Israel

3rd March 1982 - 7th March 1982.

3rd March.

After an afternoon flight from Heathrow to Israel, an hour to get through Ben Gurion Airport and a drive west we arrived at Shefayim Gest House late the previous evening.

I was with a mixed group of travel agents and travel writers on an educational tour of Northern Israel, which would focus mainly on wildlife areas, organised by the Israel Tourist Board.

I was up early as it was light enough to birdwatch at 6am, and although it was wet at times, it was mild, so I had an hour or so to explore the local area before breakfast, new birds for me are in bold.

Shefayim is on the coast, but I concentrated on the scrubby areas leading to the shore, seeing Blackbirds, Hooded Crow, 6 Orange-tufted Sunbirds now called Palastine Sunbird, 20+ Chukars, 2 Brown Hares, several Yellow-legged Gulls, 6 Woodlarks, 3 Yellow-vented now called White-spectacled Bulbuls, 4 Stonechats, a Whitethroat, a male Ruppell's Warbler, a Kestrel, 8+ Graceful Warblers, 6 Swallows, 14 Great Tits, a pair of Syrian Woodpeckers, 10 Palm or Laughing Doves, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, a Hoopoe, a Black Redstart and 6 'Italian' Sparrows.

After breakfast we drove north to the fish ponds at Ma'agan Mikhael an excellent place to birdwatch, here we saw 20+ Spur-winged Plovers, 3 Woodlarks, 100+ Black-headed Gulls, 5 Little Grebes, 6 Pied Kingfishers, a Squacco Heron, 2 Kingfishers, around 30 Little Egrets, 4 Moorhens, 3 Cetti's Warblers, 3 Marsh Harriers, a Night Heron, 2 Grey Herons, a Bluethroat, 2 Common Sandpipers, 2 Great Black-headed Gulls, about 20 Little Swifts, House Martins, 4 Palastine Sunbirds, 2 Graceful Warblers, 50+ Teal, a Crested Lark, White Wagtails, a Little Stint, a Swift, a Redshank, a Chiffchaff, 2 Stonechats and a Smyrna or White-breasted or White-throated Kingfisher.

From here we drove north and then east to Ein Hod and Nir Ezion, a woodland area at the foot of Mount Carmel, seeing Chaffinches, a Redstart, 2 Jays, a Syrian Woodpecker, 8 White-spectacled Bulbuls, 2 Sardinian Warblers, 2 Palastine Sunbirds, a Chiffchaff, a Graceful Warbler and 4 Collared Doves.

Then we drove back west to the coast, seeing a Black-winged Stilt and several Cattle Egrets on the way, to visit the grottoes at Rosh HaNikra, where I also saw another Ruppell's Warbler, a Sardinian Warbler, a White-spectacled Bulbul and 2 Graceful Warblers.

It was a short drive south to our overnight hotel at Nahariya, and on a look around the grounds before it got dark I saw a Blackcap, a Graceful Warbler, White Wagtails, Hooded Crows, 5 Chiffchaffs, a Pied Flycatcher, 16+ White-spectacled Bulbuls, a Palastine Sunbird and a Whitethroat.

Photos: Palm or Laughing Dove.

Black-headed Gull at Ma'agan Mikhael.

4th March.

A warm, sunny day with a clear blue sky, a short drive north brought us to Gesher HaZir, a park by the coast, where we saw 3 Hoopoes, a White-breasted Kingfisher, 20+ White-spectacled Bulbuls, 2 Palastine Sunbirds, 2 Robins, a Starling, lots of Goldfinches, a Stonechat, 6 Graceful Warblers, 2 Kestrels, 10 Golden Plover, a Cattle Egret and 2 Song Thrushes.

From there we drove quiet a long way east to Mount Meron, which is a nature reserve, but only saw a Syrian Woodpecker, 2 Sardinian Warblers and a Chukar of note, but there were lots of Crowned Anemones in flower.

Then another long drive northeast, on the way seeing 9 Kestrels, 2 Lapwings, 7 Great Grey Shrikes, 3 eagles - possibly Golden, a Jay and 3 Buzzards.

At HaGoshrim we saw a Serin, a Palastine Sunbird and a White-spectacled Bulbul. 

At Dan there was a Little Grebe, a few Coot, 2 White-breasted Kingfishers, 3 Grey Herons, a Cetti's Warbler, 2 Palastine Sunbirds and 2 Siskins.

Then east to Banias where there were around 20 Cattle Egrets, 2 Cetti's Warblers, 18 Ethiopian Rock Hyraxes, a Graceful Warbler, 2 Swallows, a Serin, lots of Goldfinches, a Black Redstart, 5 Crested Larks, a Corn Bunting and a Wild Cat, which had all the markings and build of one, it was very cautious and didn't stay long, but it could have been a feral or mixed feral/wild cat.

Later, we made our way south, at Kal'at Nimrod we saw a Cirl Bunting, and at a place called Ussishkin House we saw a Barn Owl and 6 Grey Herons.

Our accommodation for the night was Kfar Blum in the Hula Valley, where I saw a Little Owl in the grounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Crowned Anemone.

 

             Ethiopian Rock Hyrax.

5th March.

The first part of the morning was spent viewing the wetland areas near Kfar Blum in the Hula Valley, seeing a Black Stork, 3 White-breasted Kingfishers, a Pied Kingfisher, 18 Grey Herons, 14 Little Egrets, 5 Greater Spotted Eagles, 7 Marsh Harriers, 6 Black Kites, 400+ Coot, 350+ Teal, 50+ Shoveler, 7 Cetti's Warblers, 3 Steppe Eagles, 120+ White Pelicans, a Hoopoe, an Avocet, a Redshank, 7 Spur-winged Plovers, 2 Penduline Tits, about 15 Little Ringed Plovers, around 30 Little Stints, 15+ Dunlin, a Green Sandpiper, an Osprey, a Bluethroat, 3 Swallows and a Stonechat.

At the Hula Nature Reserve we saw 6 Chiffchaffs, 8 Graceful Warblers, 40+ Cetti's Warblers, several White-spectacled Bulbuls, 10+ Stripe-necked Terrapins, 2 Clamorous Reed Warblers hearing lots more, 13 more White Pelicans, a White-breasted Kingfisher, 10+ Cormorants, another Osprey, 300+ Shoveler, a Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Moustached Warblers and a Water Rail.

Leaving here we drove south, on the way seeing lots of Cattle Egrets, 4 Great Grey Shrikes and a Corn Bunting.

At the northern end of the Sea of Galilee we stopped to view the lake, seeing Graceful Warblers, a Clamorous Reed Warbler, 2 Serins, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Black Redstart, a Chiffchaff, 2 Pied Kingfishers, a Kestrel, 6 Great Crested Grebes, a Water Rail, a Grey Heron, Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, a White-breasted Kingfisher, a Whiskered Tern and 5 Little Grebes.

We continued along the eastern side of the lake, stopping at Ein Gev where there were 4 Black-necked Grebes, 20+ Swallows, another Whiskered Tern, a Kingfisher and 100+ Black-headed Gulls, also a Starred Agama.

At Ein Gev Camp Site we saw 4 Lapwing, a Great Tit, 20 Tufted Ducks, 4 more Black-necked Grebes, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Starred Agamas, 2 Spanish Sparrows, a White-breasted Kingfisher and a Swift.

We continued south and visited Hamat Gader Alligator Park near the Jordan border, where there were around 200 alligators and crocodiles, and we also saw a Chiffchaff, a Cetti's Warbler, several Graceful Warblers, several White-spectacled Bulbuls, a Water Rail, about 30 Serins, a Hoopoe, 2 Black Redstarts and 2 Blue Rock Thrushes.

On our drive to Ginosar, tonights accommodation, on the west side of the Sea of Galilee we saw 2 White-breasted Kingfishers and 6 Great Grey Shrikes.

 

Photos: White-spectacled Bulbul.

             Starred Agama.

6th March.

An early morning look around the grounds of the accommodation at Ginosar, on the west bank of the Sea of Galilee, seeing 3 White-breasted Kingfishers, an immature Night Heron, 3 Graceful Warblers and hearing more, Reed Warblers, White-spectacled Bulbuls, 6 Moorhens, a Serin, 4 Pied Kingfishers, 24 Great Crested Grebes, 64 Tufted Ducks, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Black Redstart.

On the long drive south we saw around 50 Little Egrets, 6 Great Grey Shrikes, 2 Pied Kingfishers, lots of Swallows, 2 White-breasted Kingfishers, 2 Graceful Warblers, 7 Chukar, a Stonechat, 2 Spur-winged Plovers, 30+ Swifts, an Alpine Swift and 16 Lesser Kestrels.

Stopping for a break in Jericho we saw 6 Short-toed Eagles, an Egyptian Vulture, 4 Ravens, 3 Fan-tailed Ravens and a Camel.

We continued south to Metzoke Dragot, a hostel set high up in the cliffs overlooking the Dead Sea where we stopped for lunch. 

Nearby in the surrounding desert we saw 22 Tristram's Grackles, a Bonelli's Eagle, an adult and an immature White-crowned Black Wheatear, 250+ Alpine Swifts, a Swift, 2 Rock Martins, a Sand Partridge, a Black Redstart, 2 Brown-necked Ravens, 5 Nubian Ibexes and a flock of around 36 finches which were probably Trumpeter Finches.

Later, we called in at Ein Gedi where there was a Brown-necked Raven and a Blackstart.

Then we went to the mountain palace/fortifications at Masada, some of our party did make the climb, but most of us went up in the cable car.

Here we saw 4 Rock Martins, 16 Tristram's Grackles, 2 Fan-tailed Ravens, 80+ Camels, 5 Blackstarts, 2 Streaked Scrub Warblers, a Short-toed Eagle, a Long-legged Buzzard, a Steppe Buzzard, a Brown-necked Raven, a Desert Lark, 2 White-crowned Black Wheatears and 2 Sand Partridges.

On our way back to Ein Gedi, where we were staying tonight, we stopped at Sulphur Springs by the Dead Sea, seeing a Lesser Whitethroat, a Fan-tailed Raven and a male and female Cyprus Warbler.

 

Photos: White-crowned Black Wheatear.

             Blackstart.

             Streaked Scrub Warbler.

             Cyprus Warbler.

7th March.

Most of the morning in the canyon and desert areas of the reserve at Ein Gedi, seeing 2 Ravens, 10+ Spanish Sparrows, 11 Sand Partridges, 5 Chiffchaffs, a Ruppell's Warbler, 3 Arabian Babblers, a Lesser Whitethroat, 23 Ethiopian Rock Hyraxes, 2 Palastine Sunbirds, 6 Blackstarts, a Graceful Warbler, 2 Rock Martins, 2 White-breasted Kingfishers, 4 Buzzards, a Cetti's Warbler, 20+ Sinai Rock Doves, a Grey Wagtail, a Hoopoe and 4 Fan-tailed Ravens. 

Later we boarded a different vehicle for a drive across the Judean Desert back to Jerusalem, unfortuately part way through the journey it over-heated and we had to stop and wait for the vehicle to cool down before it could be fixed.

On the journey we saw 5 Nubian Ibexes, 2 Buzzards, around 250 White Storks, 8 Rock Martins, 9 Tristram's Grackles, 8 Fan-tailed Ravens, lots of Sand Partridges, 4 Mourning Wheatears, a Blackstart,  several Desert and Crested Larks, 5 Brown-necked Ravens, 6 Kestrels, a Pale Rock Sparrow now called Pale Rockfinch, 2 Lanners, 5 Lesser Kestrels, 2 Camels and a possible distant Bonelli's Eagle. We also saw lots of small lizards, including Bosk's Fringe-toed Lizard and possibly other species.

In Jerusalem we saw a Brambling and 100+ Swifts.

 

 

 

 

Photos: Right: Desert Lark.

 

                         Fan-tailed Raven.

 

             Below: Crossing the Judean Desert.

 

                          Bosk's Fringe-toed Lizard.

Stripe-necked Terrapins at Hula Nature Reserve on 5th March.

© 2014  Nigel Tucker. All rights reserved.

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