Israel in August

Wild Cat?

Wild Cat?

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.

 

Pink-backed Pelican

Pink-backed Pelican

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…

Pink-backed Pelican

Pink-backed Pelican

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.

Black Francolin

Black Francolin

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.

Pink-backed Pelican

Pink-backed Pelican

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.

White-throated Kingfisher

White-throated Kingfisher

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.

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

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.

Marbled Teal

Marbled Teal

 

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…

Wild Cat?

Wild Cat?

 

Griffon Vulture

Griffon Vulture

 

Golden Jackal

Golden Jackal

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.

Snake-eagle

Snake-eagle

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.

Snake-eagle

Snake-eagle

 

Silas

Inözü vadisi

Masked Shrike

Masked Shrike

Again I’ve been slow to update my blog. But I have been birding a little during the summer. In the end of May I visited Beypazari and Inözü vadisi.

Turtle Dove

Turtle Dove

As always it is a stunning place and the birding is good. The best surprise was more than 500 Rose-colored Starlings migrating through the valley.

Rose coloured Starling

Rose coloured Starling

Another surprise was a gathering of raptors including 20+ Black Vultures, 2 Lammergeiers, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle and Egyptian Vulture.

Lammergeier

Lammergeier

Black Vulture

Black Vulture

Other good birds included Masked Shrike, Turtle Dove, Golden Oriole, Sardinian Warbler and more.

Sardinian Warbler

Sardinian Warbler

Silas

Lesser Flamingos and a hybrid

Lesser Flamingo with broken leg

Lesser Flamingo with broken leg

The last two days I’ve been birding around Kulu. The lake has had a Lesser Flamingo present during the last 4 or more springs and summers.

Two days ago I found a Lesser flamingo with a broken leg. Of course I thought that the bird present for so long time had broken its leg. Obviously it had difficulties foraging and it is probably going to die soon.

Lesser Flamongo with healthy leg

Lesser Flamingo with healthy leg

Yesterday I got quite a surprise. I found the Lesser Flamingo again, but this time the leg was not broken. So obviously there had to be two birds present. And soon I located the bird with the broken leg further off.

Lesser Flamingo

Lesser Flamingo

The bird with the healthy leg was foraging with a Greater Flamingo and another “thing”, which caught my attention.

Lesser Flamingo with a hybrid Lesser x Greater Flamingo

Lesser Flamingo with a hybrid Lesser x Greater Flamingo

Lesser Flamingo with a hybrid Lesser x Greater Flamingo and Greater Flamingo - maybe the family?

Lesser Flamingo with a hybrid Lesser x Greater Flamingo and Greater Flamingo – maybe the family?

The size was between Greater and Lesser and the colour was more pink that Greater Flamingo. Furthermore the bill looked like a mix of Greater and Lesser Flamingo. So it looks like we have a hybrid Lesser x Greater Flamingo around!

 

Silas

Aladaglar

Aladaglar - Demirkazik

Aladaglar – Demirkazik (click to enlarge)

I love this place. Aladaglar. The steep, rough and stunning mountains. And they are full of surprises. Last week proved to be one of those surprise visits.

Wallcreeper

Wallcreeper

Birding in the valleys below Demirkazik gave Red-fronted Serins en mas, 4 Wallcreepers, many cool semirufus Black Redstarts, Kruper’s Nuthatch and White-throated Robins.

White-throated Robin

White-throated Robin

And then the hard thing. A Finche’s Wheatear was foraging close to the car and was properly photographed. All of a sudden I see a bird about 70 meters away. I lift my bins and find the bird right away. It is a large falcon coloured like Café latte with cream on the top. Wow… an adult Saker Falcon feeding on a Asia Minor Souslik. What a view! Only my third ever Saker in Turkey!

Saker Falcon

Saker Falcon

It had been sitting there for more than 5 minutes while watching the Finche’s Wheatear. But when I tried to switch between camera and bins in a maybe not too calm way the Saker took off with its souslik sousage.

I manged to get some blurred take-off shots and later good with again a cloudy sky. What a find!

Wallcreeper

Wallcreeper

In the mountains Caspian Snowcocks gave good views in the scope. The other classics like Rufus Rock Thrush, Snowfinch, Radde’s Accentor, Wild Goat, Wallcreeper and Red-fronted Serin were also seen.

Snowfinch

Snowfinch

The next morning Emli valley was checked again. And believe it or not. A Saker Falcon appeared again. This time far away and only for a short while. But after all good enough to identify and see some details on the bird.

Krupers Nuthatch

Krupers Nuthatch

Other birds in the valley included Scops Owl, Bimaculated Lark, Kruper’s Nuthatch and Red-fronted Serin.

Bimaculated Lark

Bimaculated Lark

Blue Rock Thrush

Blue Rock Thrush

Silas

Goksu

Eleonora's Falcon

Eleonora’s Falcon

Spring birding simply is awesome. Everything can turn up everywhere. Last week a visit to Goksu payed off very well. On the way there a stunning Eleonora’s Falcon was perched on a mast along the road. By far the best views I’ve ever obtained of this awesome falcon.

In Goksu migration was good though not exceptional. Birds like Black Francolin, Graceful Prinia, 5 White Pelicans, 4 Stone Curlews, 11 Bar-tailed Godwits, Montegue’s Harrier and other common stuff.

Montague's Harrier

Montague’s Harrier

The best bird in the delta was a showy Great Sandpiper, that was fouraging on the mutflats.

Greater Sandplover

Greater Sandplover

Greater Sandplover

Greater Sandplover

The best bird in the delta was a showy Great Sandpiper, that was fouraging on the mutflats.

Olive-tree Warbler

Olive-tree Warbler

Later a visit to the southern slopes of the Taurus Mountains gave 3 Olive-tree Warblers, Rueppel’s Warblers, Masked Shrike and Syrian Woodpecker.

Silas

 

April birding

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Again I must confess that I’ve been lazy updating the blog. But all the birds around do no leave too much time for the internet.

White Pelican

White Pelican

Since mid April birding has been awesome. Mogan has contained hundreds of Little Crakes, all the European herons except Little Bittern, lots of wagtails, red-throated pipits and much more.

Stone Curlew

Stone Curlew

For the past week I’ve been birding with Danish friends in central Anatolia. Highlights around Kulu, Beypazari and Sultan Sazligi included Pallas’ Gull 2, Lesser Flamingo, Golden Jackal, Semi-coloured Flycatcher, Caspian Tern, Eagle-owl, Imperial Eagle, Stone Curlew, White Pelican and much more.

Golden Jackal

Golden Jackal

Lesser Flamingo

Lesser Flamingo

It has been very cold and last week it was even snowing in Ankara.

Caspian Snowcock

Caspian Snowcock

We also visited Aladaglar, but the road to the classic Caspian Snowcock place was closed by snow. But it turned out to be our advantage.

Caspian Snowcock

Caspian Snowcock

We found Caspian Snowcock at lower altitude and they gave good views (in a telescope).

Wild Goats

Wild Goats

Rufus Rock Thrush

Rufus Rock Thrush

In a village below Demirkazik we even found 2 Raddes’ Accentors, Rock Thrushes, Snowfich, many Shorelarks, Red-fronted Serins and 4 Wallcreepers.

Radde's Accentor

Radde’s Accentor

Blue Rock Thrush

Blue Rock Thrush

All in all we saw a total of 214 species in a weeks time.

Silas

Spring explosion

White-headed Duck a1

White-headed Duck

A few days ago I took a trip south of Ankara. First stop was Lake Uyuz, where birds like White-headed Duck, Black-necked Grebe and Grey-lag Goose were present.

It was raining, but that is actually a god thing during migration as many birds make landfall. Walking along the reed bed produced Savi’s Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Moustached Warbler, Wood Warbler, Willow Warbler, Little Crakes and Bluethroat.

Wood Warbler

Wood Warbler

Common Nightingale

Common Nightingale

Then I continued to Kulu. Not all the classic birds have arrived yet, but 6 Citrine Wagtails, lots of Red-throated Pipits, 3 Marsh Sandpipers, Spur-winged Plover, 2 Wrynecks, 3 Common Nightingales, Wood Warblers, Collared Flycatchers and Lesser Short-toed Larks were all nice to see.

Wryneck a1

Wryneck

Wryneck mad at a Redstart

Wryneck mad at a Redstart

Then I checked Kozanli. Highlights were Caspian Tern, 6 Collared Pranticoles, Marsh Sandpipers, Gull-billed Tern, Great White Pelican, Wryneck, Little Crakes, Cuckoo, Cattle Egret and much more.

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

At Karacadag Lesser Kestrels have returned to their breeding grounds. About 30 individuals were seen.

Lesser Kestrel

Lesser Kestrel

Silas