20, one Caspian Plover that was twitched by over a 100 birders (according to Barak Granit),  and one Sooty Gull flying around in Aqaba. Both Barak Granit and James Smith, independently, had seen it, and are both convinced that it is the one. This would be the 5th record for Israel, with the last one seen in 1998.

David

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Slow migration day…

We are having a slow migration day today, with some nice species seen today. On Lotan, there are a large number of Lesser Whitethroats, one Wryneck,  and Rueppell’s Warblers. At Qa es-Sa’eddin (Km 76), two birders, Frank and Brian, saw one Asian Desert Warbler in the northern part of the area, which is greener than the southern.

Wryneck at Lotan swimming pool

Wryneck at Lotan swimming pool

I went out to Nachal Yitro to see whether there was more going on there. The forecast was for sandstorms, and it did not disappoint. I went out beforehand, saw several Pied Wagtails, a White-crowned Wheatear, Mourning Wheatear, and one Desert Lark. Driving in, there were quite a few Trumpeter Finches around, several  Spotted Sandgrouse calling, bit I was unable to locate them despite searching  for them for quite a while.

Trumpeter Finch among desert flowers

Trumpeter Finch among desert flowers

David

 

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Brilliant birding day… Black Bush Robin, Rock Thrush and Mourning Wheatear

Migration has definitely picked up today. The most important news is the beautiful Dark Prince, the Black Bush Robin. I had seen it a few days ago, but today it was displaying beautifully. Shimon from Eilat put out a worm in front of the shrub it was in, and that did the trick. Enjoy the pictures…

Black  Bush Robin at Neot Smadar sewage

Black Bush Robin at Neot Smadar sewage

Black Bush Robin

Black Bush Robin

Black Bush Robin stretching

Black Bush Robin stretching

 

In other news, a Rock Thrush in Wadi Yitro, off Uvda valley and a Mourning Wheatear tending to its young.

Mourning Wheatear and one of its three juveniles

Mourning Wheatear and one of its three juveniles

Rock Thrush

Rock Thrush

Rock Thrush in Nachal Yitro

Rock Thrush in Nachal Yitro

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Migration, but on a small flame…

So we are in the middle of the migratory season, but there are few migrants around.  I went to the Yotvata Sewage and looked around. There were plenty of Pied and Yellow Wagtails around, so I could go and practice identifying the different subspecies. We had the flava, beema and superciliaris subspecies around, and here are a few pictures.

Yellow Wagtail flava

Yellow Wagtail flava

 

 

 

Yellow Wagtail superciliaris

Yellow Wagtail superciliaris

Yellow Wagtail feldegg

Yellow Wagtail feldegg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside from that, a cracking  migrating Woodchat Shrike and one of the many Palestine Sunbirds that can be seen here calling from the top of the trees.

Woodchat Shrike

Woodchat Shrike

Palestine Sunbird

Palestine Sunbird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Lotan, we had two Cretschmar’s Buntings.

Cretschmar's Bunting

Cretschmar’s Bunting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hopefully the migration will pick up…

David

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Who says there is no migration???

As I said, migration is getting underway, but still is quite slow. I did see kettle of over 200 Black Storks that took off from their overnight spot in Jordan at around 7 a.m. At Qa es-Sa’eddin (Km 76) I had large flocks of Short-toed Larks, Northern Wheatears, a few Black-eared Wheatears and Isabelline Wheatears. Still, this is far less than usual.

Black Storks above Lotan

At the Lotan date plantation, I had four Arabian Babblers, the individuals that are always there. Always nice to see how sociable they are. I had one come up very close to the car, investigating what I was doing.

 

Arabian Babbler checking me out

Arabian Babbler checking me out

Going down to the northern circular field at Yotvata, I was reduced to photographing a large flock of Spanish Sparrows making intricate patterns in the sky, for want of other migrants. The Marsh Harrier that is always here was present, too. The southern field had been harvested, so I was expecting to see all kinds of migrants around. But, alas, no luck. Pretty much the only birds around were Crested Larks and Collared Doves.

Spanish Sparrows in the Castor seed field, northern circular field

At Yotvata sewage I hooked up with Jonathan Meyrav and Itai Shani, who were guiding in the framework of the birdwatching festival. We had a cracking Woodchat Shrike posing very well for everyone, as well as a beema Yellow Wagtail. Aside from that there were three Indian Silverbills, and a Rueppell’s Warbler. Behind the sewage there were some Green Sandpipers and Redshanks, nothing really exciting.

The Black Bush Robin was still at the Neot Smadar Constructed Wetlands, but in the bushes behind the site. It would pop out of the bushes for a second, and then remain inside for a long time. It was impossible to photograph it.

David

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