by: Janet Aslin
Friday, 7 October 2022 | “Israel is THE place for birding—all year round,” writes Jonathan Meyrav in an article for BirdLifeIsrael’s website. He continues, “October is one of the best months for birding in Israel.” It is now October and the fall migration is in full swing.
Ornithologist Dr. Yoav Perlman agreed with Meyrav’s assessment when he told Ynetnews, “Israel is a bird paradise, because some half a billion birds of more than 300 different species migrate through the country twice a year, in autumn and spring.” Why is this so?
The tiny nation of Israel connects three continents—Europe, Asia and Africa—and provides a bridge for birds who spend their summers in the northern hemisphere and then head south when the weather begins to cool. In addition to its strategic position, Israel offers the travelers one last feeding and rest stop before facing the dry and barren desert.
Israel sees one of the largest migrations of birds anywhere on the globe. And the birds themselves come in many different shapes and sizes. One of the smallest species to visit Israel on their way south are the chiffchaffs, members of the warbler family. The tiny birds measure 10–12 centimeters (3.9–4.7 in.) and weigh between 6–8 grams (0.25–0.31 oz.).
In contrast, one of the largest birds seen here are the pelicans. An adult male pelican can weigh up to 15 kilograms (33 lb.), with a wingspan that can reach 3 meters (9.8 ft.). These giant birds depend on the Hula Valley area where they will fill their bellies with fish before flying south, across the Sinai Desert and down the Nile to reach their final destination.
Although the small birds migrate primarily at night due to cooler temperatures with less wind, the large soaring birds take advantage of the thermals and travel during the daytime, thereby making themselves more visible while they are in flight. Storks are among those daytime travelers.
One of the most memorable moments I have experienced here was seeing a flock of storks soaring above the high-rise buildings of Jerusalem last spring. I felt compelled to stop on the sidewalk and watch in wonder at the gracefulness of the huge birds circling overhead. Slowly they left my field of vision and I moved on, tucking the memory safely away, never to be forgotten.
Israel is a top destination for serious birdwatchers from around the world. But what about those who can’t make the trip? It is now possible to watch the migrating birds, via live webcams at Agmon Hula in northern Israel. Keren Kayemet LeIsrael–Jewish National Fund (KKL–JNF) has installed eight cameras which can be accessed here.
Watching via the webcams won’t be quite the same as hearing the beating of majestic stork’s wings or enjoying the smell of a large body of water, but with a little imagination, it will be better than nothing at all!
Posted on October 7, 2022
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 7, 2022)
Photo Credit: Robin Orack/bridgesforpeace.com
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