Monday, April 14, 2014

Spurn 8th-14th

After arriving back from Israel I came through to Spurn on Tuesday 8th, been a decent week, slow at times but plenty of anticipation due to certain rarities further north!

Caught up with plenty of spring migrants, a lifer and 22 new species for Patchwork Challenge 2014!


Blackcap- plenty kicking around now, had 7 in the plum tree at Kew on Thursday feeding on pollen 

3 Goosanders (poss same bird), Brambling flew south, loads of Chiffchaff, plenty of Wheatears, including 3 spring trapped on Clubley's while waiting for the Crag Martin

Handfuls of Sand Martins most days over the weekend flying south with a few Swallows including the first breeders back today, Mistle Thrush over one evening, nice Short-eared Owl kicking about Long Bank, several Whimbrel on the Humber being a nice spring sound, couple of flyover flavas, first singing Willow Warblers, a single Sandwich and Little Terns flying south, 3 Pochards over the sea, a buzzing Tree Pipit, 2 House Martins, a 1w Yellow-legged Gull, Little Ringed Plover and Black-tailed Godwit 'in-off', the British Lifer being 2 Serins, first flying south and dissapearing till couple hours later another/the same flew south into the bushes at the Warren where we thought it was brighter than the first bird which was confirmed when 2 got up and flew north and last one today a cracking male Ring Ouzel.

Great start and forecast looks promising for the foreseeable future!

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Flew out to Tel-Aviv on 23rd March from Luton and stayed in Eliat at the Little Prince Hostel for 10 nights with Ollie Metcalf, Rael Butcher and James Shergold, until we flew back on the evening of the 2nd April. Birding was mainly done within about 40km of Eliat with further distances being covered to go to Nizzana, upto lake Yeruham on birdrace day and we birded around Lahav just North-East of Be'er Sheva on our way back north, with a failed attempt to get to 

Birding was amazing! Birds everywhere and the grounded migrants just kept coming despite it being a poor year for them! Raptors were good, just a bit hard to get your head around a constant stream of 1000's of Steppe Buzzards!

I've decided to be lazy and talk through the trip using the list of birds that I personally saw while there, Ollie is doing a more day by day diary style blog posts here

Egyptian Goose- 1 at IBRCE, 4 at K19
Shelduck- upto 10 seen at K20
Mallard- irregular at K20 more frequent further north
Pintail- large flocks off North Beach, sev birds at K20
Teal- plenty at Lake Yeruham, scattered sightings at K20 etc
Garganey- upto 200 off North Beach, upto 10 at various water bodies
Ferruginous Duck- 3 at K19 early on had moved on by end 
Tufted Duck- upto 8 at K19 just 1 on birdrace day
Chukar- plenty seen in wadis 40km+ north of Eliat
Sand Partridge- seen regularly, easy in Holland Park several territorial males calling plenty
Quail- any random bit of vegetation! no calling birds
Little Grebe- scattered at water bodies
Brown Booby- single of North Beach seen twice
Cormorant- 1 at IBRCE, 5 at K19 on birdrace
Night Heron- several flocks in evening moving north, 1 at IBRCE, 10+ Lake Yeroham
Striated Heron- single flew across North Beach at dawn
Cattle Egret- occasional at K19 etc
Squacco Heron- common in ditches water bodies etc
Western Reef Heron- single white morph around the ditch at North Beach
Grey Heron- several large flocks moved north and on deck at K20 etc
Purple Heron- scattered birds on deck at K19, Lake Yeruham
White Stork- scattered birds on deck at Yotvata etc some huge migrating flocks at Nizzana and Lahav
Black Stork- never the numbers as Whites, upto 6 moving through with raptors none on the deck

Glossy Ibis- 2 flocks of c20 birds noted through K20, plenty around Ma'agan Michael
Spoonbill- 5 adults at IBRCE/K20 
Greater Flamingo- upto 150+ at K20 scattered singles at other saltpans
Griffon Vulture- 40+ at Vulture feeding station near Sde Boker
Egyptian Vulture- 5 different birds through with the raptors in the mountains, c10 at above site
Osprey- about 8 birds seen moving through
Lesser Spotted Eagle- 7 birds moving north one morning and a single on birdrace day
Steppe Eagle- 'commonest' eagle upto 30 moving through in a morning in the mountains

Short-toed Eagle- only about 5 seen moving through
Booted Eagle- 10+ moving north some cracking pale morphs

Black Kite- second most numerous raptor, some interesting eastern looking things

Marsh Harrier- commonest harrier seen daily
Hen Harrier- 3+ seen around Yotvata occasionally
Montagu's Harrier- all 2cy birds at Yotvata, good to see alongside Pallid's
Pallid Harrier- 3 males seen first in mountains about 12 birds in total mainly at Yotvata
Long-legged Buzzard- single went north in with the Steppe's one morning
Steppe Buzzard- 1000's and 1000's seen, constant streams of birds in the mountains!
Sparrowhawk- 1-2 seen most days 
Kestrel- fairly common 5-6 most days
Lesser Kestrel- only 1 male as we watched the Caspian Plover, few more female types not easy though!
Hobby- single seen over IBRCE one evening
Water Rail- 1 at IBRCE 
Little Crake- upto 3 at Yotvata Sewage Works, 1 at K19 and 3 at Lake Yeruham
Moorhen- scattered around water bodies
Coot- plenty at K19 and Lake Yeruham
Purple Swamphen- 1 seen at Lake Yeruham
Crane- very few actually! young birds on deck at Yotvata and Neot Smadar
Avocet- 1 at IBRCE
Black-winged Stilt- good numbers at most water bodies

Stone Curlew- seen at Nizzana at Yotvata heard at night at several sites
Cream-coloured Courser- cracking flock at Nizzana and random bird at K25 on race day

Collared Pratincole- upto 30 seen at Yotvata/K20-19 towards end of trip

Little Ringed Plover- plenty at K20/Sewage ponds
Ringed Plover- plenty at K20
Kentish Plover- upto 40 at K20
Greater Sandplover- 3 different birds at K20, 1 stonking sum-plum male
Grey Plover- 1 at K20
Caspian Plover- stunning male at Yotvata!

Spur Winged Plover- pretty much anywhere wet or a bit green, on roundabout in Tel-Aviv!
Dunlin- upto 15 at K20
Curlew Sandpiper- 1 at IBRCE
Little Stint- commonest 'small' wader at K20 probably 100+ there at any one time
Wood Sandpiper- low numbers at K20 and various sewage pools
Green Sandpiper- abundant at most water bodies
Common Sandpiper- scattered records at Yotvata/North Beach ditch
Redshank- common at K20, interesting to see spotshank like eastern race birds
Spotted Redshank- 2 at K20
Greenshank- plenty at K20 etc
Marsh Sandpiper- upto 40 at K20 
Black-tailed Godwit- flock of 6 and a single limosa at K20
Curlew- single disappointingly short billed at K20 one afternoon
Snipe- couple noted in ditch at K19 etc
Red-necked Phalarope- about 15 seen on and off at K20 as they move through
Ruff- loads everywhere! Flock of 300 at Nizzana sewage pools!
Black-headed Gull- upto about 20 in with Slender Bills at K20
Slender-billed Gull- most abundant gull, 100's at K20
Med Gull- 1 2w at IBRCE
Armenian Gull- 1w on deck at IBRCE, several presumed 2w/3w/ad flying north in evening

Caspian Gull- several 1w moving through with large gulls
Pallas's Gull- 5 1w seen one evening and a single another at IBRCE, awesome!

Baltic Gull- commonest large gulls, plenty of adults moved north in the evening
Heuglin's Gull- second commonest large gull, weird looking first winters!
White-eyed Gull- upto 10 off North Beach in the evening
Sandwich Tern- couple of flocks off North Beach
Gull-billed Tern- singles off North Beach also flock at K20 on deck
Common Tern- present on buoys most of time off North Beach
White-cheeked Tern- 1w off North Beach one morning
Whiskered Tern- single adult around IBRCE 
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse- flock of 4 and 12 seen in flight at Nizzana
Crowned Sandgrouse- flock of 6 feeding on ground near Ovda Airport
Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse- 3 then 6 came into drink at K19 2 evenings when dark!
Rock Dove- about
Namaqua Dove- several pairs seen around K19 and Yotvata
Collared Dove- abundant
Turtle Dove- 3 on birdrace day at Yotvata and just north of Sde Boker
Laughing Dove- abundant
Great Spotted Cuckoo- 1 in Holland Park and 2 chasing each other and calling near Lahav, mad call!
Common Swift- low numbers moving through
Pallid Swift- identified birds seen occasionally
Alpine Swift- single from from Ben Gurion on birdrace day
Hoope- normally several seen each day
Ring-necked Parrakeet- plenty in Eliat and Tel Aviv
Common Kingfisher- seen at North Beach and Lake Yeruham
White-throated Kingfisher- several seen from car on drive to Ma'agan Michael then 2 seen well when we stopped
Pied Kingfisher- single several times at North Beach and K19
Bee-eater- started to pick up towards end of trip upto 20 in a flock moving north
Blue-cheeked Bee-Eater- single moved north through K20, making all 3 Bee-Eater sp in 3 minutes!
Little Green Bee-Eater- stunning birds! pairs seen at various locations
Syrian Woodpecker- single female at Lake Yeruham
Wryneck- present in nearly every bit of vegetation around! Mega views in Ofira Park one afternoon

Oriental Skylark- 3 in the southern circular field at Yotvata
Crested Lark- common
Short-toed Lark- regularly seen, flock of 400+ near Ovda airport one evening
Desert Lark- pairs seen at various desert locations
Bimaculated Lark- 2 along birders track at back of K19 one afternoon
Hoopoe Lark- single seen at Yotvata, cracking bird, really striking in flight!
Sand Martin- a few moving through
Crag Martin- single through the mountains
Rock Martin- suprisingly common in low numbers seen in most habitats
Barn Swallow- most abundant hirrundine moving north
Red-rumped Swallow- low numbers mixed in with Barn Swallows
House Martin- several seen
Tawny Pipit- 4-5 seen at a few different sites
Long-billed Pipit- 1 near Lahav
Richard's Pipit- 1 over Vulture Feeding site and at Neot Smadar
Water Pipit- coutelli seen in plenty of locations

Meadow Pipit- occasional in pipits flocks
Tree Pipit- regular moving through and on deck in Ofira Park

Red-throated Pipit- not as common as expected, seen well at Yotvata
White Wagtail- abundant
Yellow Wagtail- plenty around water, variety of races/intergrades, feldegg, supercilliaris, thunbergi, domobrovski, flava/beema?
Citrine Wagtail- about 6 cracking males between Yotvata and K19

Robin- single in a wadi near Sde Boker
Nightingale- increased towards end of trip, upto 4-5 seen most days in last 3-4 days
Rufous Bush Robin- single seen at Neot Smadar Sewage works hoping round with the Wheatears, awesome!
Black Bush Robin- after dipping bird that Ollie found at Yotvata then managed to bump into a few Finns watching a/the bird 25km south! Nice views, bigger than I was expecting!
Bluethroat- good numbers of red spot in most reedy habitats but also in random wadis, couple white spots as well
Redstart- 6-7 seen towards end of trip, no obvious eastern/ehrenberg's
Black Redstart- single at Ben Guirion on birdrace day
Northern Wheatear- common in most habitats
Isabelline Wheatear- common in most habitats
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear- singles in various locations, good numbers at Nizzana, including stunning black and white male
Mourning Wheatear- 10+ seen by road side in the Ramon crator
Hooded Wheatear- 3 (2 male) at Netafim
White-crowned Black Wheatear- 20+ seen in various wadis
Blackstart- cracking birds pretty common, look blue in certain light!
Desert Wheatear- single male at K65 on the 40 upto Sde Boker
Whinchat- only 1 at Pied Bushchat
Siberian Stonechat- 2 fem types at Yotvata on disappointingly only 1 day!
Pied Bushchat- male seen at Neot Smadar twice

Song Thrush- single in a radom date palm near Eliat, 2 around Ben Gurion and Lake Yeruham
Blackbird- plenty around Sde Boker, pretty random to see!
Rock Thrush- awesome male at Avrona Palms where the Black Bush Robin was
Scrub Warbler- plenty seen in desert habitats
Graceful Prinia- common in more lusher areas, nothing graceful about its call/song!
Blackcap- second commonest sylvia
Whitethroat- very few seen 
Lesser Whitethroat- commonest migrant by far, loads in any bit of habitat
Eastern Orphean Warbler- several in most wadis with migrants
Sardinian Warbler- 1 at Avrona Palms, 2 up near Sde Boker and Nizzana
Ruppell's Warbler- third commonest sylvia! upto 10 in some of the better wadis
Spectacled Warbler- pair seen in Wadi Nekarot
Subalpine Warbler- about 5 different females, all really pale eastern things!
Sedge Warbler- singles at K19 and Yotvata
Savi's Warbler- singing at Yotvata one morning
Cetti's Warbler- singing at Lake Yeruham
Reed Warbler- plenty singing in reeds
Great Reed Warbler- 2 at Lake Yeruham
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler- plenty seen in various locations
Willow Warbler- single in Holland Park towards end of trip
Wood Warbler- 2 on birdrace day at Lake Yeruham and Kibbutz Sde Boker
Eastern Bonelli's Warbler- cracking little birds fairly common but only 1 calling at Avrona Palms
Chiffchaff- commonest phyllosc
Spotted Flycatcher- single at Kittbutz Sde Boker
Semi-collared Flycatcher- elusive male at Ofira Park took a few days to get decent views of
Great Tit- 2 at Lake Yeruham!!!
Penduline Tit- calling at Lake Yeruham
Southern Grey Shrike- 1 seen well at Nizzana, elegans?
Woodchat Shrike- scattered singles at various different sites

Masked Shrike- commonest shrike (still think Woodchats are better!)
White-spectacled Bulbul- common and annoying varying calls!
Palestine Sunbird- not as abundant as expected seen at Yotvata and Holland Park, males are nice in right light!
Arabian Babbler- cool birds bumped into at quite a few places, bigger than expected!
Jay- distinctive atricapillus race seen around Tel-Aviv
Jackdaw- couple kicking round the Long-billed Pipit site
Hooded Crow- regular north of Mitzpe Ramon
Brown-necked Raven- regular pairs in various locations
House Crow- common around Eliat
Tristram's Starling- saw quite a few in various wadis/mountains and around Eliat
Common Myna- plenty around Tel Aviv
House Sparrow- common everywhere
Spanish Sparrow- probably most abundant bird recorded? Big flocks at Yotvata K19 etc as well as migs moving north
Goldfinch- 2 seen near Ma'gan Michael
Greenfinch- several north of Sde Boker
Serin- lots singing at Long-billed Pipit site
Ortolan Bunting- more seen towards end of trip, quite a few moving north 

Hope that wasn't too boring, thought I'd do it a little different, will post about the birdrace day soon!

Thats a total of 200 species and 70 lifers!!!!

See you there next year!