International Bird Festivals Israel

Filed in Nature by on 10/11/2013 0 Comments
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Birding Tourism

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Dead Sea Sparrows & Tristram’s Grackle – Photo by Josephine Levin © 2013

Israel is blessed with one of the best places in the world to view migrating birds, as 300 species of millions of migrating birds from Europe and Eastern Europe fly over Israel en-route to winter over in Africa. In the spring they again fly over Israel on their way back to Europe and Eastern Europe. A considerable number of birds also winter over in Israel such as the cranes in the Hula Valley. Two international bird festivals sponsored by the Israel Ornithological Center (Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel) are held annually that attract thousands of birding tourists, photographers and nature lovers. For the fall migration a week-long festival is held in the Hula Valley in the Galilee in northern Israel and for the spring migration a week-long festival is held in Eilat on the Red Sea.

Hula Valley International Bird Festival – the Fall Migration

The third international Hula Valley Bird Festival will be held from November 10-17, 2013. This exciting week-long event is based at the Kfar Blum Hotel in the heart of the Hula Valley and offers tours to the best bird watching sites in northern Israel such as the Hula Nature Reserve, the Agamon Hula National Park, Mount Hermon, the Golan Heights, the Gamla Nature Reserve, Mount Arbel National Park and Nature Reserve, the Sea of Galilee, (Lake Kinneret), the Bet Shean Valley, Mount Gilboa, the Yizre’el Valley, the Mount Carmel Coast, Ma’agen Michael and the Afek Nature Reserve.

At the KKL Agamon Hula National Park you can go in a mobile hide which allows you to come amazingly close to the birds. This is a photographer’s paradise! The festival also includes lectures by birding experts. See the full schedule for the festival.

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Cranes at Agamon Hula – Photo by Varda Littmann © 2013

At one time the Hula Valley was marshland that literally was the home and migrating stop off for millions of water fowl. However, in order to stop the spread of malaria, Israel drained the Hula swamps that were home to the mosquitoes that carried the dread disease. The day came when environmentalists realized it was time to try to restore some of what was lost, and thus an artificial shallow lake, the Agamon Hula was made in this area and many  water fowl like ducks, pelicans and  cranes have returned.

The Hula Valley is also close to other exciting places to visit such as the Golan Heights, Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret), the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum (Kfar Nachum), Tiberias, Nazareth, Safed and more.

December Birding Trips to the Hula from Jerusalem

Bring your camera and join the fun!

The Society for Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) is organizing both a day tour on Dec. 4 and an overnight trip Dec. 23-24 to the Hula Valley to see 30,000 cranes and other water birds. Prices begin at NIS 270 for the day tour and NIS 760 for the overnight one. There is a discount for SPNI members. For details email:  jbo@inter.net.il

Eilat International Bird Festival – the Spring Migration

The Eilat International Bird Festival will be held March 23-30, 2014. This week-long festival will include tours to the best bird watching sites in southern Israel such as the Uvda Valley, Yotvata Fields, the Eilat Mountains, Nizzana and the Dead Sea. In fact, Eilat is the first sight of land for birds migrating over the Red Sea from Africa to northern and Eastern Europe. Here they descend on Ofira Park which is just across the street from the Isrotel Agamim Hotel that houses those attending the festival.

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Rock Dove – Photo by Josephine Levin © 2013

The most exciting sightings are those of rare birds such as the Cyprus and Pied Wheateaters including the even more rare Asian vittata Pied Wheateater.

Did You Know?

Israel takes great pains to protect flying and migrating birds and also to protect airplanes from potential collisions with them.

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