zondag 6 maart 2011

21st and 22nd of February: Arrival and Dead Sea

On monday the 21st my father and I arrived on Tel Aviv Yafo airport at 17.30. After the security check we went with a shuttle bus to the car rental and we picked up our hired car: a Fiat Punto. In the darkness near the car rental I already discovered our first species for Israel: Spur-winged Lapwing. A pair was actively calling and flying around so even in the darkness they were visible. In complete darkness we drove to Ein Boqeq, along the southern part of the Dead Sea. After a 2-3 hour journey in complete darkness we arrived at the Dead Sea, 412 metres below sea level. It was a special trip as we had no idea what kind of landscape we were driving through. While driving along the Dead Sea towards our hotel we already saw our first mammal: a Wolf! The wolf crossed the road and it was clearly visible in our headlights! It was our first wolf ever. We succesfully arrived at our hotel (temperature outside was 24 degrees, what a difference with Holland...). The next morning we awoke with this fantastic view:
The first new birds we saw and heard very loudly were the White-spectacled Bulbuls. Furthermore I saw a lot of Laughing doves, my first Tristram's grackles and Rock Martins and a White Wagtail, Stonechat and a few Chiffs from out our room.
Everyone visiting the Dead Sea area must at least have swum in the sea, so that's what we did at 6.45 in the morning. It was a special experience!
Afterwards we had an extended breakfast. Next we moved northwards towards En Gedi. During this drive we also saw a couple of lifers: the first Little Green Bee-eaters, the first Desert Larks, Blackstarts and Fan-tailed Ravens. We saw a Long-legged Buzzard aswell.
Then we arrived at En Gedi. We visited the stream of David. This was a nice walk into the 'mountains'. Here we saw Palestine Sunbirds, Graceful Prinia's, Arabian Babbler, lots of Fan-tailed Ravens and Rock Martins, a Griffon Vulture, Brown-necked Ravens, fighting Nubexes, Sardinian Warbler, Hoopoe, Grey Wagtail and much more!
 And i've got many more photos....
We proceeded south to Eilat and made a few more stops resulting in some nice species. We stopped at Wadi Mishmar where we drove onto the dirt track leading to the wadi. We stopped halfway and decided to watch some birds. It resulted in several Cyprus Warblers (4-5 birds!), some nice Desert Larks, Great grey Shrike aucheri and again some Fan-tailed Ravens.
 Afterwards we continued on to the south. We stopped some more times, for example at KM 188, where we had a nice singing Clamourous Reed Warbler, several Little-Green bee-eaters and plenty of singing Prinia's. On our way to Eilat we also saw a nice flock of 40 White Storks migrating to the north:
We also stopped some more times for Arabian Warbler, but we weren't lucky, this small stops only resulted in our first Isabelline, Black-eared and Desert Wheatears of the trip.
At Yotvata we saw our first Mourning Wheatear, near the Northern circular field plus a group of 7 migrating  Black Kites. At 17.30 we arrived at the International Birding and Research Centre Eilat where we met Bram, Teun, Re'a Shaish and Roni Vaisanen. We did some swallow catching in the evening resulting in 24 swallows. We also trapped a Cetti's warbler.
And finally we went to bed after a whole day of birding;)

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