Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Israel - update 3 (third time lucky)

I woke up as usual early on today, and had a quick look in at Holland Park. It was a bit breezy, and I quickly decided to go back down to my old favourite - Ofira Park - to see what was about. I parked up and in quick succession a couple of Wrynecks, a Hoopoe and two Cretzschmar's Buntings hopped out. Not bad at all, and though the buntings were skittish, I did manage something on this cracking male.
Cretzschmar's Bunting Ofira Park, Eilat 30th March 2016
Wryneck Ofira Park, Eilat 30th March 2016
Walking around the park even more, and I spotted something black-and-white whizz past in the wind. Thankfully it quickly settled, and it was a cracking (1st-summer) male Semi-collared Flycatcher. Some nice views perched and flycatching, where the extensive white tail sides were nicely seen.

1st-summer male Semi-collared Flycatcher Ofira Park, Eilat 30th March 2016
Picking up Karen from the hotel, we headed up into the Eilat Mountains for an hour or so of raptors - more than yesterday admittedly but largely confined to Steppe Buzzards with the odd Steppe Eagle and an Egyptian Vulture thrown in. Eastern Mourning Wheatear and Tristram's Grackle up there on Mount Yo'ash too.
Steppe Buzzard Eilat Mountains 30th March 2016
After another good breakfast, with a Tristram's Grackle for company, it was off back up route 90 for me. The unfortunate 'need' to see what conceivably is a mega Afrotropical vagrant (or dodgy duck?) meant that the third trip for the Red-billed Teal had to be done. Armed with a bit more info of other sites to check (thanks Yoav!), I pulled up at Iddan sewage works and was greeted by half a dozen Mallard, and with them... half a Red-billed Teal. One of a couple of hybrids that have been in the area.
hybrid Red-billed Teal x Mallard Iddan, Israel 30th March 2016
So I was getting closer... and so to Hatseva again and those two stinky sewage ponds. Nothing, predictably. And it was back towards the main road and taking a track northeast on the east side of the field school to a couple of irrigation ponds. Last throw of the dice for the day. As I got out of the car a couple of ducks flew about - both Teal. This gave me the impetus to start walking and no sooner had I started, and on the first scan, there was the target - the Red-billed Teal! Roosting on the bank, with such an exposed location, it quickly took flight and did a few circuits with five Teal before ditching down where I was able to get some nice views through the heat haze. Whatever the origins, it was a pretty smart bird and those 300km round trip drives from Eilat were all worthwhile. The joys of WP listing!

Red-billed Teal Hatseva, Israel 30th March 2016
Back in Eilat, after a bit more time with the Semi-collared Flycatcher and other bits in Ofira Park, Karen and I headed up to km20 salt pans for the last hour of light. A decent flock of Glossy Ibises cruised in from the south and three Red-necked Phalaropes were new in, but apart from that it was the same line up as yesterday.
Glossy Ibises km20 salt pans, Eilat 30th March 2016
Kentish Plover km20 salt pans, Eilat 30th March 2016

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