9th to 23rd November 1998
A two-week November trip based in Eilat provided the chance to do a bit of birding, while enjoying a relaxing holiday. I had been to Israel twice before, taking part in the Northern Valleys Raptor Survey, so tailored my birding to catch up with several species I had not yet seen in Israel, mainly southern and winter specialities.
According to the Birdwatching Centre, trips to see Hume's Tawny Owl are only organised by Hadoram Shirihai during the spring months when the birds are calling, but all other info is well covered by Dave Gosney's Finding Birds in Israel. There were no major rarities during our stay, and passerine and raptor passage appeared largely to be over.
This report takes the form of a daily log followed by a systematic list of birds recorded during the trip. English names are capitalised in the daily log, and scientific names are given only in the systematic section. Given the apparent rise of the Phylogenetic Species Concept, I attempted to identify as many species as possible down to subspecies level, but in many cases only geographical location was used to determine subspecific identification.
Shirihai's (1996) Birds of Israel is essential reading before a trip to Israel.
Up at dawn to look at the North Beach and wander along the sewage canal. Large numbers of WHITE-EYED GULL, several SLENDER-BILLED GULL and CASPIAN TERNS immediately obvious. A couple of flyover BLACK STORKS were a nice surprise and 22 HOUSE CROWS were in the area. Walking north alongside the canal, a feeding flock of RED-THROATED PIPITS gave excellent views on the short grass by the lagoon (which held a pipit flock for the whole two week period). WHITE WAGTAILS of the race alba were abundant in the area. The scrub opposite the salt pans held very large numbers of abeitinus CHIFFCHAFFS, several BLUETHROATS of indeterminate race, a rubicola STONECHAT and a NORTHERN WHEATEAR. The salt pans produced an adult ARMENIAN GULL, 38 WHITE STORKS, 35 LITTLE STINTS, 15 TEMMINCK'S STINTS, a juvenile GREY PLOVER and 2 PURPLE HERONS.
After breakfast, we spent most of the middle part of the day looking round Eilat, but a light phase BOOTED EAGLE was watched circling low over the town being mobbed by 4 HOUSE CROWS and a PALESTINE SUNBIRD was feeding in the bushes along the seafront. At dusk, I checked the North Beach again, noting 13 LITTLE EGRETS, 40 GREY HERONS, 50 WHITE-EYED GULLS, an OSPREY with a fish, an adult CASPIAN GULL and a CORY'S SHEARWATER.
Another dawn trip to the North Beach produced a flyover flock of 30 TRISTRAM'S GRACKLES. The sewage canal area had a gibraltariensis BLACK REDSTART, 2 GULL-BILLED TERNS, 2 SPUR-WINGED PLOVER, 14 HOUSE CROW, an adult PURPLE HERON, 2 PIED KINGFISHER, 21 BLACK-WINGED STILT and 2 GREENSHANK. The field system to the north-east of the salt pans had 10 LITTLE GREEN BEE-EATERS, a BLUETHROAT, 2 ROBINS, 10 PALE CRAG MARTINS and a BARN OWL, the latter flying over at 0820 (c. 2½ hours after dawn!).
Again we looked around Eilat in the afternoon, visiting the old birdwatching centre which is now the site of the research wing (!) of the IBCE. The new birdwatching centre is located in the blue tourist information building by the garage at Eilot Junction about 2 miles N of Eilat airport along route 90.
After hearing reports (in the UK) that the traditional water pumping station at Eilat had overgrown and no longer had Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse, we checked out the site in the early afternoon. It seemed in good condition, and we noted 6+ BLACKSTART, a PALESTINE SUNBIRD and a phoenicurus COMMON REDSTART.
We woke to find a letter from the tour operator advising us to leave the country following the massing of allied troops in the Gulf of Persia preparing for an attack on Iraq! We decided to stay on and spent most of the day on the beach. I decided to head up to the Water Pumping Station in the evening and settled down about 1645. The first LICHTENSTEIN'S SANDGROUSE flew in at 1705 and by 1725
another 23 had come in to drink, giving excellent views.
We spent the day visiting the underwater observatory and noted nothing out of the ordinary birdwise, although the view from the observatory is absolutely fantastic and we identified Picasso Trigger Fish, Horn Antenna Butterfly Fish, Threadfin Butterfly Fish, Banded Coral Fish and Domino Coral Fish.
A dawn trip produced a CORN BUNTING with the RED-THROATED PIPIT flock and further along the track on the east side of the canal were a BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT with a small flock of WATER PIPIT, 3 ARABIAN BABBLERS single MARSH HARRIER and BLACK KITE. In the field system to the north were a maura STONECHAT, 3 BLUETHROAT, a GREAT WHITE EGRET, an adult PURPLE HERON and a fine male NAMAQUA DOVE watched at close range on the main track by the far greenhouses.
We spent the afternoon at Dolphin Reef where they have a free-swimming group of Bottle-nosed Dolphins and a nice beach. The North Beach that evening had 40 WHITE-EYED GULLS, 12 SLENDER-BILLED GULLS and 4 CASPIAN GULLS.
We picked up a hire car about midday (US$280 for a week's hire) from Budget, and headed straight out to the spring at En Netaphim. We had to park near the top of the track as it plunges very steeply into the wadi and looked awkward to get back out of safely. We had 2 BROWN-NECKED RAVENS, 25 TRISTRAM'S GRACKLE, 7 SCRUB WARBLERS, 2 DESERT LARKS and a WHITE-CROWNED BLACK WHEATEAR.
Up before dawn, I drove to Alaemon Nature Reserve ("kilometre 33") for first light. Parking by the pumping house at the T-junction of the tracks, I explored the desert area between the car and the border fence. I had good views of a BAR-TAILED DESERT LARK about 150m NE of the T-junction for several minutes after which it flew to the area of the car, although I could not relocate it. A male DESERT WHEATEAR and a pale juvenile SOUTHERN GREY SHRIKE showing characters of the race elegans were noted, as was a DORCAS GAZELLE resting in the early morning cool. I then found a HOOPOE LARK feeding alongside and beyond the border fence to the ESE of the T-junction. This bird was very tolerant and gave excellent views for about half an hour until I left. A MOURNING WHEATEAR and SPECTACLED WARBLER were noted in the bushes around the T-junction, but I
couldn't locate any Desert Warblers.
I then moved on to Shizzafon sewage farm, which was crowded with birds. A male HOODED WHEATEAR was perched on the fence; other birds included 5 BLUETHROATS, 2 MOURNING WHEATEAR, hundreds of alba WHITE WAGTAILS, a WHITE-CROWNED BLACK WHEATEAR, 10 feldegg YELLOW WAGTAILS, 5 GREEN SANDPIPER, 4 rubicola STONECHAT, 2 BROWN-NECKED RAVEN and a female SPARROWHAWK. On the way back to Eilat, I stopped at Yotvata where 2 ARABIAN WARBLERS were present in the acacias behind the garage. Also 2 HOOPOE, and an ARABIAN BABBLER there. The sewage farm to the south had a male POCHARD and 15 LITTLE GREEN BEE-EATERS while 120 WHITE PELICANS and a marvellous subadult STEPPE EAGLE overflew.
In the afternoon we visited Timna Valley which has some nicely preserved Egyptian ruins as well as some spectacular scenery. The typical desert birds were present, as were 8 Nubian Ibex, although it was too late in the year for Sooty Falcons, which breed here.
At dawn I visited the wadi just W of Eilat (see Dave Gosney's guide), a traditional site for wintering Striated Scops Owl, but unfortunately without success, noting of interest only a nice adult LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD of the race rufinus. Moving on to Amram's Pillars I managed to dip Sinai Rosefinch as well, although largely due to the hoards of tourist buses which seem to descend on the area from about 0900 onwards. The only birds of note were a couple of heyi SAND PARTRIDGES and several TRISTRAM'S GRACKLES.
We spent the main part of the day snorkelling and sunbathing at Coral Beach. The experience simply cannot be missed on a visit to Eilat. We managed to identify Sohal Surgeon Fish, Blue Tang, Parrot Fish sp, Common Lion Fish (out of this world!), Common Goldfish, Sergeant Major Damsel Fish, Coral Grouper and Trumpet Fish.
We left at 0730 only to find the car had been broken into and the radio stolen! It took us a couple of hours to get a new car and the episode later cost us £99. However, eventually we left for a touristic trip to the Dead Sea. En route we stopped at Yotvata where we had an ARABIAN WARBLER and a late HONEY BUZZARD over. Other birds on the trip were 2 BROWN-NECKED RAVENS at Km100 and a LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD near Hazeva. We arrived at Massada around 1400 and immediately noted 75
FAN-TAILED RAVENS around the fortress. We got excellent views of these birds from the top (we took the cable car up!) of the amazingly well-preserved and historically rich site. A feldeggii LANNER was patrolling around the cliffs here, lots of PALE CRAG MARTINS were around, and a SCRUB WARBLER was something of a surprise around the ruins. After going for a float in the Dead Sea, we drove back, hearing a STONE CURLEW calling from near Km105.
At dawn I went to Amram's Pillars again, enjoying a superb female HOODED WHEATEAR along the approach track, and eventually had a female / immature SINAI ROSEFINCH on the craggy hillside S of the car park. It flew in calling but only gave distant perched views. I then tried the North Reservoirs reached by crossing straight back over the Arava highway on leaving Amram's Pillars. There were many CHAFFINCHES and SONG THRUSHES here, and on the main reservoirs, I had 108 GREATER FLAMINGOES, 7+ WATER PIPITS, 40 PINTAIL, a GREENSHANK, 51 REDSHANK, an adult SLENDER-BILLED GULL and about 50 LITTLE STINT. Around the reservoirs were 2 fine maura SIBERIAN STONECHATS and 12 PALE CRAG MARTINS.
A visit to the Hai-Bar Yotvata Reserve that afternoon was very interesting. They breed many species now extinct in Israel including Arabian Oryx and negevensis Lappet-faced Vulture. The latter unfortunately can now only be seen behind bars in Israel. Notable birds seen on the guided mini safari were a HOOPOE, 2 LITTLE GREEN BEE-EATERS and a juvenile MASKED SHRIKE. A quick visit to the Northern Reservoirs on the way back to show Rebecca the flamingos produced in addition a juvenile GREY PLOVER, 3+ DUNLIN, 2 SANDERLING, a TEMMINCK'S STINT, 2 WIGEON and a NORTHERN WHEATEAR. The North Beach that evening held 45 WHITE-EYED GULLS, 15 SLENDER-BILLED GULLS, 50 GREY HERON, 25 sinensis GREAT CORMORANT, 2 CASPIAN TERN and a CORY'S SHEARWATER.
The second major day trip of the holiday was to Urim, in the Northern Negev. We stopped briefly at Shizzafon sewage farm where we were lucky enough to jam into c. 150 SPOTTED SANDGROUSE flying E along the approach road to Shizzafon at about Km 4. At the sewage farm itself we had 2 GADWALL and 3 GREEN SANDPIPER. After calling in at Mizpe Ramon for refreshments (and noting several Nubian Ibex, two CHUKAR, a SCRUB WARBLER, MOURNING WHEATEAR, WHITE-CROWNED BLACK WHEATEAR and BROWN-NECKED RAVEN), our route took us via the magnificent gorge of En Avdat. At the latter site we searched the cliffs in vain for roosting Eagle Owls, but noted a fine pair of BONELLI'S EAGLE, a BLUE ROCK THRUSH, LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD and 50 ROCK DOVES.
We explored the Urim area for about 3 hours. The whole place is full of birds, and several full days could easily be spent here. The fields E & W of the main road held about 1500 SKYLARK, 50 MEADOW PIPIT, 20 RED-THROATED PIPIT, 2500 STARLINGS, 50 LAPWING, 12 SOCIABLE PLOVER, 20 SPUR-WINGED PLOVER, a FAN-TAILED WARBLER and a CATTLE EGRET. Towards dusk, two huge flocks of sandgrouse passed W of the main road - there were about 700 SPOTTED SANDGROUSE and 4000 PIN-TAILED SANDGROUSE. Six COMMON CRANES overflew at the same time. Raptors were also in abundance here: 87 BLACK KITE, 3 MONTAGU'S HARRIER, 1 SPARROWHAWK, 1 LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD, 17 EASTERN IMPERIAL EAGLE, 4 KESTREL, 1 MERLIN, 1 SAKER and 1 PEREGRINE. The EASTERN IMPERIAL EAGLES gave excellent views low in flight and perched on pylons; while SAKER proved harder, superb views were eventually gained of a juvenile sitting on a pylon by driving along an agricultural track which follows the line of pylons W from the main road. It took the full three hours to locate the SAKER, and this site really needs plenty of time to guarantee seeing this species.
First thing in the morning I went out to the wadi just W of Eilat and to my amazement eventually located a superb STRIATED SCOPS OWL in a large flat-topped Acacia by pylon 6EN. This bird gave very good views, although I did not approach it too closely. Overall, this species had taken about 5 hours of searching and I was overjoyed finally to have clapped eyes on one! I brought Rebecca to have a
look and took several photos of the bird.
After spending the day on the beach, I headed up to Km 50 in the afternoon where I had 2 cracking ARABIAN WARBLERS, a SCRUB WARBLER, 2 WHITE-CROWNED BLACK WHEATEARS, 2 LITTLE GREEN BEE-EATERS and 2 PALESTINE SUNBIRDS.
Last day with the hire car. A dawn visit to the North Beach produced the usual assortment of birds, but striking north alongside the new lagoon, I noticed a fine adult BARBARY FALCON perched on a telegraph pole eating a prey item. The sewage canal had a pale phase WESTERN REEF HERON, an adult PURPLE HERON and 20 RED-THROATED PIPTS. The salt pans held a juvenile GREY PLOVER, 7 MARSH SANDPIPER, 10 RUFF, 30 KENTISH PLOVER and 10 tundrae RINGED PLOVER.
Searching the fields along the way, I drove north along the track to the Northern Reservoirs where I noted a fine aucheri SOUTHERN GREY SHRIKE, a male DESERT WHEATEAR, an orientalis CURLEW and a variegata SIBERIAN STONECHAT. On the SW tip of the reservoirs, I noticed three larks feeding by the base of the embankment. Quickly scoping them, I realised they were ORIENTAL SKYLARKS. I got excellent views until they moved out of sight. I parked up south of the reservoirs where I bumped into Hadoram Shirihai. Subsequently we had the birds fly over uttering their distinctive call. The large melon field there held many CHAFFINCHES, DESERT FINCHES and SKYLARKS, and upon forming a line and walking through the field, Hadoram picked out a splendid BIMACULATED LARK of which we had excellent views on the ground.
A brilliant end to the trip, we took back the hire care and sunbathed away the remaining morning, returning to London on Monday evening.
Trinomials are given wherever birds were subspecifically identified. Each account indicates whether the subspecific identification was made on the basis of geographical distribution or the attributes of the birds in question. It is beyond the scope of this report to discuss subspecific identification, but see
Shirihai (1996) for an in-depth treatment of subspecies occurrence and identification in Israel.
1. Cory's Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea diomedea)
Singles off North Beach 10th & 19th. Identified to subspecies diomedea on the basis of geographic distribution only.
2. White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus)
120 south over Yotvata 16th. Monotypic species.
3. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis)
Common Eilat area, largest count 25. All birds were identified as sinensis based on their attributes.
4. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea cinerea)
Common Eilat area, largest count 50. All birds were identified as cinerea based on their attributes.
5. Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
Five records from the sewage canal area, Eilat. Monotypic species.
6. Great White Egret (Casmerodius albus albus)
Single on the salt pans at Eilat 14th November. Identified to subspecies alba on the basis of geographic distribution only.
7. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta garzetta)
Common Eilat area, largest count 13. All birds were identified as garzetta based on the basis of geographic distribution only.
8. Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis)
Three light phase birds North Beach 14th November, one sewage canal 22nd November. Monotypic species.
9. Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis ibis)
Single Urim 20th November. Identified as ibis based on its attributes.
10. Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)
Two flew inland N up the Arava valley 10th November. Monotypic species.
11. White Stork (Ciconia ciconia ciconia)
Up to 38 birds on Eilat salt pans. These late-staying birds were the remnant of a large flock fed by the IBCE after they turned back during migration over Sinai. Identified to subspecies ciconia on the basis of geographic distribution only.
12. Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber roseus)
Up to 108 on the Northern Reservoirs, 19th & 22nd November. Identified to subspecies roseus on the basis of geographic distribution only.
13. European Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Two Northern Reservoirs 19th November. Monotypic species.
14. Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Two Shizzafon sewage farm 20th November. Monotypic species.
15. Common Teal (Anas crecca crecca)
Two at the sewage farm at Km 40 19th November. Identified as crecca based on their attributes.
16. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos)
Single on the new lagoon 14th November. Identified to subspecies platyrhynchos on the basis of geographic distribution only.
17. Pintail (Anas acuta)
40 Northern Reservoirs 19th November but only 6 there on 22nd. Monotypic species.
18. Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Drake at Yotvata sewage farm 16th November. Monotypic species.
19. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus haliaetus)
Single North Beach 10th November with fish in talons. Identified to subspecies haliaetus on the basis of geographic distribution only.
20. Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)
Single S over Yotvata 18th November. Monotypic species.
21. Black Kite (Milvus migrans ssp.)
Single over Eilat salt pans 14th November, and 87 Urim area 20th November. No birds identified to subspecific level.
22. Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus)
Three ringtails Urim 20th November. Monotypic species.
23. Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus aeruginosus)
Single over Eilat salt pans 14th November. Identified to subspecies aeruginosus on the basis of geographic distribution only.
24. Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus nisus)
Single female Shizzafon Sewage Farm 16th November, one at Urim 20th November. Identified to subspecies nisus on the basis of geographic distribution only.
25. Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus rufinus)
Four scattered records of this uncommon resident (Wadi just outside Eilat 17th, En Hazeva 18th, En Avdat 20th, Urim 20th). All birds were identified as rufinus based on their attributes.
26. Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis orientalis)
Subadult south over Yotvata 16th November. Identified as orientalis based on its attributes.
27. Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)
17 at Urim 20th November. Monotypic species. WORLD TICK.
28. Bonelli's Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus fasciatus)
Pair at En Avdat 20th November. Identified to subspecies fasciatus on the basis of geographic distribution only.
29. Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus pennatus)
Light phase adult over Eilat town on 10th November. It or another over Eilat town on 22nd November. Identified to subspecies pennatus on the basis of geographic distribution only.
30. Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus tinnunculus)
Fairly common. Identified to subspecies tinnunculus on the basis of geographic distribution only.
31. Merlin (Falco columbarius ssp.)
Male at Urim 20th November. Seemingly an intermediate individual between insignis and aesalon.
32. Lanner (Falco biarmicus feldeggii)
A very pale individual of the race feldeggii at Massada 18th November.
33. Saker (Falco cherrug cherrug)
Juvenile perched on a pylon at Urim 20th November. Identified to subspecies cherrug on the basis of geographic distribution only. WORLD TICK.
34. Peregrine (Falco peregrinus peregrinus)
Adult perched on a pylon at Urim 20th November. Identified as peregrinus based on attributes.
35. Barbary Falcon (Falco pelegrinoides ssp.)
Adult of indeterminate race feeding on prey perched on a telegraph pole Eilat sewage canal 22nd November.
36. Sand Partridge (Ammoperdix heyi heyi)
Pair in car park at Amram's Pillars 17th November, pair along approach road to Amram's Pillars 19th November. All birds were identified as heyi based on their attributes.
37. Chukar (Alectoris chukar sinaica)
Two Mizpe Ramon 20th November. Identified to subspecies sinaica on the basis of geographic distribution only.
38. Common Crane (Grus grus grus)
Six flew over the Urim area on 20th November. Identified to subspecies grus on the basis of geographic distribution only.
39. Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus aquaticus)
Single heard along the sewage canal 14th November. Identified to subspecies aquaticus on the basis of geographic distribution only.
40. Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus chloropus)
One at Yotvata sewage farm on 16th November. Identified to subspecies chloropus on the basis of geographic distribution only.
41. Coot (Fulica atra atra)
Six at Yotvata sewage farm and one at Shizzafon seage farm on 16th November. Identified to subspecies atra on the basis of geographic distribution only.
42. Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Up to 21 birds on Eilat salt pans throughout. Monotypic species.
43. Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus saharae)
Singles heard in the northern Arava Valley (18th) and at Urim (20th).
44. Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
One at Shizzafon sewage farm 16th November, about 50 at Urim 20th November.
45. Spur-winged Plover (Vanellus spinosus)
Fairly common in suitable habitat, more further north. Monotypic species.
46. Sociable Plover (Vanellus gregarius)
12 at Urim 20th November in fields about a mile east of the main road.
47. Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Juveniles at Eilat salt pans and the Northern Reservoirs 10th-22nd November.
48. Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula tundrae)
Up to 30 at Eilat salt pans and the Northern Reservoirs throughout. All birds were identified as tundrae based on their attributes.
49. Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus alexandrinus)
Up to 80 at Eilat salt pans and the Northern Reservoirs throughout. Identified to subspecies alexandrinus on the basis of geographic distribution only.
50. Western Curlew (Numenius arquata orientalis)
A single bird of the race orientalis ("Eastern Curlew") was on the Northern Reservoirs on 22nd November. Identified by its striking white underwing and very pale ground colour, the bird was confirmed as an orientalis by Hadoram Shirihai.
51. Common Redshank (Tringa totanus ssp.)
Common. Groups of up to 75 birds in suitable habitat. Several races occur in Israel, and the birds were not studied closely enough to be sure of racial identity.
52. Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis)
Up to 7 birds on Eilat salt pans 14th-22nd November. Monotypic species.
53. Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
1-2 present at Eilat salt pans / Northern Reservoirs throughout. Monotypic species.
54. Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
Two Eilat sewage canal 11th November. Up to 5 at Shizzafon sewage farm 16th & 20th November. Monotypic species.
55. Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Single at Eilat salt pans 10-11th November. Monotypic species
56. Sanderling (Calidris alba)
Two on the Northern Reservoirs 19th November. Monotypic species.
57. Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
Up to 150 at Northern Reservoirs / Eilat salt pans 10th-22nd November. Monotypic species.
58. Temminck's Stint (Calidris temminckii)
15 at Eilat salt pans 10th November. Otherwise, 1-5 birds Eilat salt pans / Northern Reservoirs 10th-19th November.
59. Dunlin (Calidris alpina alpina)
Small numbers at Eilat salt pans and Northern Reservoirs19th-22nd November. Identified to subspecies alpina on the basis of geographic distribution only.
60. Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
10 and Eilat salt pans on 22nd November. Monotypic species.
61. White-eyed Gull (Larus leucophthalmus)
Up to 50 at Eilat north beach throughout. Monotypic species.
62. Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)
Up to 4 at Eilat 12th-14th November. Only adults were identified. Monotypic species. WORLD TICK.
63. Armenian Gull (Larus armenicus)
Single adult Eilat salt pans 10th November. Monotypic species.
64. Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Up to 12 birds around Eilat 10th-22nd November. Monotypic species.
65. Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei)
Up to 15 birds around Eilat 10th-22nd November. Monotypic species.
66. Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida hybrida)
Adult feeding over "North Sewage" on 19th November. Identified to subspecies hybrida on the basis of geographic distribution only.
67. Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica nilotica)
Up to three at Eilat salt pans10th-14th November. Identified to subspecies nilotica on the basis of geographic distribution only.
68. Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia caspia)
Up to 7 birds around Eilat 10th-22nd November. Identified to subspecies caspia on the basis of geographic distribution only.
69. Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Pterocles alchata caudacutus)
Distant views of 4000 birds in flight at Urim on 20th November. About 1 mile W of the main road.
70. Spotted Sandgrouse (Pterocles senegallus)
Flock of 150 over the road about 3Km E of Shizzafon sewage farm early morning 20th November, and a further 700 seen in flight at Urim. Monotypic species. WORLD TICK.
71. Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse (Pterocles lichtensteinii lichtensteinii)
Excellent views of 24 birds that came in to drink at Eilat water pumping station between 1705-1725 on 12th November. Two flying over the wadi just W of Eilat at dusk on 17th. Identified to subspecies lichtensteinii on the basis of geographic distribution only. WORLD TICK.
72. Rock Dove (Columba livia palaestinae)
Apparently genuine birds at En Netaphim (15th), Timna Valley (16th) and En Avdat (20th). Identified to subspecies palaestinae on the basis of geographic distribution only. Feral birds common in non-desert habitats.
73. Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto decaocto)
Abundant in non-desert habitats. Identified to subspecies decaocto on the basis of geographic distribution only.
74. Palm Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis ssp.)
Very common in non-desert habitats. Several forms occur in Israel, and identifications could not be made to subspecific level.
75. Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis capensis)
Crippling views of a male feeding on path by greenhouses on 14th November. Identified to subspecies capensis on the basis of geographic distribution only.
76. Ring-necked Parakeet (Psittacula krameri borealis)
Small numbers around Eilat. Identified to subspecies borealis on the basis of geographic distribution only.
77. Barn Owl (Tyto alba erlangeri)
Single over Eilat fields at 0820h on 11th November. Identified to subspecies erlangeri on the basis of geographic distribution only.
78. Striated Scops Owl (Otus brucei ssp.)
Good views of a single in the wadi just W of Eilat on 21st November. The bird could not be identified to subspecific level. WORLD TICK.
79. Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis rudis)
Fairly common around Eilat, including one fishing some distance out to sea on 12th November.
80. Little Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis cyanophrys)
Fairly common through the area, with groups of up to 15 noted. All birds were identified as cyanophrys based on their attributes.
81. Hoopoe (Upupa epops epops)
Two at Yotvata (16th) and one at the Hai-Bar Yotvata reserve (19th). Identified to subspecies epops on the basis of geographic distribution only.
82. Hoopoe Lark (Alaemon alaudipes alaudipes)
Crippling views of a bird feeding along the border fence ESE of the T-junction at El Alaemon nature reserve ("Kilometre 33"). Very tolerant of observer presence and watched for over half an hour. Identified to subspecies alaudipes on the basis of geographic distribution only. WORLD TICK.
83. Bimaculated Lark (Melanocorypha bimaculata ssp.)
Single feeding and resting in the melon field at the SW corner of the Northern Reservoirs on 22nd November. It could not be identified to subspecies level. WORLD TICK.
84. Bar-tailed Desert Lark (Ammomanes cincturus arenicolor)
Single seen very well just after dawn (at 0620) about 150m NE of T-junction at El Alaemon nature reserve ("Kilometre 33"). Feeding actively then flew towards the pumphouse but could not be relocated. Identified to subspecies arenicolor on the basis of geographic distribution only. WORLD TICK.
85. Desert Lark (Ammomanes deserti isabellinus)
Common desert species. Most birds appeared to be of this race, although the birds at En Avdat may well have been deserti.
86. Crested Lark (Galerida cristata brachyura)
Common in most habitats. Identified to subspecies brachyura on the basis of geographic distribution only.
87. Skylark (Alauda arvensis cantarella)
Small numbers around Eilat throughout, but over 1500 at Urim 20th. Identified to subspecies cantarella on the basis of geographic distribution only.
88. Oriental Skylark (Alauda gulgula ssp.)
Three birds watched feeding from the car at very close range, by the SW corner of the Northern Reservoirs on 22nd November, and then flew over calling. The birds could not be identified to subspecies level. WORLD TICK.
89. Pale Crag Martin (Hirundo obsoleta obsoleta)
Fairly common in most habitats. Identified to subspecies obsoleta on the basis of geographic distribution only.
90. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica ssp.)
Singles at Eilat 12th & 14th November. The birds could not be identified to subspecies level.
91. Black-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava feldegg)
Ten at Shizzafon sewage farm 16th November. All birds were identified as feldegg based on their attributes.
92. White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba & dukhunensis)
Birds of the race alba abundant in all habitats. At least two birds showing the very pale tertials characteristic of dukhunensis were observed at Eilat sewage canal on 10th November.
93. Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis pratensis)
Fairly common species in agricultural habitat. 50 at Urim on 20th. Identified to subspecies pratensis on the basis of geographic distribution only.
94. Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)
Up to 20 birds daily at Eilat salt pans. 20 at Urim on 20th November. Monotypic species.
95. Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta ssp.)
Up to 7 birds at Eilat / Northern Reservoirs throughout.
96. Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens japonicus)
A single bird was with a few Water Pipits on the track just S of the date plantation on 14th November. Identified as japoncus based on its attributes. WORLD TICK.
97. Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthopygos)
Common in all habitats. Monotypic species.
98. Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis aucheri & elegans)
Races separable in the field. Aucheri was an uncommon resident in developed habitats. A juvenile elegans was seen very well at El Alaemon nature reserve ("Kilometre 33") on 16th November. No black in lores, very pale overall and increased white in wing (primary patch and pale-tipped tertials).
99. Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus)
An immature was at Hai-Bar Yotvata nature reserve on 19th November. Monotypic species.
100. European Robin (Erithacus rubecula ssp.)
Two birds of indeterminate race were at Eilat fields on 16th November, while one was at Urim on 20th.
101. Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica ssp)
Common around Eilat and at Shizzafon sewage farm. No birds could be confidently identified to subspecific level.
102. Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros gibraltariensis)
Singles around Eilat 11th-14th November, and one at Shizzafon sewage farm on 16th. All birds were identified as gibraltariensis based on their attributes.
103. Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus phoenicurus)
Odd singles in secondary habitats 11th-14th November. All birds were identified as phoenicurus based on their attributes.
104. Blackstart (Cercomela melanura melanura)
Common in desert and semi-desert areas. Identified to subspecies melanura on the basis of geographic distribution only.
105. Stonechat (Saxicola torquata rubicola, maura & variegata)
Races separable in the field. Rubicola was common in developed habitats. A single variegata was watched from close range at the Northern Reservoirs on 22nd November, while two maura were there on 19th. Another maura was at Eilat fields on 14th November.
106. Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe ssp.)
Singles at Eilat salt pans (10th) and the Northern Reservoirs (19th). Subspecies not determined.
107. Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti deserti)
Singles at Alaemon nature reserve (16th) and Northern Reservoirs (22nd). Bothl birds were identified as deserti based on their attributes.
108. Mourning Wheatear (Oenanthe lugens lugens)
Fairly common desert species. Identified to subspecies lugens on the basis of geographic distribution only.
109. Hooded Wheatear (Oenanthe monacha)
Very good views of a male on the fence of Shizzafon sewage farm on 16th, and a female along the approach road to Amram's Pillars on 19th November. Monotypic species. WORLD TICK.
110. White-crowned Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga ernesti)
Fairly common desert species. Identified to subspecies ernesti on the basis of geographic distribution only.
111. Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius solitarius)
Single at En Advat on 20th November. Identified to subspecies solitarius on the basis of geographic distribution only.
112. Blackbird (Turdus merula syriacus)
Single at Urim on 20th November. Identified to subspecies syriacus on the basis of geographic distribution only.
113. Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos philomelos)
Small numbers around Eilat fields / Northern Reservoirs. Identified to subspecies philomelos on the basis of geographic distribution only.
114. Arabian Babbler (Turdoides squamiceps squamiceps)
Uncommon species in secondary habitats. Observed at Eilat fields and Yotvata. Identified to subspecies squamiceps on the basis of geographic distribution only.
115. Arabian Warbler (Sylvia leucomelaena negevensis)
Two at Yotvata on 16th, and one there on 18th; two by the Arava highway Kilometre 50 post on 21st NOvember. Identified to subspecies negevensis on the basis of geographic distribution only. WORLD TICK.
116. Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla ssp.)
Male in the wadi just W of Eilat on 21st. Could not be identified to subspecies level.
117. Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala ssp.)
Common species in many habitats, although no birds were identified to subspecies level.
118. Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata conspicillata)
Two at the Alaemon nature reserve ("Kilometre 33") on 16th November. Identified to subspecies conspicillata on the basis of geographic distribution only.
119. Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybitus abietinus)
Abundant species in all habitats with vegetation. All birds were identified as abeitinus based on their attributes.
120. Scrub Warbler (Scotocerca inquieta inquieta)
Seven at En Netaphim on 15th, one at Massada on 18th and 1 at Mizpe Ramon on 20th.
121. Fan-tailed Warbler (Cisticola juncidis ssp.)
Single at Urim on 20th November. This area is the intergrade zone between neuroticus and juncidis.
122. Graceful Warbler (Prinia gracilis palaestinae)
Abundant species in secondary habitats. Identified to subspecies palaestinae on the basis of geographic distribution only.
123. Palestine Sunbird (Nectarinia osea osea)
Common species in vegetate semi-desert habitats. Identified to subspecies osea on the basis of geographic distribution only.
124. Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)
Single with Red-throated Pipits at Eilat new lagoon on 14th November. Monotypic species.
125. Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs coelebs)
Common in agricultural habitat around Eilat / Northern Reservoirs. Identified to subspecies coelebs on the basis of geographic distribution only.
126. Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis niediecki)
25 at Urim on 20th November. Identified to subspecies neidiecki on the basis of geographic distribution only.
127. Linnet (Acanthis cannabina ssp.)
10 at Eilat on 10th November and 5 at Mizpe Ramon on 20th. The birds could not be identified to subspecific level.
128. Desert Finch (Rhodopechys obsoleta)
Common in North fields, Eilat, e.g. 35 on 22nd November. Monotypic species.
129. Sinai Rosefinch (Carpodacus synoicus synoicus)
Female / immature type at Amram's Pillar's on 19th November, after several attempts for this species. Identified to subspecies synoicus on the basis of geographic distribution only. WORLD TICK.
130. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus ssp. & biblicus)
Common throughout, but confusing racial variation made identification of individuals very hard, although 50 birds at Massada on 18th were thought to be biblicus.
131. Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis ssp.)
Also common, e.g. 100 Northern Reservoirs 22nd November. No birds could be identified to subspecific level.
132. Tristram's Grackle (Onychognathus tristramii)
Fairly common desert species e.g. 25 at En Netaphim on 15th November, 25 at Massada on 18th, although 30 overflew Eilat town on 11th November. Monotypic species.
133. Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris tauricus)
10 at Shizzafon sewage farm on 16th November, 2500 at Urim on 20th November. Identified to subspecies tauricus on the basis of geographic distribution only.
134. House Crow (Corvus splendens splendens)
Up to 30 birds at Eilat daily. Identified to subspecies splendens on the basis of geographic distribution only.
135. Hooded Crow (Corvus corone sardonius)
100 at Urim on 20th November. Identified to subspecies sardonius on the basis of geographic distribution only.
136. Brown-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis ruficollis)
Singles and pairs observed fairly frequently in all desert areas. Identified to subspecies ruficollis on the basis of geographic distribution only.
137. Fan-tailed Raven (Corvus rhipidurus)
75 at Massada on 20th November. Monotypic species.
Other Species Recorded
138. Painted Lady (Cynthia cardui)
Fairly comon in many habitats.
139. Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus)
Singles in Eilat on 14th and at Urim on 20th Novmber.
140. Trumpet Fish (Fistularia petimba)
12 while snorkelling at Coral Beach on 17th November. WORLD TICK.
141. Coral Grouper (Cephalopolis miniata)
Single while snorkelling at Coral Beach on 17th November. WORLD TICK.
142. Sergeant Major Damsel Fish (Abudefduf saxatilis)
200 while snorkelling at Coral Beach on 17th November. WORLD TICK.
143. Common Goldfish (Anthias squamipinnis)
100 while snorkelling at Coral Beach on 17th November. WORLD TICK.
144. Common Lion Fish (Pterois volitans)
Brilliant views of a beautiful individual while snorkelling at Coral Beach on 17th November. WORLD TICK.
145. Blue Tang (Zebrastoma xanthurum)
10 while snorkelling at Coral Beach on 17th November. WORLD TICK.
146. Sohal Surgeon Fish (Acanthurus sohal)
1 while snorkelling at Coral Beach on 17th November. WORLD TICK.
147. Domino Coral Fish (Chromis caerulea)
Single seen from the underwater observatory on 13th November. WORLD TICK.
148. Banded Coral Fish (Dascyllus marginatus)
3 seen from the underwater observatory on 13th November. WORLD TICK.
149. Threadfin Butterfly Fish (Chastodon aurica)
10 seen from the underwater observatory on 13th November. WORLD TICK.
150. Horn Antenna Butterfly Fish (Heniochus diphreutes)
20 seen from the underwater observatory on 13th November. WORLD TICK.
151. Picasso Trigger Fish (Rhinecanthus assasi)
Single seen from the underwater observatory on 13th November. WORLD TICK.
152. Nubian Ibex (Capra nubiana)
8 in Timna Valley 16th November, 10 Mizpe Ramon 20th November.
153. Dorcas Gazelle (Gazella dorcas)
Good views of a sitting individual early in the morning at Alaemon Nature Reserve ("Kilometre 33"). The Arava valley holds several hundred Dorcas Gazelles. WORLD TICK.
Richard Fuller & Rebecca Webb