Champions of the Flyway 2016 – blog 3

bigDay 3 – Sunday 27 March

I’ve long wanted to visit Eilat in migration time and here I am!

Eilat is a holiday resort on the Red Sea – most people are here to relax and soak up the sun. A couple of hundred of us are here to take part in a Bird Race.  I didn’t expect Eilat to be pretty and it isn’t. I did expect it to be full of birds, and it is.

We spent Sunday exploring a range of local sites and familiarising ourselves with each other, with the birds and with the right turn-offs from the few main roads.  It might have looked like we were just birdwatching but really…no, we were just birdwatching! And it was great.

Confusing wheatears, confusing warblers and confusing raptors – such fun! And then a bunch of confusing larks in the desert too.  Some of the sparrows were a bit confusing too.

We had to consider our strategy at some time but there was plenty of time – maybe.

The birds in the north of the ‘playing field’ are notably different from those down south. The north has species such as MacQueen’s Bustard and Greenfinch – and they each count the same on race day. When I talk of ‘the north’ I’m talking of a 3 hour plus drive, and so it feels as though the choice is heading north before dawn to get the dawn chorus of the Greenfinch and display of the MacQueen’s Bustard (which would you find the most appealing?) or bird south to start with and head north late in the day and head back in the dark of evening.

There’s not much water and water attracts birds – so you need to pick your wetlands to make sure of waders, ducks, herons, crakes etc. There was quite a lot of thinking to do.

But the birds were great too: another ‘spanky’ male Hen Harrier and some quite spanky Pallids too; eastern Imperial Eagle and Steppe Eagle, Black Storks and White Storks, Cretzschmar’s and Ortolans, Tawny Pipits and Red-throated Pipits, Slender-billed Gulls and White-eyed Gulls.

A day-total in the 160s is feasible and might be a winning score. How to do it?

 

The event is over – but the cause goes on! Please consider topping up our fundraising pot here. Thank you for all contributions.

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