SEEN - SE European Bird Migration Network
Night life in the Southern Arava Valley, Israel

Noam Weiss, Jill Oron, Tzadok Tzemack, Lynette Mitchell, Reuven Yosef
International Birding & Research Centre in Eilat, P. O. Box 774, Eilat 88000, Israel
Between August 2006 and April 2007 we surveyed the area between Taba in the south and Badi Barak in the north nocturnal species. The main goal of the survey was to locate and understand the current status of the Hume's Tawny Owl (Strix butleri) in the southern Arava region (the Rift Valley between the Dead and Red seas). The species has not been surveyed in the area in a systematic manner in recent years. We surveyed the area using the optimal stratified sampling method wherein we conducted transects by either walking, driving, scanning and listening, and/or playing Hume's Tawny Owls calls, every 1Km, in suitable habitats and related areas. During the survey, suitable habitats for the Pharaohs Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo ascalaphus) were also surveyed in order to verify Shirihai (1996) who wrote that Hume's Tawny Owl will not occur in an area where Pharaohs Eagle Owl are present. We found three (3) pairs of Hume's Tawny Owl. All were located in remote canyons, at a distance of at least 5 Km from any human presence, including agricultural area. We also located six (6) pairs of Pharaohs Eagle Owl in most of the big wadis that end in fields and plantations. The owls were observed feeding in agricultural areas, and flying towards the mountains - probably the nest sites. We did not observe Hume's Tawny Owl in the proximity of Pharaohs Eagle Owl. We also found several Egyptian Nightjars (Caprimulgus aegyptius) in the Yotvata area and were unusual this year. The first winter record for Israel was in late January 2007, and at least 5 more birds arrived in March. We observed them through out March. We also observed interesting mammals such as striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena) and Blanfords foxes (Vulpes cana).

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