Autumn birding in Israel is just as exciting as in spring. The combination of huge numbers of migrants, great species richness and good rarity-hunting means birding is so much fun. While in spring exhausted migrants concentrate in southern Israel after crossing 2000 km of harsh desert before continuing north to their breeding grounds in Eurasia, in autumn the large masses concentrate more in the northern half of Isreal, where the migrants utilize the rich habitats to refuel before crossing the same 2000 km of desert on their way to Africa. The skies are full with diurnal migrants – raptors, storks, pelicans etc.
On the ground, in suitable habitats, millions of passerines use every bush or field to gain energy before resuming their nocturnal migration. Yellow Wagtails, Willow Warblers, Reed Warblers and Barn Swallows are among the massive migrants.
But for me, the greatest thrill comes for watching the vagrants and rare visitors. We get a strong Asian influence here. Here’s a selection of some goodies we had in Israel last week – all very rare birds.
Pied Bushchat breeds from Iran eastwards to SE Asia. The western populations migrate south in winter. This is the 7th record for Israel, found at Yeroham in the C Negev:
Dusky Warbler is a typical LBJ. But it is very rare too! It breeds in Siberia, and migrates to SE Asia. This is the 7th record for Israel too, found together with the above bushchat at the same site!
Pacific Golden Plover is not so rare, with a handful of records annualy, but still a very good bird. This is a moulting adult, found in a small sewage pond in C Israel.
I have been doing so much twitching in the last week or two. Things are supposed to speed up even more in November. I hope to keep my job till the end of autumn.