8 Apr 2014

8 April 14 - Another Owl

It was an uneventful journey down to Eilat with few birds seen en route. However, we did have a quick roadside stop by the Arabian Oryx reintroduction site in the Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve. Arabian Oryx were extinct in the wild, but reintroduction schemes are being pursued in a number of countries including Israel, Jordon, Saudi Arabia, UAE & Oman with a view of reestablishing captive bred populations. Currently, there about about 100 Arabian Oryx in Israeli & the ones at Yotvata Hai-Bar are in a large 12 square km fenced enclosure. They are accompanied by a number of other species they are trying to reintroduce including Ostriches.
Arabian Oryx (left) & Addax (right): Some Arabian Oryx have already been released back into the wild in Israel, but there appear to be no plans to release the Addax, until they can be sure they once occurred in Israel
Dorcas Gazelle: These were on the other side of the road from the Yotvata Hai-Bar Reserve & we assumed they were wild as we didn't see any other Mammals or Ostrich on that side of the road and think the fence may be to keep animals off the road
Once at Eilat, we checked into our hotel, the Nova Like, for the next 4 nights & soon after were heading back to Yotvata again for some uninspiring food in the restaurant there, while we were waiting to meet up with our Owl guide, Itai Shanni, for the night.
There was time to celebrate the previous night's Hume's Tawny Owl (with ice cream of course)
Itai with Edge, Nigel & Simon: At the end of the evening, Itai gave us a few extra sites to try over the following few days
While we waited for it to get dark, we headed off to the sewerage works at Yotvata as there were a pair of Little Crakes feeding on one of the pools there. One of the Little Crakes was feeding in the edge of the reeds, but didn't show itself well enough to allow any photographs.
Green Sandpiper: This flew into the muddy pool & started to feed
Green Sandpiper
Temminck's Stint: The Green Sandpiper was then joined by this Temminck's Stint 
Yellow Wagtail: Yellow Wagtail races are often really hard to figure out, especially on migration. This looks like a 'superciliaris' bird which is a hybrid of Yellow Wagtail races
Masked Shrike 
Next stop was the two large circular fields on the Yotvata kibbutz. We walked this one in the hope that the Oriental Skylarks that had been present there over a week ago were still around. But we didn't seriously expect they would be given Yotvata is regularly watched by Itai. We also had a drive around the neighbouring fields in case there were any Caspian Plovers around as one had been found near Ovda earlier that afternoon. Not surprisingly there weren't any at Yotvata.
The circular field is irrigated by a huge circular sprinkler
Fox: Initially feeding on the edge of the circular fields
Fox: The Fox then sat on the dunes which are part of the borderline with Jordon & watched us
Finally, it started to get dark. Once dark we drove around a number of fields in the Yotvata area. After a couple of hours of looking, Itai spotted a Pharoah Eagle Owl in the spotlight, which gave good views.
Pharaoh Eagle Owl: This is the nominate ascalaphus subspecies which ranges from NW Africa to Egypt, Israel & West Iraq