The first two weeks of August were spent on family slash birding holiday in Israel. It is an amazing country and it actually is possibly to combine both birding and family in a reasonably way – ‘cause the distances are short, birds are abundant and locals are eager to give advice.
I was informed by Yoav Perlman about the Pink-backed Pelican lingering at Ein Harod just 45 minutes’ drive from where we stayed. I got permission to use an afternoon looking for the bird. Yoav pointed me to some fishponds in the area where the bird had been seen lately. A pelican on a fish pond – it should be easy…
But when I got there were tons of ponds and they couldn’t been checked from the road. But I got permission from people working there to enter the area. Hundreds of Grey Herons, Black and White Storks, Little Egrets, returning shore birds, Black Francolins… what a cool place except for the heat.
But I couldn’t find any pelicans. But out of nowhere a guy comes and tells me that the bird sought after by so many before me was last seen further east in the Nahal Herod area. So I hurried over there and started looking. But there are hundreds of fishponds in the area. So it wasn’t easy.
But finally I found some Great White Pelicans and among them there was a dwarf pelican – it looked like it was half the size of less. YES, the pinky was found.
But it wasn’t easy to get closer to the bird as it was in a different section of the fishpond system than me. But after 15 minutes I found an open road and got permission from a friendly local to enter the area.
And the work paid of. The Pink-backed Pelican had decided to spend the night just next to the road – and didn’t care about a car stopping close by. So as the sun set I got to enjoy a lifer.
Another day was used at lake Agamon in the Hula Valley. There you can rent golf cars and have a nice and family-friendly drive around the lake. And when driving you can get really close to many birds.
Along the drive birds like Black-shouldered Kite, White-throated Kingfisher, Spur-winged Lapwings, Clamourous Reed Warbler, White-throated and Pied Kingfishers and much more.
Migration was slowly staring with White Storks arriving and a single Common Crane was also around. But the highlight were four Marbled Teal seen from the northern watch tower.
A visit to Golan and Gamla gave a few Griffon Vultures, a Bonelli’s Eagle and what the local rangers called a genuine Wild Cat. It surely looked wild…
Just before we were heading home new came that the young Bateluer seen earlier in the summer had been relocated. Gert Ottens was helpful about details about were the bird was last seen. So the same day as we were flying out I gave it a shot.
After four hours of searching I located it in the distance west of Gal’on. It was foraging with 4 Snake-eagles and a Hobby, 2 Steppe Buzzards and a Sparrow hawk was also around. It was visible for about 10 minutes before flying north. Due to the distance my pictures of it was worthless, but a Short-toed Snake eagle decided to give amazing views on a pole just next to the road, so I was happy anyways.