Tour At A Glance

Cost:

1850.00

Deposit:

500.00

Single Room Supplement:

250.00

Tour Code:

Intensive with several early starts and some late finishes

Group Size:

Eight plus leaders

Blackstart Namaqua Dove White-tailed Plover Nubian Nightjar Baillon's Crake Little Green Bee-eater Ortolan Bunting Red-throated Pipit

Southern Israel - The Arava Desert Flyway

Date: 23rd - 30th March 2019 [SPACES]
Leaders: Ashley Saunders & Gary Elton

Itinerary

 

DAY ONE
Fly London/Tel Aviv before transferring to our accommodation [3.5hr drive]. Overnight Kibbutz Eilot.
 
DAY TWO
We will make an early start to get acquainted with some of the sites and common species in the region. We will be monitoring the skies as various soaring birds are already on the move Steppe Eagles, Steppe Buzzard, Black Kite and White Storks  may be seen in the hundreds during March and we should also encounter our first Black Storks, Short-toed and Booted Eagles, Pallid and Marsh Harriers and Egyptian Vultures of the tour. We will return to Lotan for lunch and a short break. The afternoon will be spent birding around Eilot on foot. We will visit the various migrant magnets around the kibbutz in order for our visiting birders to get a feel for the place. The people here are very birder friendly and are used to visitors birding around the kibbutz. Species that should be seen include Barbary Falcon, Brown-necked Raven, Blackstart, Desert Finch, Little Green Bee-eater, Red-throated Pipit, Palestine Sunbird, Isabelline and Black-eared Wheatears and Cretzchmar’s Bunting, whilst species such as Lesser Whitethroat, Laughing Dove, Yellow-vented Bulbul and Spanish Sparrows are plentiful. Overnight Kibbutz Eilot.
 
DAY THREE
We will set out early to bird the Yotvata area. This is a very productive site and has various habitats such as sewage pools, Acacia scrub and fields. We will search the scrub for Eastern Bonelli’s, Eastern Olivaceous, Graceful and Arabian Warblers, Arabian Babbler, Masked and Woodchat Shrikes, Great Spotted Cuckoo and possibly Rufous Bush Robin, amongst a host of warblers and wagtails. The Yotvata area has produced many rarities throughout the years and there is always a chance to find something unusual which has included a Caspian Plover on each of our previous tours. Small numbers of Oriental Sky Lark winter here, while Common Quail are often seen in the dry sandy areas. We will also return here one evening to look for Egyptian Nightjar. We will enjoy a productive session at Eilat`s reservoirs and salt pans, where interesting species may include Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint, Kentish Plover, Slender-billed, Little, Yellow-legged, Caspian and Baltic Gulls, Black-winged Stilt and Greater Flamingo being found amongst more familiar species. We have also seen rarities such as  Kittlitz’s Plover and Sociable Plover here. At North Beach, Eilat, Caspian Tern and possibly White-eyed and Pallas’s Gulls may be found and raptors  and species such as Eurasian Spoonbill and Garganey may be seen coming in off the sea, while Western Reef Heron should be somewhere nearby. There are a few migrant hotspots to check near the town too, which in the past have produced rare species such as Black Bush Robin, while Eastern Bonelli’s, Subalpine and Ruppell’s Warblers are far more regular. We will wrap the day up with a visit to a traditional drinking spot for Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse. Overnight Kibbutz Eilot. 
 
DAY FOUR
Today we will head north towards the Dead Sea region, visiting some sites along the way. We will be covering a lot of road in search for some of the areas special species that include Dead Sea Sparrow, Fan-tailed Raven, Mountain Bunting, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Trumpeter Finch, Pallid Swift and more. On our way back south, we will visit a local site for Nubian Nightjar and hopefully Pharaoh Eagle Owl. This will be a long day and we will carry packed meals with us. Overnight Kibbutz Eilot.
 
DAY FIVE
Today we will set out early to the Eilat Mountains, to one of the best raptor watch points in the Western Palaearctic.  We will focus on raptor monitoring and identification. We will then descend back to the Arava valley and visit some less visited sites for migrant shorebirds, waterfowl, passerines and more. We will also search for more localized species like Sinai Rosefinch, Syrian Serin, Mourning, White-crowned Black and Hooded Wheatears, Desert and Bar-tailed Larks, Scrub and Cyprus Warblers, Sand Partridge, Spotted Sandgrouse and more, all in spectacular scenery. Overnight Kibbutz Eilot.
 
DAY SIX
We will continue to bird around the sewage farms and various migrant traps this morning. In addition to species already mentioned, we should also find Yellow Wagtails of various races, Little Crake, Sardinian Warbler, Namaqua Dove, Eurasian Wryneck, European Hoopoe, Little Green and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, Blackstart, Southern Grey Shrike, Eastern Orphean Warbler and Chukar while sometimes a late overwintering Cyprus Warbler, Cyprus Pied Wheatear or Black Bush Robin can occur. In the heat of the afternoon, we will meet our local guide and drive north-west to the Negev Desert, reaching our accommodation base at Kibbutz Gvulot late afternoon. If time allows, we will stop on the way at the impressive Ramon Crater, and look for some of the breeding raptors such as Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Long Legged Buzzards, Bonnelli’s Eagle and Lanner as well as passerine migrants. - occasionally Syrian Serin can be found here. After a short birding session to explore the Kibbutz grounds on arrival, we retire early to bed ready for an early start tomorrow. Overnight Kibbutz Gvulot. 
 
DAY SEVEN
This is our Nizzana and western Negev day. This is one of the world’s most amazing scenic areas. We will head out very early [06:00] in order to be in Nizzana at first light. The early morning hours will be dedicated to finding the enigmatic McQueen’s Bustard and the elegant Cream-coloured Courser. This area is incredibly productive and we should expect a large and variable list of species. Desert and Greater Hoopoe Larks and Asian Desert Warbler are usually present and in some years Lesser Short-toed, Bimaculated, Thick-billed and Dunn’s Larks can also be found, but these are difficult birds to catch up with and it is unlikely we will be successful with all of them. Nowadays, fewer sandgrouse are present, though we still hope to encounter small numbers of at least three species – Black-bellied, Crowned and Spotted. Overnight Kibbutz Gvulot.
 
DAY EIGHT
The final morning of the tour is spent at various birding spots close to Gvulot, in search for whatever species we might have missed. Our return flight departs mid afternoon local time from Tel-Aviv back to the UK, where the tour will conclude.
 

 

Additional Information

 

WHAT’S INCLUDED
Return flights London/Tel Aviv, seven nights’ accommodation at Kibbutz Eilot and Kibbutz Gvulot, meals from dinner on day one to lunch on final day, airport transfers, services of leaders, transport and reserve entrance fees.
 
NOT INCLUDED
Transport to/ from UK airport and any overnight stay involved, travel insurance, drinks and all items of a purely personal nature. 
 
PASSPORT, VISA & HEALTH
Visas are not required by UK nationals. Passports must have 6 months validity beyond the return travel date. Standard health and innoculation requirements apply for UK nationals, visit www.masta-travel-health.com to check these and if necessary, download a free health brief to take to a travel appointment at your local medical practice. Evidence of a previous visit to another country in the region like an entry/exit stamp in your passport does not normally prevent entry into Israel, although it may lead to additional questioning at the border. It is for the Israeli authorities to determine the right of entry into Israel, so if you have any particular concerns about previous travel to another country, you should contact the Israeli Embassy in London.
 

 

Tour Reports

 

2000 | 2009  2010

 

Testimonials

 

"Just a quick email to thank you all for such a wonderful week! The birds were great and the company perfect - it was a pleasure birding with you all" T. F. Yeovil
 
"It was a great experience, a fantastic country with great birds. I really enjoyed the company and would like to thank you and Ashley for finding the birds and helping to improve my identification skills. Hope to travel again with you in the near future" P. R. Kent.

 

"This was the best birding holiday I have had to date. The great views of the birds, stunning scenery and a nice group of people more than compensated for the basic rooms and uninspiring food. Neil & Ashley did a great job and the addition of Jonathan at various times allowed us to visit sites and see birds that would have otherwise been difficult if not impossible. He was a really nice guy too. Once again - thanks for a great holiday!" A.D. Edinburgh

 

“Hi Guys - Hope you are all well and have come down to earth after such a fantastic trip and awesome birds. I echo what Tim said in thanking Neil and Ashley for all their hard work and thanking you guys for your great company and also your ID help. As well as the fantastic birds it was also fun” C. L. Coventry   

 

" Dear Neil and Ashley - I just wanted to thank you for a great holiday. There was an excellent spirit in the group,and I had a lot of fun aswell as seeing many fantastic birds at close quarters. You did a top job"  N.P. Nottingham  

 

"Thanks to Neil and Ashley I enjoed my holiday very much. I had a fantastic time and superb birds. The small group was so much better than the larger ones. I would participate on another holiday and would recommend Oriole Birding to others"

J.S. Nottingham  

 

"First, very many thanks for a super trip and for a very comprehensive trip report. Our fellow birders were splendid company and we enjoyed a laugh with you all!. Thanks again for working so hard to make our holiday a success and we'll see you all again. Give our best wishes if you are in touch with everyone" B & L.R. Lincolnshire

 

“Holiday was great value for money. I particularly enjoyed the loose itinerary. The holiday was excellent.” P S. H. Birmingham.

 

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