Hatzeva and the Judean Desert

Scrub Warbler with nesting material

Scrub Warbler with nesting material

Oded Keynan invited us to stay with him and his family after showing us the superb Nubian Nightjars. We accepted the invitation of course. In the evening he gave us a bunch of information about the area we were in. So we got up early and headed out to the field.

Syrian Serin

Syrian Serin

First we stopped at a point, where Oded had seen Syrian Serins the day before. Unfortunately it started to rain, but when the rain stopped Emin located 8 Syrian Serins in a tree. They flew away almost right after discovering them, but we did get some photos just to document them.

White-crowned Wheatears - adult and 1st year bird together.

White-crowned Wheatears – adult and 1st year bird together.

In the same area we also saw Desert Finches, Scrub Warblers and Sardinian Warblers.

Tristams Grackle

Tristams Grackle

Yoav Perlman called in the morning and said that he would join us for some birding in the Judean Desert. Our targets were Tristams Grackle, Fan-tailed Raven, Striolated Bunting and Cyprus Warbler. Tristams Grackle and the Fan-tailed Ravens we found even before we reached the area, but the last two were more difficult. We only heard Striolated Bunting sing for a while above the valley where we were birding, but we couldn’t locate the bird. And a Cyprus Warbler was flushed a few times, but did not give any satisfying views at all.

Rock Hyraxes and a Sand Partridge

Rock Hyraxes and a Sand Partridge

Yoav had to leave in the afternoon, but we continued birding for a while. Good birds included Scrub Warbler, 5 Griffon Vultures, Hen Harrier (weird to see in the desert), 20+ Sinai Rosefinches, Sardinian Warblers, male Hooded Wheatear and Palestine Sunbirds.

Sinai Rosefinch

Sinai Rosefinch

Hooded Wheatear - young male

Hooded Wheatear

Blackstart

Blackstart

We then decided to check another valley around the Dead Sea where we stayed at a public camping ground untill dusk. And suddenly we heard an owl, two owls, three owls – and they were Hume’s Owls! Wow… a dream bird for us!

Hume's Owl - click to enlarge!

Hume’s Owl – click to enlarge!

This time of year might be the best time of year to observe Hume’s Owls as they are very vocal as they protect their territory. Furthermore they are very curious birds. Especially one of the birds came very close to us several times – down to a distance of less than 8 meters. Truly stunning in deed! And we even managed to get photos!

Hume's Owl

Hume’s Owl

Well, night birding has really impressed us here in Israel. First 5 Egyptian Nightjars, then 3-4 Nubian Nightjars and now 3 Hume’s Owls…

Silas Olofson

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