Thursday, 23 December 2010

Record number of GREATER SPOTTED EAGLES wintering in ISRAEL

I spent the last 3 days surveying wintering raptors for the IOC at the northern Valleys in ISRAEL

This winter Beit Shean and Harod Valleys are harbouring phenomenal numbers of GREATER SPOTTED EAGLES, never to be seen in this area before. A total of 67 eagles were counted in the last three days between Gesher to Tirat Zvi and from Sde Nahum to Geva. This number is a bare minimum after eliminating any risk for duble counting. Gesher holds five eagles, the main area being Maoz Haim - Hamadia with no less than 26 and 11 more to the south, mainly in Tirat Zvi. Beit Shean Valley itself held 37 eagles (without Gesher). The rest (25) were counted at Harod Valley, mainly in Mesilot-Beit alpha and Hefziba fishponds. This is a record number also for Harod Valley.

It was interesting to locate a roost of Eagles in Jordan just across the Jordan river. up to 12 eagles roosted on some Eucalyptus trees not far apart, across the border. These birds spend their day around Maoz Haim fields.

More raptors of interest: 1-2 Steppe Eagles, 1 probable hybrid Lesser x Greater Spotted Eagle, 1 juvenile White tailed Sea Eagle, 28 Ospreys - a record number of wintering birds, Short-toed Snake Eagle, 1 Peregrine, 6 Merlins, 1-2 Pallid Harriers, 5 Hen Harriers, Long legged Buzzard, 6 Common Buzzards and 20 Eurasian Sparrowhawks.

Away from raptors: 4 SOCIABLE PLOVERS at Maoz Haim and 2 Richards Pipits around, only 100 Great Black-headed Gulls (mainly at Mesilot fishponds) and at Kfar Rupin Fishponds at least 1,000 Little Stints and a male Little Bittern at Newe Eitan (Barak Granit)

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