31. maaliskuuta 2014

Short day before Champions of the Flyway bird race. 31.3.2014

Today i decided to take easy day and some rest before the bird race tomorrow. I woke up very early and Jände gave me a ride to IBRC bird station. Roni Was there waiting for me and together with him and other volunteer we had great time. Lots of birds came from the nets and helgoland traps. I also saw "one hour snake", which real name could be Palestine Saw-scaled Viper?
After is spend more than five hours there, Erkki came and gave me a ride to hotel Agamim where i met Jonathan to have some chat about the race and our route. When i came back to our hotel and then went to store, i saw two European Rollers flying over the city straight to the North! New Israeli tick for me.
Here is some pics from the day.

Eastern Bonelli´s Warbler.

Israel national bird Hoopoe.

Palestine Saw-scaled Viper

Rueppel´s Warbler.


Thanks to Roni, Yael, Buzz, Matt and Theresa for company.
Now some rest. Let´s see what happens in the race!


30. maaliskuuta 2014

Desert birding in Negev. 30.3.2014

Today we started from Eilat at 03:00 am.. I was super tired but i drove our car. We arrived to Nitzana at 06:00 am and soon after first lights we start to watch birds. First we checked the pools but nothing unusual there. Most of the birds were Little Grebes.

Nitzana pools.

Soon we left to the main area to find some Macqueen´s Bustards and Cream-colored Coursers.
Not long after we arrived to desert zone, Esko found lone Bustard sitting on a ground. But the main even was still coming. Out of nowhere the bustard started to display and looked very odd!! That was amazing, never seen this dance before. Here is some photos of the Bustard.




Soon we continued and i noticed Dutch team photographing something. Can´t remember who that was but some one of us noticed two Cream-colored Coursers running in the desert. Short stop and we were driving again towards other desert places. Lots of birds around, including Arabian Bablers, Spanish Sparrows, Stone Curlew etc.

Spanish Sparrow male.

After three hours all the places were checked and we continued our drive to Sde Boker. Lots of birds there also with nice views of Griffon Vulture, and Tristram´s Starlings.

Art photo of the Tristham´s Starling.

Our last place before North Beach was Mitzpe Ramon where we saw some White-crowned Wheatears and Rock Martins.

Nubian Ibex.

Juvenile White-crowned Wheatear. 

Later we went to the beach, but nothing interesting there. At 8 pm We had official launch of Champions of the Flyway, where we got nice food and there was all the teams having good time.
Tomorrow is last scouting day before the race. Wish us luck!


29. maaliskuuta 2014

Scouting day with experts. 29.3.2014

Today i had very nice scouting for the race with lots of people. Jonathan and Yoav managed whole day guided scouting for every team in the bird race.
We started from hotel agamim and first place was North Beach. We had Striated Heron flying there and possible White-cheeked Tern there with always nice Brown Booby.
After beach we went to check km 20 pools and other places before we had super breakfast at hotel agamim.

Striated Heron.

From hotell we went to Yoatvata to check if the Caspian Plovers would show them selves, but we had to leave without luck. We continued to Neot Smadar where rest of the guys ticked Pied Bushchat, finally. I was there third time and always bird has been there. Other good birds were Masked Shrike and Richard´s Pipit.

Stunning Masked Shrike.

Distant Richard´s Pipit. 

After spending enough time in Smadar, we continued to Ovda where Jonathan spotted small flock of Crowned Sandgrouses. Very nice! Also lots of Northern and Isabelline Wheatears around.

Crowned Sandgrouses.

Soon we continued to some odd mall where was big pool in side of it and there was some birds, maybe Moorhen only worth of mention..
After coffee we went to one of the coolest places so far. Big wadi with lots of bushes and acacias.
Lots of birds including two Ruppel´s Warblers, three Eastern Orphean Warblers, Sardinian Warbler, Scrub Warblers, Blue Throat, Hoopoe, Ortolan Bunting etc.

Blue Throat.

Finally we arrived our last place, to Yotvata sewage. Little Crake, Citrine Wagtails, Little Ringed Plover etc. Great ending. Also we saw very odd looking White Wagtail. Must check some photos, but it haves some features of Baicalensis-race White Wagtail. I´m super interested about this White Wagtail group, so this is very nice. Moore about this bird later.
I want to thank Jonathan Meyrav and Yoav Perlman for the day, we had great fun. Also thanks Matt, backseat yanks and other for great company.
Tomorrow is very early morning, need to go bed.


28. maaliskuuta 2014

Hot day with raptors, again. 28.3.2014

Today was again good only with the raptors. We arrived to mountains quite early and whole time large flocks of Buzzards and some Eagles migrated towards north-east.
We "counted" about 8000 Buzzards, 40 Steppe Eagles, 200 Black Kites, five Lesser-spotted Eagles and surprisingly one Levant Sparrowhawk. Here is some pics from the mountains.
Almost forgot to mention. Other Fins counted about 100 000 raptors from Avrams Pillars! Outstanding number..
Steppe Eagles.

Lesser-spotted Eagle.

Small flock of Buzzards.

After the mountains we tried to twitch Daurian Shrike from Neot Smadar but no luck.. Pied Bushchat was still present showing well when we were there.
We continued our drive to Ketura where we had pair of Namaque Doves and lots of other pigeons.
Next destination was Yotvata where we spend long time trying to find good birds.
Flock of five Lesser Kestrels, Hen Harrier, Arabian Bablers and other birds were nice.

Hen Harrier.

Lesser Kestrel male.

Same species in flight.

Nice birds indeed.
Next stop was IBRC salt pools but nothing special there.. After this we went to the beach to have some sea-watch. In the beach we met Erkki and Roni and other people watching the sea. Brown Booby showed well.

Brown Booby trough my telescope.

Later we went to hotel Agamim to join Champions of the flyway opening night. I introduced our team The Northern Lights and we had good time with other racers. Tomorrow i will join in guided scouting with leading birder Yoav Perlman and Jonathan Meyrav. Let´s hope lots of birds and good species.
More of that tomorrow.
Good night.


27. maaliskuuta 2014

Raptor day. 27.3.2014

This morning we woke up little too late because our alarm clock did not work. Anyway we checked the beach quickly and then went to the mountains. We had very nice 2,5 hours and about 5000 buzzards. 
Other species were less numerous but at least 150 Black Kites, 20 Steppe Eagles, 3 Lesser-spotted Eagles and four Ospreys. 
I also burned my face and now i´m sitting in our hotel having lots of  aloe vera lotions in my face! 

Black Kite.

Steppe Buzzard.

Steppe Eagle.

Booted Eagle.

Later we went to check km19 and km20 pools without any spectacular sighting. After pools we went to Yotvata which was super dead.. We left quickly after dinner. 
After Yotvata  was Ketura where we tried to find Namaque Dove, but no luck this time. Next stop was Lotan where we had nice flock of European Bee-Eaters. 

Bee Eaters.

After all this back to Eilat where we checked public site of bird station and ofira park. 
In park we had Collared Flycatcher and on Tree Pipit. 
Evenign sea-watch was again in North-Beach but nothing special there. 
Now tired and hungry, more text and better photos tomorrow. 


26. maaliskuuta 2014

First full day in Eilat. 26.3.2014

We started from the Eilat mountains and hoped to see some real raptor migration. Some Eagles this time but nothing spectacular. Migration was actually quite slow.

Great looking second calender year Steppe Eagle.

After mountais we checked km19 and km 20 pools. Lots of birds, including new Israeli species for me, Black-necked Grebe. Also Eastern Imperial Eagle showed nicely.
In km20 pools we had nice Greater Sandplover, lots of other waders, Flamingos and lots of Splender-billed Gulls.

Maybe 3rd calender year Eastern Imperial Eagle.

Greater Sandplover.
After pools we drove to Yotvata to have something to eat. Before we even ended our break we got info about Pied Bushchat in Neot Smadar!! Quickly we went back to car and i drove us there.
The bird showed very well and i got some pics of it. Pied Bushchat is MEGA in whole western-palearctic area. This bird is ninth for Israel and only 14th for Wp.
We spend one and a half hours there and lots of people came to look this eastern miracle.
This species was on my wishlist. There is one record from Finland of this species but i had too much work and other things when it was there and i missed it. Also lots of other birds aroudn Neot Smadar.
Female Pallid Harrier, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Bluethroats, Wryneck etc.


Pied Bushchat. 

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear.

Young Jarkko was also there. Notice weird hand in the photo, not mine.
Later we came back to Yotvata and we checked sewage area there. Lots of Yellow Wagtails, one Citrine Wagtail and Ruppel´s Warbler female and Bluethroats.

Red-spotted Bluethroat.

Masked Shrike.

At the evening we had nice sea-watch with other Finnish guys. Big flocks of Garganeys, Pallas Gull, three Arctic Skuas, Western Reef Heron, Greater Sandplover, Oystercatchers etc.

Flock of Garganeys.

Very nice day with lifer and some Israeli ticks. My Israeli list is now 330.
More talking tomorrow.


Good to be here again. 25.3.2014

Oh man i waited this! We arrived to Tel Aviv after midnight. After fastest security checks ever here we got our car and slowly started to drive towards South. After few hours sun riced and we had some good stops before Eilat. Nicest birds were Griffon Vulture, White-eyed Duck, Arabian Babler and amazing 5000 White Storks!

I found this Arabian Babler  behind gas station.

Little Grebe.

And here is some photos of magnificent White Stork flock.

White Storks.

More White Storks.

We stopped in Mitzpe Ramon and we found some Rock Martins and Black Starts. Great views from the lookout place.
Mitzspe Ramon.

Later afternoon we arrived to Eilat and we checked few traditional spots before evening.

Feldegg race Yellow Wagtail.

Good to be back. More text next time.


15. maaliskuuta 2014

Champions of the Flyway.

Hello everybody.

Today i got some good news! Our team "The Northern Lights" is participating to Champions of the flyway bird race.
Go check our team The Northern Lights from official Champions of the flyway website. There we have little story about us, why we go there and little presentation about each person in our team.

Champions of the flyway is about racing money for conservation . Every year too many birds dies during their migration by human hand.
Now you have chance to affect by donating HERE.
No matter how big or how small, it all counts!

More info, go Champions of the Flyway.



12. maaliskuuta 2014

Spring birding 12.3.2014

I woke up and noticed great sunny weather. Had to go out and soon i was walking towards nearest water. There is at least two families of House Sparrows living very close my house and i had to took one good photo of handsome male bird.

So good looking bird! 

Not even 500m from my house is little bay from the ocean and there was lots of birds, because some of the ice is already gone. I counted 24 Canada Goose, two Tufted Ducks, 40 Mallards, 30 Common Gulls and one Black-headed Gull. I stopped there for 30 minutes and i got nice pics of Tufted Duck.

My house is just behind those houses. Looks like spring already.

Adult Black-headed Gull. 

Smiling Tufted Duck? It looks funny.

I guess not many adult Black-headed Gulls here at the time, so nice sighting.
I continued my walk along the shore and i noticed two 2cy Common Gulls flying quite near. Some how those are very good looking birds in that age and i waited with my camera if they will show up again.
Out of nowhere this monster came behind the house!

Gosh Hawk! Always nice to see these.

Nice surprise. I walked again and soon i was near Seurasaari. I tried to get some dramatic photos of Black Birds. You can decide how it went.

I think the background is good.

Not many other birds there.. 

Soon i entered to Seurasaari and near the bridge i had finally 2cy Common Gull. It´s not Herring Gull beauty but beauty anyway :)

Almost good photo. 

I walked around the island about 1,5 hours and i found one Winter Wren, one Woodpigeon, some Gold Creasts, lots of Green Finches, some Mute Swans and etc.. Nothing great there this time. Pigeon was my first in 2014.


Still lots of ice around. But hey, its March.

Nice walk and few new species for me for the year.
12 days and we are in Israel! Today i confirmed that we are going to take part of the Champions of the Flyway bird race. Out team will come on their website and you can support us there. More about that later here.
This was my only day off this week, so hear you next week i guess.