April

On the Red Sea, huge flocks of ducks gather in preparation for their night migration. They depart north along the Arava Valley at dusk in spectacular flights, often involving thousands of Garganey. On the salt pools, fresh arrivals of wading birds bring flocks of Glossy Ibis, Curlew, Terek and Broad- billed Sandpipers, Collared and Black- winged Pratincoles and sometimes Caspian Plover. Careful checking of the waders at Km. 20 may reveal something special and in 1998, we were lucky enough to find Israel’s second Lesser Sand Plover.

April is perhaps the best month for trying a few selected locations for migrant Egyptian Nightjar, and resident Nubian Nightjar with our local connections. European Nightjar might also be possible hawking around Lotan at night.

Hundreds of European and some Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters pass through Lotan almost every day in April, and a few will stop to rest and feed. Songbirds swarm through every green space, with attractive and sought after species such as Rock Thrush, Red-throated Pipit, Redstart, Nightingale, Thrush Nightingale, Barred, Icterine, Olivaceous, Eastern Bonelli’s and Wood Warblers, Collared and Semi- collard Flycatcher, and Red-backed Shrike. You needn’t look any further than the Kibbutz grounds for many of these migrants, and you may even find something rare such as Black Bush Robin, River Warbler, MenetriesWarbler or Rose-coloured Starling, all of which have occurred in recent years.

The last word of April must go to the Levant Sparrowhawk as most of the world’s population will pass through the Eilot region within a few days. From about the 13th of April, this exciting raptor may be observed in dense, mosquito like swirls almost anywhere over the Arava Valley, and some of them will roost in the trees on Lotan. Another dynamic raptor, Eleonora’s Falcon is more likely in April than at any other time, often being seen with mixed passages of Levant Sparrowhawk and Honey Buzzard.

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