Sunday, 8 May 2011

Foggy in Israel

Hi all,

I am semi-back to the blog. I enjoyed my briefish break and since I last posted I have had some excellent bird. A trip to Israel was more than a little 'eventful' as I added many species to my world life list bringing it up to 334. So I have finally topped the 300 mark for my world list. Hurray! Now just got to top 300 for my British list (easier said than done). The long staying Pratincole in Lincs appears to have nicked of to Gibraltar Point NNR and I can't justify the costs of going all the way there at the moment, if it summers I will no doubt change my mind.

So here goes for Israel, please note that all totals are not 100% accurate unless it sounds believable. 37 World Ticks in Israel. Now here is a list of what I saw in order of when I saw them:
- Laughing Dove (hundreds)
- Spectacled Bulbul (50+)
- Palestine Sunbird (10-15)
- Tristram's Gackle (30-50)
- Fan-tailed Raven (50?)
- Rock Martin (5-10)
- Blackstart (2-3)
- Egyptian Vulture (only 1 confirmed very distant bird)
- Black Kite (30-40)
- White Crowned Wheatear (1 confirmed)
- Little Green Bee Eater (maybe birds of holiday, just 2)
- Short-toed Eagle (about 20)
- Arabian Babler (4),
- Crested Lark (1 confirmed)
- Namaqua Dove (brief and poor views of one from a moving bus! lol)
- Spur-winged Lapwing (20-30)
- Cattle Egret (hundreds)
- Levant Sparrowhawk (one flock of 8 and 2 other singles, 1 over River Jordon and 1 at Haifa)
- Sardinian Warbler (4 confirmed)
- Lesser Kestrel (3 confirmed, probably a few distant females seen)
- Pallid Swift (single birds on a couple of occasions)
- Roller (1 seen from moving bus, only one seen sadly)
- Bee Eater (8-10 distant birds went past whilst in service station),
- Red-rumped Swallow (10-20)
- Common Myna (5-10 invasive but ticked)
- Syrian Woodpecker (2 birds)
- White Pelican (flock of about 200 + 2 singles on Sea of Galilee)
- Little Swift (10-20)
- Graceful Prinia (5-8)
- Pied Kingfisher (5-10)
- White-throated Kingfisher (5-10)
- Pygmy Cormorant (30-50)
- Black Stork (1! then joined White Storks)
- Night Heron (30-50)
- Clamorous Reed Warbler (1 bird seen in flight and heard singing)
- Golden Oriole (finally! 1 seen in flight)
- Blue Rock Thrush (poor views of 1 male bird)
- Collared Flycatcher (1 bird showed well briefly).

Also 5 Hoopoe’s that took up residence on a piece of park lawn outside the second hotel we stayed at, also had a few other Hoopoe’s on patches of grass in various places. One Hoopoe was in a park in the centre of Jerusalem! Also I had 5+ Whiskered Tern and 6 Purple Heron at the Sea of Galilee. A few Hobby’s and Turtle Doves at various locations scattered about northern Israel. Hundreds and hundreds of White Storks, just all over the place some days when clearly there must have been a big movement on.

2 definite highlights stick out for me:
1) Being about 30ft away and at eye level with a Short-toed Eagle being mobbed by Hooded Crow’s. Just superb!
2) Wandered off the path at a restaurant in Dead Sea area and found 2 Little Green Bee Eater’s. They were flying back and forth about 10ft away catching insects. I had to stand back so I could focus my bins. 

Also I have had 2 excellent new county birds, but that's for another post.

Until next time, Foghorn out!


  1. Hi Andrew
    Some very nice birds there, especially as you weren't on a birding trip as such.

    Interesting that you saw Tristram's Grackle. Canon Henry Baker Tristram was born near Alnwick and spent many years traveling around the Middle East (at various times), and I believe ended his days employed at Durham Cathedral. He came across the grackle near the monastery of Mar Saba which is near the Dead Sea and Bethlehem. You may of course know all of this but many won't.:-) Cheers Brian.

  2. Hi Brian,

    I didn't know any of that actually! Very interesting indeed. They are superb birds.