zondag 6 maart 2011

25th of February: Nizzana!

This night we got out of bed around 1.45 am and at 2.15 am we drove away from Eilat, to Nizzana for a full day birding in the Negev. It was a 4 hour journey (with some stops as my father was the only one driving) so at 6.00 we arived at Nizzana. We experienced a beautiful sunrise in the empty desert.
 © Tammo Meijer
Fairly quick we arrived at a place between Ezuz and Nizzana that seemed like a perfect place to stop and look for Maqcueens bustard. We saw a few Dorca's gazelle's here:
After a few minutes of searching through the telescope I found a distant - but nice - displaying Maqcueens Bustard! It showed well for a couple of minutes and then the bird decided that it had displayed enough and walked away from us and was not to be seen again. A few minutes later I discovered 4 Cream-coloured Coursers. We had nice views of these beautiful birds. Now we'd seen the bustard we decided to head to the sewage ponds. We wanted to drive a road but we discovered that the bridge of the road was broken so we had to find another way to the ponds. This place however turned out to be a good place! We had wonderful views of a male Pallid Harrier (of which I was able to take a shot again near the ponds), a singing Bar-tailed Larks (probably more) and an impressive Wolf passing by! Furthermore we saw species such as Desert Lark, Brown-necked Raven, lots of Desert and Isabelline Wheatears and some Great grey shrikes. Near Ezuz we had our first displaying Scrub Warbler.
We managed to get to the ponds and while driving towards the ponds we had nice views of Chukars:
And Isabelline Wheatear:
There were lots of birds around near the sewage ponds. We hoped for Spotted and Crowned sandgrouse, we didn't see these species of sandgrouse but we did have good views of Black-bellied Sandgrouses:
Pallid harrier male:
And furthermore we saw quite a few Teals, Marsh Harrier, a very fine Peregrine Falcon (extremely white and 'polished', according to Teun this was some sort of subspecies?), the first Yellow Wagtail of the year, Green Sandpiper, Water pipit and so on. We also had a group of 8 overflying Temminck's Larks. As it was already a bit too late for other sandgrouses and as we had plenty of other things to do (Syrian Serin, Thick-billed Larks etc) we decided to head on southwards again as we had seen almost all of our targets!
On our way to Mizpe Ramon for the Syrian Serins we stopped by at Ein Avedat, to check out the spectacular view of the landscape. Ein Avedat reminded us of the American Grand Canyon! Furthermore we ate at the McDonalds of Ein Avedat, never ate Mac in the desert before :)Here we saw Eqyptian Vulture, confiding Blackstarts, Palestine Sunbirds, Hoopoes etc.
Above my only proper recordshot of this beautiful bird..
As we arrived in the vicnicity of Mizpe Ramon we soon found the famous Footballfield. As we got out of the car we immediatly hear singing serings: Syrian Serins! It turned out to be a group of 21 birds showing very well.
We also had the eastern race of Black Redstart here. Next site we would visit were the Haymeshar plains for Thick-billed Larks. Thanks for the directions of Itai leadings us to the right place! We found a group of +- 50 Thick-Billed Larks, several Trumpeter Finches, some Scrub Warblers and a nice Black-eared Wheatear!
At Grofit, near Yotvata we had a superb Barbary Falcon, a group of 6 Steppe Eagles and a Greater Spotted Eagle.

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