Israel – part one

Palestine Sunbird - common in most of Israel

Palestine Sunbird – common in most of Israel

Emin Yogurtcuoglu and I are currently birding Israel. And what a country that is. It is small and yet it contains tons of interesting birds. So it is a perfect target for a short vacation, where birds have the focus.

Speckled Warbler

Speckled Warbler

Emin and I started with meeting Jonathan Meyrav near the airport. But before we met him we came across a dam with good numbers of ducks – and no less than 14 White-headed Ducks were quite nice.  Jonathan pretty much knows what there is to know about Israeli birding. So he helped us fill our maps with dots, markings and notes about where to go in order to see which species.

Finche's Wheatear

Finche’s Wheatear

The first place we visited was Lahov. It is the southern most breeding area for Long-billed Pipit. We spend a few hours in the area, where we saw Eastern Imperial Eagle, Finche’s Wheatear, Spectaled Warbler, Sibirian Stonechat and Palestine Sunbirds. Eventually Emin say two Long-billed Pipits, but I never caught up with them.

2cy male Speckled Warbler

2cy male Spectaled Warbler

After that we went to Eilat, where we met with Itai – leader for the ringing station. He gave us a ton of good advise and soon we caught up with species like Western Reef Egret, White-eyed Gull, Blackstart, Sand Partridge, Trumpeter Finch and many many other species.

Western Reef Egret 200 meters from the Jordian boarder makes the "Peace" sign...

Western Reef Egret 200 meters from the Jordian boarder makes the “Peace” sign…

Trumpeter Finch male

Trumpeter Finch male

Spur-winged Plover

Spur-winged Plover

Western Reef Egret

Western Reef Egret

Sand partrice a2

Sand Partridge male

Blackstart

Blackstart

Sand Partridge

Sand Partridge

Well, when you’re in the Negev desert you expect dry conditions. Today it was raining cats and dogs most of the day. So target species like Hoopoe Lark, Dunn’s Lark, Temminck’s, Thick-billed and Bar-tailed Lark were not possible today. But hopefully they’ll show up soon.

Silas Olofson

Mogan – always good for something

Ruddy Ducks and two Greater White-fronted Geese

Ruddy Ducks and two Greater White-fronted Geese

It has become warmer during the last few days. On the one hand it is nice, but the beautiful icy-clear sunny weather has been replaced by clouds and rain.

Beautiful rufous Long-legged Buzzard

Beautiful rufous Long-legged Buzzard

My oldest daughter has just had a habitat-test in school. And today there was no school, so we went out the see different habitats – wetlands, lakes, forests – of course with the aim of seeing some birds too.

Linnet - ssp. bella

Linnet – ssp. bella

Mogan Lake was frozen, so the thousands of Teal were gone. Only a few Mallards and Coots were around in an ice-free area.

Ruddy and White-fronted

Ruddy and White-fronted – click to enlarge

But south of the lake was the place to be. A flock of 500 Ruddy Ducks were very impressive and my daughter loved them. As I gave the flock a more thorough check I found two Greater White-fronted Geese in the flock.

Better picture of one of the Greater White-fronted

Better picture of one of the Greater White-fronted

A Great White Egret gave really good views to my daughters delight and it managed to become her favourite bird.

Great White Egret has found a hole in the ice

Great White Egret has found a hole in the ice

Otherwise several Long-legged Buzzards, two Common Buzzards, 5 Hen Harriers, 2 Marsh Harriers and two Peregrine Falcons were also present.

Peregrine

Peregrine

Hen Harrier

Hen Harrier

If this only had been a sunny day...

If this only had been a sunny day…

 

 

Silas Olofson

Nallihan

Peregrine eats a Teal at Nellihan

Peregrine eats a Teal at Nellihan – click to enlarge

I had heard about the Nallihan Bird Paradise. I’ve tried to visit the place with Mustafa before, but we didn’t know exactly where to look, and thus the result was poor. Fortunately Emin showed me on a map a few days ago where to go. And today I went to Nallihan – about 120 km west of Ankara.

Spanish Sparrows with Tree Sparrows

Spanish Sparrows with Tree Sparrows

As soon as I reached the area I was greeted my Spanish Sparrows – always a nice bird to see. But it was only the start.

Ruddy Shelducks on a field

Ruddy Shelducks on a field – click to enlarge

Before I reached the lake-area I passed some plains. And wow… 3000+ Ruddy Shelducks foraging together. That really is quite a sight. But the area really isn’t that beautiful. It is a long lake with mountains on both sites. Around the lake there is extensive farming going on and there is litter everywhere. But there are some big grass islands, where I presume that the birds feel somewhat safe even though a tractor was driving on one of the islands. But these islands and the fact that the lake is sufficiently big to provide the birds with some safety apparently attrack vast numbers of wildfowl.

Vast numbers of ducks

Vast numbers of ducks

My guess is that there were at least 50.000 ducks on the lake.

Teal: 20.000+

Mallard: 20.000+

Pintail: 1000+

Pochard: 500+

Gadwall: 50

Red-crested Pochard: 1

Wigeon: 300+

Common Shelduck: 100

Great Scaup: 1

Tufted Duck: 5

There is a lot of hunting going on in Nellihan. The ducks thus are very shy and even though I stayed in the car they took of 200-300 meters away. Except for the good numbers of ducks I also found 12 Smew – which was a new turkish tick.

Two male Smew

Two males Smew

But the really big surprise were no less than 147 Bewick’s Swans (maybe the largest flock ever seen in Turkey?) and a single juvenile Whooper Swan in one flock. That was not what I had expected.

Part of the 147 Bewick's Swans

Part of the 147 Bewick’s Swans

Juvenile Whooper Swan with Bewick's Swans

Juvenile Whooper Swan with Bewick’s Swans

In suck large flocks of ducks there has to be something weird. And there was. Not a Baikal Teal as hoped for, but both a diluted Teal and a diluted male Pintail were quite interesting birds.

Diluted male Pintail

Diluted male Pintail

Other good records included a White Stork that didn’t wish to go to Africa and an adult Peregrine catching a Teal and eating it close to the car. No doubt I’ll head back there sooner rather than later.

Winter in the forest

Kruper's Nuthatch2

Krüper’s Nuthatch

It is cold. And that means that winter visitors are arriving. One of the winter visitors that I’d really love to find is Pine Bunting. There are about 10 turkish records, but it has to be overlooked. So I went just north of the city of Kazan – about 25 km north of Ankara.

Krüper's Nuthatch

Krüper’s Nuthatch

First I checked a picnic area (Kurtbogaz Dam). It was actually pretty good birding with 10+ Krüper’s Nuthatches that gave very close views. Only sad that this was a dark and cloudy day. Other good birds included two Sombre Tits, tons of Coal Tits and a few Goldcrests.

Coal Tit

Coal Tit

I then went south of the dam in order to find some Yellowhammer flocks that I could check for Pine Buntings. I soon found several loose flock of about 200 Yellowhammers in total, several Bramblings and 1000+ Chaffinches. The flocks were very mobile and it was hard to get any good views – especially due to that fact that turkish fighter jets kept flying over the area.

Pale Yellowhammer and Brambling

Pale Yellowhammer and Brambling

But I didn’t find any adult male Pine Buntings – that’s for sure. But there were a few of those birds with little or no yellow. But those I saw well were all Yellowhammers.

Ad. male Yellowhammer and pale...

Ad. male Yellowhammer and pale…

Pale Yellowhammer

Pale Yellowhammer

Other good birds included Merlin, Firecrest, Goshawk, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Rock Bunting and two Dunnocks.

Firecrest

Firecrest

Krüper's Nuthatch

Krüper’s Nuthatch

Silas Olofson

Happy New Year

Rock Bunting

Rock Bunting – click to enlarge

We returned from Cappadokia a few days ago. The last days there didn’t produce a lot besides the birds mentioned in the previous post. A flock of about 10 Rock Buntings gave really good views at one point and a Rock Nuthatch also put on a show.

Rock Nuthatch

Rock Nuthatch

I started birding a long time ago, but it all became a bit more serious when I started in the “Gymnasium” as a 15-year-old. One of my teachers, Svend Erik Petersen, was a dedicated birder and we did go out quite a lot – and I learned a lot. Svende, as he is called, had a tradition of going out birding every 1st of january and ever since I’ve tried to follow that tradition.

So today I went out for a few hours. And as often before I went to Mogan. It was about zero degrees and foggy. First stop was south of Mogan, where I took a walk. Skylarks and a few Calandra Larks, two Water Pipits, a small flock of Ruddy Shelducks, some Grey and Great White Egrets, Penduline Tit, Corn and Reed Buntings and Linnets were all present. Furthermore Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, several Long-legged Buzzards, a few Common Buzzards, Merlin, Common Kestrel and Peregrine were around.

Cetti's Warbler

Cetti’s Warbler

I then headed to the lake itself. There were about 3000 Teal present, so I checked the flock twice and found two Pintails, a Gadwall, about a hundred Wigeons, two Pochards, three Red-crested Pochards and Mallard. Furthermore two Cetti’s Warblers, a Robin, some Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Chafffinches and Linnets were also around.

Part of a flock of c 3000 Teal

Part of a flock of c 3000 Teal – click to enlarge

All in all it was nice to start the new year with a little birding even though there were no major surprises.

Silas