Sunday, 19 June 2016

Israel 2016 (Honey Buzzards Part 1)

So this is what this particular trip was all about, European Honey Buzzard migration and on a colossal scale.  I guess I had left this trip for far too long and so this was to be the year,  finally I landed in Eilat where i was met by Stevie A of who I had been arranging this trip for quite some time and there I was under a blue sky and a burning sun but feeling ok and up-beat after a day at work, a night flight with BA, then an Internal flight Tel Aviv - Eilat. 

We had to wait until the winds were favourable and in the right direction, of which I was always concerned for wondering if the winds would fail,would this be the year where the EHB's didn't live up to expectation but on the second morning we headed down to the Eilat and up in to the mountains. 

Just after dawn, with the early morning fresh, cool air, buffeting north westerly wind and as dawn chased away the darkness of night, Honey Buzzards were starting to stir, 1's and 2's slowly lifting and flying over the road, we parked up and watched what particular line of route the birds were taking in order for us to move in to position to be able to get the optimum views. 

Numbers begun to build and birds began to kettle above the nearby mountain ridge line, the sun climbed higher and the warmth started to evaporate any remaining chill to the air, EHB's began to provide an insight to the route that they were taking this morning and so we moved closer and slightly lower down through the mountains.  

Being a below average photographer I knew I had to try to photograph this spectacle before me and it is a spectacle, seeing tens, hundreds & thousands of EHB's flying in squadron formation heading north on their spring migration is truly something else. 

To be honest I was somewhat overwhelmed at first not knowing where to look, or what to concentrate on as kettlles of birds were forming in front of me, to my right, behind me, to me my left with birds flying low below me and over the road in front fof me, then there was the job in hand of photographing them and looking for a Crested Honey Buzzard. 

I had to take stock and just concentrate on everything, lol, I was just in awe of the spectacle opening up and engulfing me in, to what was happening all around me. I was scoping distant kettles, binning nearby kettles, photographing close birds and every now and then I would just stand back and take it all in with the naked eye. 

All this happening with just Stevie A next to me or close by, two volunteer counters on the mountain behind us and that was it. No crowds, no noise just the odd Israeli cyclist gagging for air as they cycled up the steep mountain road on which we were stood next to. 

The birds lifted distantly to start with but gradually they bagan to come closer, and lower and closer and then lower.......

lower, and closer........

The counters present from the IBCE were nearby and on the biggest day they had, which was when we present, they counted c58,000 EHB's and we were there on site that day when there was a huge push of birds, this was on the 30th April. 

More EHB's to come in the next post.....

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