To catch some early spring migration and target a few remaining lifers we decided on a long weekend trip to Israel in the first week of March. Main targets where Spotted Sandgrouse (seen multiple times), Desert Owl (known stakeout near Dead Sea), Temminck’s Lark (missed), Clamorous Reed Warbler (common), Black Scrub Robin (breeding at Kibbut Samar but not seen during our short visit in the heat of the day), Ruppell’s Warbler (one seen) and Cyprus Warbler (missed). We chose beginning of March to optimize our chances for Ruppell’s and Cyprus Warbler that migrate through Israel around this moment. In the end we were lucky with a beautiful male Ruppell’s Warbler but we did not see a Cyprus Warbler.
Overall it was a very fun trip and a joy to catch the first signs of spring migration. Next to the targets mentioned above, we encountered many European birds on their migration journey through the desert: Groups of Barn Swallows, Swifts, Bluethroats, Common Chiffchaffs, Isabelline Wheatears, Lesser Whitethroats, Steppe Eagles and Tawny Pipits were among the more numerous ones, but also single individuals of Woodchat Shrike, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Booted Eagle, Red-throated Pipit, Common Quail and Eastern Olivaceous warblers were cool to encounter.