Thursday, April 11, 2019

Israel 2019, day three - Ovda and the 'murcans

Crowned Sandgrouse
A very early start and a scouting excursion to the beautiful Ovda valley with a distinctly Nearctic bias - as well as the Mrs, our very lovely friends David, Mike and Trish made up the team and put Yoav and I in a Western Pal minority. Any time with these legends is always quality time well spent, and after a pre-dawn rendezvous at a filling station (comedy petrol-pumping setting the tone for the day) we arrived on the plains just as the sun began to rise.

Flight shot of one of many Pale Rock Sparrows
Of course, the birding and company were great - and of the former, we were treated to plenty of highlights against the backdrop of the desert plains and jagged, peach and black hills. Treats here included plenty of both Spotted and Crowned Sandgrouse (and great, close views of each), a superbly inquisitive Steppe Eagle (see next post), hundreds of Greater Short-toed Larks, Richard's, Tawny and Tree Pipits, dozens of Yellow and White Wagtails, single Citrine Wagtail and Bimaculated Larks, Isabelline, Northern and Black-eared Wheatears, Lesser Kestrels and more.

More sandgrouse action
Enjoying ourselves just a little too much, time was against us and a quick dash around Neot Samadar on the way home didn't do this fantastic site justice, but we still enjoyed Nightingales, Bluethroats, masses of Yellow Wagtails, a few Redstarts, Quails and other common migrants.

The rest of the day was spent further ratcheting up the COTF comms and social media feeds and then attending / working the opening evening ceremony at the IBRCE, with Jackals, Night-herons and Little Bitterns soundtracking the festivities.

Incoming Black-winged Stilt at Neot Samadar
Ah, the flavas..... barely any time with them this trip, but they still illuminated every day...