Eilat – Uvda Valley – Ne’ot Hakikkar

Sinai Rosefinch male

Sinai Rosefinch male

We got up early today as our morning target was Sinai Rosefinch. It can be seen in desert mountains, but there are a few places where it is easier to be found. Itai had told us of such a place just north of Eilat.

Sinai Rosefinch male

Sinai Rosefinch male

And finally there was an easy bird after all the difficult ones. After a short while in a wadi just north of Eilat we found a male and a female that gave very good views for a long period.

But we didn’t use much time with the Sinai Rosefinches as we wanted to go to Uvda Valley to search for larks and other stuff.

Mourning Wheatear

Mourning Wheatear

We came to the area a while later. It is quite a big area, so there are many hiding places  for larks. We walked, checked, looked, searched – but we couldn’t find any of our target larks. But that didn’t mean that there were no birds around. About 50 Trumpeter Finches, several Desert Wheatears, three Isabelline Wheatears and a steady flow of migrating Steppe Eagles made the birding quite good.

Mourning Wheatear

Mourning Wheatear

After a while I came across our first Mourning Wheatear and an hour later we had found three different birds.

Mourning Wheatear and a fly

Mourning Wheatear and a fly

But the highlight in Udva were a flock of about 10 Crowned Sandgrouses, that were not shy at all. As long as we stayed in the car they came within 10 meters distance of it. Quite a way to get a lifer.

Male Crowned Sandgrouse

Male Crowned Sandgrouse

Crowned Sandgrouses

Crowned Sandgrouses

Crowned Sandgrouses

Crowned Sandgrouses

Crowned Sandgrouse

Crowned Sandgrouse

We decided to go north to the Judean Desert. On the way there we stopped at K152, where we saw three more Arabian Warblers and finally we also saw a Scrub Warbler. We then headed to Ne’ot Hakikkar. Oded Keynan – a local birder – had promised us to take us on a “nubian nightjar” trip even though it is the worst time of year to go and look for them. So we didn’t really expect to see them. But we came to the area and five minutes  later we saw our first Nubian Nightjar flying around the car – amazing.

Nubian Nightjar - yellow light from the car

Nubian Nightjar – yellow light from the car

Nubian Nightjar of the subspecies ssp tamaricis is very rare. There are about 20 pairs breeding in Israel and a few more in Jordan and maybe a few other places. But in Jordan their habitat is under severe pressure and it might be a question of time before they’re extinct there. Luckily at least their main breeding area in Israel – Ne’ot Hakikkare – has just been turned into a Nature Reserve. So hopefully they birds will not be extinct.

Nubian Nightjar

Nubian Nightjar

It is alway challenging with night-photos, because the birds/the photos colours are determained by the light in the torches. So just check the difference.

Nubian Nightjar - in blue light. Click to enlarge.

Nubian Nightjar – in blue light. Click to enlarge.

Silas Olofson

 

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