Saturday 18 April 2009

Birding trip Israel 3-12 April 2009 notes and comments

· We notched up 194 species, not bad for an un-guided party of two. This could be increased by going with more observers and using the services of the excellent local guides.

· The first two hours of daylight are critical as the birds are far more active and the heat haze has not yet started so being on site at dawn (6:30 a.m. for us) is essential.

· In the desert (such as the Arava Valley), any area of green vegetation or body of water however small is attractive to migrants. Sewage ponds (if you can find them and can stand the smell) can be particularly good and every significant desert settlement has one. Cowsheds and compost-heaps are also good for buntings, larks and other species.

· Heed the advice re water intake in the desert (up to 8 litres per day). You will suffer if you don’t. And wear a hat!

· If possible, avoid birding on public holidays and Shabbat (Saturday) as disturbance from four-wheel drives and other users of the countryside can be intense.

· The current guides to the hot-spots of northern and southern Israel are now rather out of date so be aware of the need to check key facts independently (for example, the road to the ski-lift car park in Mount Hermon now closes at 3:30 not 5:00 p.m.).

· We used a hire car ( are very good value) and drove approximately 1600 km. Road quality and signage in Israel is generally excellent. Driving in the south was straightforward but take care not to exceed the speed limit – Route 90 is heavily policed and I gather that fines are heavy. Despite this, it doesn’t seem possible to drive at the speed limit for more than 2 minutes without a car arriving on your back bumper – tailgating is prevalent which is frustrating if you need to stop suddenly for passing birds. Driving in the north was a more exciting affair so defensive driving tactics are required.

· Camping sites were generally good, in that showers and toilets were available, but the ground can be impervious to tent pegs (not really surprising). Water and snacks were bought at 24/7 stores and the numerous petrol stations. Evening meals were taken at restaurants. The food was always excellent and came in large portions!

We’re already planning a return trip.

Roderick Standing

Dominic Standing

No comments:

NW India - 9th to 22nd February 2020 (Kosi River, Corbett NP, Haripur Dam, Pangot, Sattal, Chopta, Walterre)

If you look through the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent (Grimmett, Inskipp and Inskipp, 2011) you cannot help noticing the huge range of s...