Saturday, 11 October 2014

Israel Harriers

I visited southern Israel at the beginning of April this year and had planned to update the blog daily with exciting pictures. Due to technical issues I wasn’t able to connect to the wide web world with my PC and had to be content with text updates via my phone. Since then I’ve regularly promised to upload the pictures but only now am I getting around to it....

I intend to upload in a numbers of posts and then have a page with all the pictures together. As autumn progresses and it becomes quieter on the Oslo birding front I'll supplement my normal blog posts each week with an Israel post. I begin with the first posts showing harriers of 4 species.

The circular fields at Yotvata are not just amazing proof that with enough money, will and energy even the desert can be turned green (although where does the water actually come from?) but they are also a fantastic place to watch hunting harriers. There were flocks of hundreds if not thousands of Spanish Sparrows feeding here although I am not sure if this is what attracted the harriers or whether there were also rodents. Never-the-less the area was definitely attractive especially in the evenings. We had adult female Pallid, Montagu’s and Hen Harriers, adult male Montagu’s, a 2cy Pallid Harrier and Marsh Harriers here. Male Pallid Harriers were a bit elusive but we did have one over the beach at Eilat one morning.

adult female Pallid Harrier (steppehauk). Note that in this picture the bird looks like it has 5 fingers although I believe this is just due to the position of the wing in this picture and it is not noticeable in the other pictures

adult female Montagu's Harrier (enghauk). Very similar to Pallid but note that broad white bar on the underside of the secondaries (dark on Pallid), dark tips to the inner primaries (paler on Pallid), more barring on the primaries and a larger white cresecent under the eye

adult female Hen Harrier (myrhauk). Five obvious  "fingers" and brown barring all the way down to the vental area are clear differences to the other two species. In the field the large size of this species was also obvious

adult female Pallid

adult female Pallid

adult female Pallid

adult female Pallid and Spannish Sparrows
2cy Pallid Harrier, an obvious bird with pale collar and dark boa

This female Pallid Harrier looks to be quite red underneath but is not a 2cy. It is most likely a foto effect due to long range a poor photo but may also be an inidcation that it is a 3cy.

unfortunately male Pallid Harriers were not as easy to see but we did have this one flying over the beach in Eilat

adult female Montagu's Harrier (enghauk)

adult male Monties

adult male Monties - same bird as above

a different adult male Monties

a 2cy male Hen Harrier - note the 5 obvious fingers and the grey in the tail which shows (from this angle) that it is a male

male Marsh Harrier - not a very old bird but looks to developed for a 2cy so is I assume a 3cy

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