ISRAEL – SPRING 2002
Birdfinders continued its unbroken run since 1996 of spring tours to southern Israel, where a warm welcome awaited the group and absolutely no problems were encountered whatsoever. As most birders know, the Eilat area is totally divorced from the problems in the rest of the country.
On our first morning we saw the very rare Pied Stonechat that had wintered near Eilat; we made a second pilgrimage to see it on our final morning, when, to our surprise and delight, we watched it being pushed around by an aggressive Black Bush Robin! Other highlights in the Eilat area included majestic Great Black-headed Gulls, mysterious Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse, engaging Namaqua Doves, a stunning Citrine Wagtail, the scarce Arabian Warbler and eye-catching Palestine Sunbirds.
An excursion into the Negev Desert with Hadoram Shirihai gave us views of a Pallid Harrier, a covey of Sand Partridges, two fine male Houbara Bustards, three additional sandgrouse species and a cuddly-looking, calling Hume's Owl, as well as many other wonderful memories.
Our Dead Sea visit was also eventful and included views of impressive Steppe Eagles, showy Little Crakes, two Nubian Nightjars, a gaudy Smyrna Kingfisher and several distinctively shaped Fan-tailed Ravens.