Champions of the Flyway!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Israel 2019, day eleven - goodbye Eilat, hello Hameishar

Pallid Swift, IBRCE
A great day's birding, despite the fact we only got the chance to do so for a couple of hours.... first up was the always wonderful IBRCE early on, sadly for the last time this trip - lots of goodbyes, lots of good birds as always, and lots more great memories added to those already made at this jewel of a reserve.

Masked Shrike, IBRCE
But we were on a tight schedule, and so after dropping off our hire car, we crammed into Yoav's, with hitch-hiker Jochan (from Team Helgoland) on board to make the journey north even more intimate and entertaining...

Graceful Prinia, IBRCE

Hameishar Plains 
We hit the road so soon in order to leave a window of birding opportunity for Hameishar Plains on the way up north - and oh my, am I glad we did. An epic, wild semi-desert landscape with what, for the area, are unusually lush, and extensive flora-rich green patches (on account of the exceptional spring rains) which looked very good for an hour or so's wandering.

Temminck's Lark, Hameishar Plains 
So Yoav, Amity, Jochan, Nadav and I (great to squeeze in a bit more time with the mighty Nadav - live long and sprosser, my friend) piled out of the cars and were immediately blitzed with birds - everywhere. On the more open areas, we had a mind-numbing 600+ Greater Short-toed Larks, 220 (!) Pale Rock Sparrows, a single Temminck's Lark, four singing Lesser Short-toed Larks, 20 Crested Larks, 20 Tawny Ppits and a Red-throated Pipit as well as a huge Spiny-tailed Lizard, Mountain Gazelles and 300 White Storks)....

.... while in the vegetation, we were tripping over passerines - two Siberian Stonechats, two Wrynecks, Ruppells, Eastern Orphean and Spectacled Warblers (as well as the expected clouds of Lesser Whitethroats), 15 Ortolans, 80 Spanish Sparrows, Redstart, Nightingale, and Black-eared and Northern Wheatears ....

.... and there was surely more to be found, but time sadly soon ran out. But what an hour's birding - great birds, habitat, company and migration at full tilt.

Tawny Pipit, Hameishar Plains 
Pale Rock Sparrow, Hameishar Plains