Got our cars at 0530 and headed straight towards Ashdod where we were going to meet up with Yoav Perlman for some gulling. Common Myna and Ring-necked Parakeet were both easy on the drive from Tel Aviv to Ashdod. Ashdod is situated right at the Mediterranean Sea and offers very close views of different gull species/subspecies that are very rare in north-western Europe (cachinans, barabensis, heuglini, fuscus and armenicus). We definitely got our gulls on! At the coast we saw the only Pallas Gull of the trip, an adult in summer plumage at sea off Ashdod. Other birds of interest included 2K Pallid Harrier, Rüppels Warbler and Syrian Woodpeckers. Mountain Gazelle and several Harduns were other gems.
From Ashdod we vent to Hulda Reservoir were White-headed Ducks are numerous during the winter. The Reservoir is fairly small and packed with ducks. Other birds of interest included 2 males of Ferruginous Duck and some passage of White Storks. A European Chameleon was a first for everybody except Yoav!
We left Hulda and headed towards Lahar Reserve making a short stop at a local Falaffel Bar recommended by Yoav (it was great). The place was also good for the local race of Jay.
Lahar Reserve is breeding site for Long-billed Pipit and an overwintering site for Finsch’s Wheatear. The pipits are quite easily found on the slopes of the hills – we had 3-4 singing individuals. A male and a female Finch’s Wheatear were seen along the rocky road to the hills. Remember to keep your car in sight during a visit to this area. Yoav told us that cars often get robbed her, so look out for the local shepherd. It is fairly easy to tick of the pipit and have the car in sight though. At Lahar Reserve we also saw our first Golden Jackals (4) of the trip.
It was now late afternoon and we had to get going if we were to see any Nightjars at Neot Hakikar. A small detour to a cliff near the Goral Junction with breeding Lesser Kestrel was successful.
At Neot Hakikar Yoav gave a short introduction to the miserable situation of the Nubian Nightjar which is one of the rarest breeding birds in Israel. Spotlighting along the roads and over the fields gave good views of 4 Nubian Nightjars including two seen on ground. Unfortunately they did not stay long enough for us to take any photographs.
We spend the night at the Cycle Inn in the local kibbutz. A short spotlighting walk within the kibbutz produced nothing of interest though everyone agreed that it had been a perfect day to the begin our tour of Israel.
|Armenian Gull (Larus armenicus).|
|Ashdod. The crime scene.|
|Indiana Jones, Lala and Po.|
|Lahar Reserve. Good location for Finsch’s Wheatear (Oenanthe finschii).|
|European Chameleon. A stunning beauty!|
|2K Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)|
|Caspian Gull 3CY (Larus cachinnans)|
|Caspian Gull 2CY (Larus Cachinnans)|
Text RDN and photos SSL