Lanius Bird Tours
Friendly Affordable Birdwatching Holidays
Spring Migration & Specialities
16th - 24th March 2020
Israel is one of the world's finest migration hotspots, with millions of birds passing along this important corridor annually. Countless passerines find the many Date Palms & Wadis around Eilat and the Arava Valley an irresistible place to rest and feed, and with these come the regular discovery of rare and exciting vagrants. The area is also home to a long list of resident specialities, many of which are difficult or impossible to find elsewhere within the Western Palearctic, and include such sought-after species as Striated Heron, Sand Partridge, Namaqua Dove, Arabian Babbler, Tristram's Starling and Sinai Rosefinch. Additionally, comfortable accommodation and a favourable climate both add to Israel's popularity as a top birding destination.
Afterwards we will head eastwards to our next base overlooking the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth. Along the way we shall make a number of birding stops as we travel through some truly remarkable desert scenery. Birds along our route may include Mourning Wheatear, Tristram's Starling, Blackstart and Syrian Serin. A number of raptors may also be seen, including Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture and if we are lucky Bonelli's Eagle.
During our time here, we will visit a number of different habitats in order to see a wide range of species. In Eilat itself, we can expect to find such targets as Laughing Dove, Palestine Sunbird and White-spectacled Bulbul in the parks and gardens, which often hold a surprising number of passage migrants, including Quail, Wryneck, Red-throated Pipit, Rüppell's, Sub-alpine & Eastern Bonelli's Warblers, Masked Shrike and Cretzschmar's Bunting to name but a few.
Just a short walk away, the Marina should hold Striated Heron, while the nearby North Beach may provide us with Western Reef Heron and White-eyed Gull, as well as House Crow, Pallas's Gull and Pied Kingfisher. From here a gentle stroll along the sewage canal should give us Graceful Prinia and Spur-winged Lapwing, along with the chance of Little Crake, Citrine Wagtail or Bluethroat. Meanwhile, the nearby date plantations should provide us with another much sought-after speciality - the stunning Green Bee-eater and if we are lucky perhaps even Crested Honey Buzzard. One evening we will also look for Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse.
Further afield, the Arava Valley also holds vast areas of rich desert habitat, and we will head out early one morning in search of some of its most sought after residents. Several species of larks make these barren lands their home, including Bar-tailed and Temminck’s Larks, along with the enigmatic Greater Hoopoe-Lark and the nomadic Thick-billed Lark. Other specialities of these deserts include Desert Finch and Trumpeter Finch, while migrating wheatears frequently include Northern, Black-eared and Isabelline. At the same time we will also visit a number of Wadi’s (dry river valleys), which run through the otherwise featureless desert, where we can expect to find Sand Partridge, Rock Martin and White-crowned Wheatear amongst others.
In stark contrast, we will also visit a selection of wetlands, including saltpans, sewage lagoons and freshwater pools. Here Greater Flamingo will be a conspicuous bird, while Squacco and Purple Herons, Cattle Egret and Glossy Ibis are also possible. Waders will also feature heavily and should include large numbers of Little Stint, Kentish Plover, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper and Black-winged Stilt, along with smaller numbers of Collared Pratincole, Greater Sandplover and Marsh Sandpiper. Amongst these many rarities have turned up over the years, including Terek Sandpiper, Caspian Plover and White-tailed Lapwing. Slender-billed Gulls can also be found in good numbers, along with Gull-billed Tern and Garganey.
Another important habitat in the Arava Valley is acacia scrub, with perhaps the best known area being found at Yotvata, and it is here we stand our best chance of finding the much sought-after Black Scrub Robin and Namaqua Dove. Yotvata also provides areas of irrigated fields, sewage pools and date plantations, which attract large numbers of pipits, wagtails and larks, which in turn regularly attract raptors such as Pallid Harrier and Barbary Falcon. Over the years it has earned a reputation for first-class birding, with some of the scarcer species such as Semi-collared Flycatcher, Bimaculated Lark, Hooded Wheatear and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater all possible here. One day we will also make a late evening visit in search of nocturnal species including Egyptian Nightjar and Pharaoh Eagle Owl, although sightings of both are somewhat unpredictable in nature. Mammals are also frequently encountered here, and may include Fox, Jackal and if we are lucky maybe even Striped Hyena.
Black Scrub Robin
Western Reef Heron
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