Friday, December 6, 2013

November birding in Israel

A large pond in the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens offers birders an excellent place to watch for Little Egret and at least two species of Kingfisher. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.

Last month I had a chance to do a little birding in Jerusalem, a place which is not only rich with thousands of years of history and culture, but  a wonderful place to go see an incredible range of species passing through on their way to and from Europe, Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean and other parts of the Middle East. Over the course of a few days I visited the Jerusalem Bird Observatory, the Wohl Rose Garden and the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, where I saw many interesting birds.

A Eurasian Jay searches for food along the edge of a stream at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory in Israel. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.
At the Jerusalem Bird Observatory I spent several hours inside the hide watching Eurasian Jays, European Robins, White-spectacled Bulbuls, Palestine Sunbirds, Laughing Doves and other birds that I got to know fairly well when I lived in Jerusalem in 2009. I also had a chance to speak with some staff and volunteers at the observatory who were doing a bird banding demonstration, and were nice enough to let me know which birds watch out for in the area this time of year.While I saw many great birds at the observatory and in the Wohl Rose Garden across the street I have to admit I was slightly disappointed that I did not see a Bluethroat, a particularly striking bird that I have wanted to add to my life list for some time now. One surprising find were two House Crows, a species not native to Israel and more commonly found in India, but which has established a presence in the country.

Hooded Crows like the ones in the photo above are a common sight throughout the city of Jerusalem and can often be seen perched in trees and foraging for food in city parks. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.

I particularly enjoyed birding in the botanical gardens, with its winding paths that take visitors on a botanical tour of the world. It was here that I added 4 new species to my life list: Grey Wagtail, Little Egret, Sardinian Warbler and White-throated Kingfisher. I also had a lot of fun trying to get close to and photograph some of the lizards that were enjoying the late Autumn sunshine, basking on the rock walls that line the walking trails.
At the Jerusalem Botanical garden a  Little Egret stalks along a partially submerged cable, hunting for food. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.

In total I added 23 species to my year list, and 10 to my life list, which was not bad considering I had limited time to go birding. I'm looking forward to returning soon and getting out into other parts of the country to look for dessert species in the south and hopefully to visit the Hula Valley, one of the best spots for birding on the planet.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.

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