The International Birding & Research Centre Eilat, IBRCE

The International Birding & Research Centre Eilat,  IBRCE

When:  January 2020            Weather:  Cold 12-15C

Leica M10P 35mm Summilux.  Nikon P900

Eilat at the southern tip of Israel sits on the northern shore of the Gulf of Aqaba, sandwiched by Egypt and Jordan, seen here top right of map.

map of the gulf of aqaba, gulf of aqaba maps

Eilat is also known as a birding location as the migratory birds use it as a stopover point on their migratory route although this is usually in the autumn and spring seasons.  This being winter, I had been told that the birding would be thin…

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The migratory routes….

The birding is centered on the International Birdwatching and Research Centre Eilat IBRCE which is run by Noam Weiss and his team.  They were most helpful prior to my visit giving me relevant information on where and what to see and helping with bird IDs.  Other birding sanctuaries would do well to follow the example set here.

I arrived at the IBCRE at 730am on a Thursday, it’s but a 15min cab ride away from my hotel on the North Beach.  Thursday was a good day to be there as there were few people there as against the Friday visit when lots of noisy people were around.

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On arriving there, you see this large canal outside the premises where the birding starts….

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Stepping inside, there is a welcome sign next to the visitor centre which was not quite open yet…

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At the first hide, this was the scene before me; in the background you can see the North Beach hotels

black headed gull

Water birds were aplenty..here a black headed gull

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Black headed gull landing

black winged stilt

Black winged stilts were probably the most common species there

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Black winged stilt in flight

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Black winged stilts

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On the other side of the valley were the mountains of Jordan…the border being just a few hundred metres away

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And much as I had shot pictures of planes landing in Taipei City a couple of weeks ago, the mountain backdrop made the landing shots interesting

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and from way across the valley, I spotted this Eurasian Kestrel..apologies for poor picture

common greenhank

Common Greenshank

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The IBRCE is very much a work in development..here is a brand new foot bridge leading to a small island where you can get close to the waterbirds

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Walking around the reserve, I was fortunate enough to run into a few people looking for birds and one of them was the director of the IBRCE Noam Weiss himself. Noam was kind enough to let me follow him and his colleague around the reserve on their regular round

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This is one of the large ‘walk in’ bird traps….birds and trapped and counted and ringed for research

marsh harrier

Noam immediately pointed out a Marsh Harrier flying right in front of us..and another sparrowhawk

wood marten

Wood martins were everywhere in ceaseless flight…only roosting at night

chiff chaff (2)

some chiff chaffs also zipped around

chiff chaff

Chiff chaff

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Little grebe

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These little desert seedlings were planted with local irrigation piping

spectacled bulbul (3)

Another common bird seen was the Spectacled bulbul whose yellow vent resembles our yellow vented bulbuls in South East Asia

spectacled bulbul (2)

Spectacled bulbul

spur winged lapwing

Spur winged lapwings were also common

spur winged lapwing (3)

Spur winged lapwing

blue throat (2)

and one of the birds I had been hoping to get better pictures of, the blue throat finally made an appearance from across a pond. Noam said they were common but this was the only one I got a shot of….still need a better one

Sardinian warbler

A Sardinian warbler…another lifer

palestine sunbird (4)

Final bird of the morning..a flash of colour…

palestine sunbird (5)

A Palestine sunbird with its blue green hues

palestine sunbird (2)

Male palestine sunbird

palestine sunbird (6)

Male palestine sunbird

palestine sunbird female

the female Palestine sunbird was much drabber

The IBRCE publishes a little booklet that details various birding locations in Eilat and one of the places mentioned was Holland Park which is just across the main highway from the IBRCE so the next morning I got a GETT car to Holland Park with a rough plan to explore it and end up at the IBRCE…

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The car dropped me off at the Dunlop tyre place next to a gas station and I crossed the road in this vague direction….

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at the back, there was a gravel track that went along the forest edge..

gracefu prinia

A graceful prinia flitted around

graceful prinia (3)

graceful prinia

graceful prinia

graceful prinia

Arabian warbler

and from a long way away hidden behind a leaf appeared another new bird..

Arabian warbler (2)

An Arabian warbler; thanks to Naom for ID

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This most unlikely of birding locations was adjacent to a car parking lot where new cars awaited delivery…

pied wagtail

A Pied wagtail appeared in the car park

pied wagtail (2)

Pied wagtail

blackstart (3)

then this handsome fellow perched nearby

blackstart (4)

A blackstart or black redstart….the black tail easily seen here

blackstart

Blackstart fanning his tail..I shot many plumbeous and white capped redstarts in Taiwan a few weeks ago but these were my first blackstarts…

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the distant mountains on the Israel side had interesting colours in the morning light

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Mountains of Israel

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On google maps, there was a place labelled botanic gardens very near Holland Park so I wandered over there to have a look….there were few birds and not very many plants in this quaint garden and definitely not worth the 28shekels admission. I guess they get credit for trying to green the area up a bit but the best thing about it was the view of the underlying bird sanctuary across the road…

 

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View of the IBRCE from the botanic gardens…the new yellow bridge can be seen in the middle with the surrounding wetlands

I then walked down to the main road and found a route that allowed me to walk to the visitor centre of IRBCE….

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The bund in the middle had interestingly coloured sand and gravel banks

great cormorant

A great cormorant

grey heron

and a grey heron

ring plover

spotted redshank (5)

Spotted redshanks were active

spotted redshank (4)

spotted redshank

spur winged Lapwing (2)

another spur winged lapwing

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So although the bird count was not high being winter, I nevertheless did manage to see a few lifers in the interesting terrain of Eilat.

 

 

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