Israel Trip Report


A report of the trip to southern Israel by Adrian Pitches and Tim Cleeves

March 12 -19 2000.


Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
13 together on one fishpond at Neot Hakkikar 18/3

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Several loafing on the fish farm off North Beach 13/3

Little Bittern* Ixobrychus minutus
Excellent views of male and female together at Neot Hakkikar 18/3

Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
At least six emerging from Neot Hakkikar reedbeds after dark 18/3

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Two at Neot Hakkikar fishponds 18/3

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
15 by the dump at Gevulot near Urim (four more at the Drain Cliff) 16/3

Little Egret Egretta garzetta
10 at Neot Hakkikar 18/3; one one-legged bird in the canal, Eilat 13/3

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Recorded at the Eilat ringing station pools, Drain Cliff, Neot Hakkikar.

Black Stork Ciconia nigra
Impressive migration: 708 logged N in three hours on 15/3 above Lotan

White Stork Ciconia ciconia
Dramatic migration through the Negev near Urim: 3000 logged on 16/3

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber
Present throughout at Km 20 North Reservoirs: 175 counted on 13/3

Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
A large flock of c.1000 birds at Km 20 all week.

Teal Anas crecca
Five flushed from sewage ponds near Nizzana 16/3

Pintail Anas acuta
Flock of 220 at Km 20 on 13/3

Garganey Anas querquedula
One at Shizzafon sewage ponds 14/3

Shoveler Anas clypeata
50+ at Km 20 reservoirs on 13/3 and one at Yotvata sewage ponds 14/3

Black Kite Milvus migrans
Peak count of 150 at Gevulot rubbish dump 16/3

Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus
Two pairs over the Ein Avdat gorge + another pair at Sede Boquer 17/3

Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus
Six at Ein Avdat including noisily copulating pair on nest ledge 17/3

Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus
Singles at Ein Avdat on 17/3 and over the Egyptian border on 18/3

Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Singles at Eilat 13/3, Yotvata 15/3 and near Urim 16/3

Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus
A fine male at Kibbutz Lotan 15/3 and ringtails near Urim 16+17/3

Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus
Slow motion flypast by ghostly male bird at Gevulot dump 17/3

Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Singles recorded on the kibbutzim at Lotan, Shizzafon and Gevulot

(Steppe) Buzzard Buteo buteo vulpinus
Peak count of 534 in three hours heading north above Lotan on 15/3

Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus
Singles above Lotan, near Urim, near Shizzafon and at Masada

Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis
Seven N in three hours above Lotan 15/3; singles elsewhere

Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax
Fourth record for Israel, if accepted. A second-calendar-year bird flew low over us and James Smith in the Negev near Urim on 16/3

All three previous records were in the same area

Imperial Eagle* Aquila heliaca
Second-calendar-year bird squabbling with Black Kites, Urim 17/3

Bonelli’s Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus
Pair soaring above Ein Avdat gorge 17/3

Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Recorded most days

Lanner Falco biarmicus
One immature on pylons near Urim 17/3

Saker Falco cherrug
Very pale adult bird flew overhead – then back again – near Urim 16/3

Peregrine Falco peregrinus
Singles (the same bird?) near Urim 16+17/3

Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides
Resident at Kibbutz Lotan – also recorded at Ein Avdat 17/3

Chukar* Alectoris chukar
Covey of 16 birds at Lotan 15/3; singles/pairs in Urim area

Sand Partridge Ammoperdix heyi
Two pairs snacking on apple core and bread, Amram’s Pillars 14/3

Quail Coturnix coturnix
Widespread migrant

Water Rail Rallus aquaticus
Single in Ein Avdat stream 17/3; another Neot Hakkikar 18/3

Little Crake Porzana parva
Good views of three males at Neot Hakkikar fishponds 18/3

Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Recorded at Yotvata sewage ponds, Ein Avdat, Neot Hakkikar

Coot Fulica atra
Recorded at Yotvata, Eilat and Neot Hakkikar

Common Crane Grus grus
Big flocks of family parties in the Negev – 350 counted on 17/3

Houbara (MacQueen’s) Bustard* Chlamydotis undulata macqueenii
One displaying male, Nizzana 16/3 – headless chicken impression

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Present at Km 20 reservoirs, Neot Hakkikar

Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
Six at Km 20 reservoirs 13/3

Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus
Lotan 14/3 (2), Urim 16/3 (2), Gevulot 17/3 (1), Ein Avdat 17/3 (2)

Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor
Two near Nizzana castle 16/3

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Two at Neot Hakkikar 18/3

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
Ones and twos at Km 20 reservoirs – and one in fields at Lotan 18/3

Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultii
Km 20 reservoirs: one on 13/3 and two on 14/3

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
One at Km 20 reservoirs 14/3

Spur-winged Plover Vanellus spinosus

Little Stint Calidris minutus
Ones and twos at Eilat, Km 20 reservoirs, Neot Hakkikar

Dunlin Calidris alpina
One at Km 20 reservoirs 13/3

Ruff Philomachus pugnax
Singles present at most pools

Snipe Gallinago gallinago
Singles at Eilat, Shizzafon sewage ponds, Neot Hakkikar

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
One at Km 20 reservoirs 13/3

Redshank Tringa totanus
Several at Km 20 reservoirs daily

Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
Singles at Km 20 reservoirs on each visit

Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Several at Km 20 reservoirs

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Present wherever there was water including 3 in Ein Avdat gorge 17/3

White-eyed Gull Larus leucophthalmus
Flock of 27 loafing by North Beach fish farm 13/3

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
North Beach and Km 20 reservoirs

Slender-billed Gull Larus genei
North Beach and Km 20 reservoirs – 250 there on 19/3

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus fuscus
10 roosting migrants at Km 20 reservoirs 19/3

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans
North Beach and Km 20 reservoirs

Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse Pterocles lichtensteinii
The dependable pumping station birds – 25 at dusk on 13/3

Crowned Sandgrouse Pterocles coronatus
Bemused flock of 10 at drained sewage ponds west of Shizzafon 18/3

Spotted Sandgrouse* Pterocles senegallus
Flocks of 20 (16/3) and 10 (17/3) in the Negev then 80 at ex-ponds 18/3

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata
Total of 34 birds near Nizzana including a fine male ‘scoped on the deck

Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon Columba livia
Ubiquitous. Truly wild Rock Doves of ssp. palestinae at Ein Avdat ?

Stock Dove Columba oenas
One at Kibbutz Gevulot 17/3

Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto

Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
One heard only at Kibbutz Gevulot 16/3

Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis
Even more ubiquitous

Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
One near Nizzana 16/3 and one in Km 20 acacia grove 19/3

Little Owl Athene noctua
One in Drain Cliff quarry at dusk 16/3 – but no Eagle Owl !

Hume’s Tawny Owl Strix butleri
One tape-lured by Hadoram in Wadi Barak at 23.30 on 18/3

Nubian Nightjar* Caprimulgus nubicus
One spot-lighted by Hadoram at Neot Hakkikar at 19.45 on 18/3

Common Swift Apus apus
Seen most days

Pallid Swift Apus pallidus
Two classic birds low overhead at Neot Hakkikar 18/3

Alpine Swift Apus melba
One c.80 km west of Lotan 17/3

Little Swift Apus affinis
One near Nizzana 16/3 – a vagrant

White-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
Singles at Kibbutz Gevulot 16/3 +17/3 and Neot Hakkikar 18/3

European Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Two at Neot Hakkikar 18/3

Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
Singles over North Beach and the canal at Eilat 13/3

Little Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis cyanophrys
Pairs at Yotvata, Shizzafon and Lotan

Hoopoe Upupa epops
Recorded most days – peak count of 12 in the Negev 16/3

Wryneck Jynx torquila
One in the date palms at Kibbutz Lotan 15/3

Syrian Woodpecker* Dendrocopos syriacus
Two birds frequented the grounds of Kibbutz Gevulot 16-17/3

Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti
Confiding birds at Shizzafon, Ein Avdat, Mitzpe Ramon

Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla
Biggest flock was 17 birds feeding round the “dung hill” at Lotan 15/3

Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens
Heard only flying over at Nizzana 16/3

Crested Lark Galerida cristata

Skylark Alauda arvensis
Big flocks in the Negev and the odd bird at Lotan

Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculata
One in Kibbutz Lotan north fields 18/3

Pale Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne fuligula
Seen every day around human habitation

Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris
Migrants at Shizzafon and Amram’s Pillars 14/3 + 2 at Ein Avdat 17/3

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica
Plenty early on in the week but none after 15/3

House Martin Delichon urbica

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris
Singles at various locations

Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis
One at the Drain Cliff 16/3

Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus
Common around Lotan with 12 favouring the “dung hill” on 18/3

Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta
Two together at both Shizzafon and Yotvata sewage ponds 14/3

Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla flava feldegg
Singles at Shizzafon 14/3 and Lotan 18/3

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
One at Shizzafon sewage pond stream 14/3

White Wagtail Motacilla alba

Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus xanthopygos
Extremely ubiquitous – in every bush

Grey Hypocolius* Hypocolius ampelinus
Adult male relocated at Km 20 greenhouses 19/3

Robin Erithacus rubecula
Kibbutz Gevulot 16+17/3

Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos hafizi?
One at Kibbutz Gevulot 16/3 had supercilium like the Central Asian race

Bluethroat Luscinia svecica cyanecula
Seen most days, particularly around Kibbutz Lotan accommodation

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
Twos or threes most days including a male semirufus at Yotvata 14/3

Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Seen most days with smart samamisicus birds predominating

Blackstart Cercomela melanura
Common in most habitats

Stonechat Saxicola torquata variegata
Pairs seen every day

Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina
The commonest wheatear but becoming scarcer by the week’s end

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Scarce at the beginning of the week but 10 seen 18/3 at Lotan

Cyprus Pied Wheatear Oenanthe cypriaca
A fine male bird in the Negev near Urim 17/3

Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica melanoleuca
Several males of both forms logged daily at first then only one 18/3

Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti
Pair at Nizzana 16/3; three others at various arid locations

Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens
Three birds at Shizzafon 14/3 then one on Egyptian border fence 18/3

Hooded Wheatear Oenanthe monacha
Bizarrely, two separate males at Km 20 reservoirs 13/3 and one at raptor watch point in more typical habitat above Lotan 15/3

White-crowned Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga
A common bird but only logged on three days

Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis
A male in the wadi below our raptor watch point 15/3

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
A female outside our room at Lotan 14/3

Blackbird Turdus merula
Three birds each day at Kibbutz Gevulot

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
Singles at Eilat pumping station, Yotvata and Kibbutz Gevulot

Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti
One heard singing from the scrub inside the Drain Cliff quarry 16/3

Graceful Warbler Prinia gracilis
Common away from the deep desert

Scrub Warbler Scotocerca inquieta
Singles/pairs recorded in arid areas

Savi’s Warbler Locustella luscinioides
One heard reeling in the reedbed at Neot Hakkikar 18/3

Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
One migrant feeding along the stream at Ein Avdat gorge 17/3

Clamorous Reed Warbler* Acrocephalus stentoreus
Several croaking in the Neot Hakkikar reedbeds – one seen well – 18/3

Olivaceous Warbler Hippolais pallida
Singles on 17/3 near Urim and 18/3 at Lotan (bird without a tail)

Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata
A male by the pumping station at Lotan 15/3

Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala

Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax
Good numbers including five on 14/3

Ruppell’s Warbler Sylvia rueppelli
An excellent male at Lotan on the return from breakfast 13/3

Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
Very common all week

Whitethroat Sylvia communis
Only one – at Shizzafon 14/3

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Singles on four days

Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus orientalis
First three birds logged at Yotvata on the final morning 19/3

Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita abietinus
Very common

Arabian Babbler Turdoides squamiceps
Three at Shizzafon 14/3 and two at Ein Avdat 17/3

Great Tit Parus major
Another northern tick at Kibbutz Gevulot – one on 16/3

Palestine Sunbird Nectarinia osea
Several of these dazzling birds seen most days

Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis aucheri
Singles at Kibbutz Lotan reserve 13/3 and Nizzana 16/3

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator
Singles logged on four days

Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus
A male near the Lotan “dung hill” 15/3 then a female at Lotan 19/3

Indian House Crow Corvus splendens
One in Eilat 13/3

Hooded Crow Corvus corone cornix
Common in the Negev

Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis
Common in most desert areas

Fan-tailed Raven* Corvus rhipidurus
Four of these bat-winged corvids around the Masada hill fortress 18/3

Tristram’s Grackle Onychognathus tristramii
Only seen at Masada – at least 10 loitering near litter bins – 18/3

Starling Sturnus vulgaris
The flock at Gevulot dump numbered 60 birds on 16/3

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis

Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus
A flock of 15 of these handsome sparrows at Yotvata 14/3

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Another Kibbutz Gevulot speciality – two on 17/3

Syrian Serin* Serinus syriacus
Some good-sized flocks around. We saw eight at Shizzafon 14/3 and a further six in the desert near the Egyptian border 18/3

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
Ones and twos recorded on three days

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Singles on 13+14/3 at Lotan

Linnet Carduelis cannabina
Small numbers in agricultural areas

Desert Finch Rhodospiza obsolete
Small flocks at Lotan most days

Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus
Flocks of five (always five !) seen at Lotan and Eilat

Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra
Four at Shizzafon 14/3 then 40 near Urim 17/3

Cretzschmar’s Bunting Emberiza caesia
Recorded at Lotan most days with 10 at the “dung hill” 18/3


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