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State of Israel

Tristrams
Tristram's Starling Onychognathus tristramii ©Steve Arlow Website

Birding Israel

Israel is a great place to go birding having over 500 resident and migrant species. This is due largely to its location in the eastern Mediterranean at the crossroads of Asia, Europe and Africa. Habitats from all three continents meet here: the snowy peaks of Mount Hermon, the temperate rolling mountains of the Galilee, the warm Mediterranean coastline, the semitropical Jordan Rift Valley, the varied deserts of the south and east, and the Red Sea shores of Eilat's desert oasis. Part of the only land bridge between the three continents, Israel is along the major migration routes between them, with millions of birds making the trip twice a year. All this variety comes in a small package: the drive from north to south takes less than a day and the trip from west to east under two hours.

Northern Israel is blessed with an abundance of water sources, craggy volcanic mountains in the northeast and a temperate climate, all of which attract species not found in other parts of Israel. The north is home to many birds of prey, including Griffon vultures, imperial eagles, long legged buzzards and Egyptian vultures. A prime site for these species, especially Griffon vultures, is the Gamla nature reserve in the southern Golan Heights. A concrete hide has recently been built there atop one of the cliffs directly across from a vulture nesting site, with large screens relaying live scenes from a nest camera. Further north is the Banias nature reserve. Its streams, woods, ancient ruins and huge cave shelter Smyrna kingfishers, rock nuthatches, grey wagtails and other waterside and forest birds. For waterfowl in northern Israel, visit the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias) and the Hula Valley. Among the many birds these sites attract are cormorants, marbled teal, shovelers, moorhens, cranes, glossy ibis, various kingfishers, marsh harriers, black storks, white pelicans and the rare pygmy cormorant. Organized birdwatching tours are available within the Hula Valley Wetlands Nature Reserve.

Just south of the Sea of Galilee is the Jordan River Valley, warm in the winter, very hot and humid in summer. The valley, and in particular the Bet Shean region, is a good place to see an interesting mixture of native and migrating birds, many attracted by the fish ponds and fields of the surrounding agricultural villages. For some semi-tropical or desert birds this is the northernmost extent of their range. The village of Kfar Ruppin has a birdwatching centre, one of the best in the country. Birds in the Bet Shean Valley and northern Jordan Valley include black francolins, black storks, reed buntings, white pelicans, barn owls, ospreys, marsh harriers, Smyrna kingfishers and cranes, as well as assorted ducks, raptors, warblers and egrets, and multitudes of swallows.

Continuing further south one reaches the Dead Sea, a large saline lake nestled in the lowest place on earth, and the surrounding Judean Desert. The crags, lush oases and special vegetation of the Judean Desert are fascinating areas to explore and are home to birds such as fan-tailed ravens, brown necked ravens, Dead Sea sparrows, Arabian babblers, blackstarts, pale crag martins, sand partridges, trumpeter finches, desert larks, scrub warblers, mourning wheatears, white crowned black wheatears and sooty and Barbary falcons. Many of these are also found further south in the Negev and Arava areas. One of the most characteristic birds in this part of the country is Tristram's grackle, a desert member of the starling family. Its loud distinctive call and flute-like song can be heard in many places around the Dead Sea, in particular in date palm groves.

Perhaps the most pleasant way to see birds near the Dead Sea is a hike in the Ein Gedi nature reserve. The natural springs of the Ein Gedi oasis nourish an unusual mix of desert, semi-tropical and waterside vegetation, attracting not only desert birds but also kingfishers and various garden birds such as sunbirds, bulbuls and bush robins. Over the years the little green bee-eater has extended its range north to include Ein Gedi and may often be seen perched on a branch over a stream hunting for flying insects. Other interesting birding sites in the Dead Sea area include the saline oases south of the sea in the Neot Hakikar area and the Metzukei Draggot cliffs over Nahal Darga north of Ein Gedi. Metzukei Draggot not only offers good views of the surrounding desert and nearby Dead Sea, but also puts you at the same height as the ravens and raptors soaring above the wadi.

A beautiful area for watching both desert and waterside birds is the Ein Avdat canyon south of Beersheba, part of the Wilderness of Zin that stretches south and west from the Dead Sea. The area around Ein Avdat is bleak desert but the Avdat spring keeps the canyon floor lush and wet year-round, providing the foliage that attracts many of the above oasis birds, as well as some waterfowl and sandgrouse. The steep cliffs above the canyon are home to wallcreepers, pale crag martins, bee-eaters, ravens and vultures. The fields and sewage ponds around Beersheba are also rich in bird life. Species found in the area include the uncommon houbara, cream-coloured courser, sand partridge and various types of sandgrouse.

At Israel's southern tip is the Red Sea resort of Eilat, perhaps the best known place for birdwatching in Israel. Eilat is a major rest stop for birds migrating between Africa and Eurasia, as it is the first substantial oasis after crossing the Sinai Desert. A birdwatching park lies just north of the town itself, close to the Jordanian border. To get there, turn east at the Eilot Junction north of town and follow the signs for the tree-planting centre. The park includes both salty and freshwater ponds and various types of vegetation, along with a ringing station, which is open to visitors during the early morning and late afternoon or evening, depending on the time of year. If you visit while the ringing station is open they will allow you to ring one of the birds yourself. A huge variety of species pass through Eilat during the autumn and spring migrations and you will see many different birds depending on when you visit.

Typical local birds in and around Eilat and the Arava region include white-crowned black wheatears, Tristram's grackles, desert larks and various types of buzzard, raven and bee-eater. Kibbutz Lotan, north of Eilat in the Arava desert, hosts its own birdwatching centre. Other areas of interest around Eilat include beautiful walking areas such as the Timna national park, the Red Canyon, and roadside lookout points in the Eilat Mountains north of town. In general areas around springs or with groves of acacia or other trees are naturally likely to be good birding spots in these desert regions.

The Hai Bar nature reserve north of Eilat offers a mixture of desert birds, including many raptors, such as Egyptian and Griffon vultures, which are attracted to the predator feeding area. The stars at the reserve, though, are the ostriches, once native to Israel's desert regions but extinct since the mid-twentieth century. The reserve has an ostrich breeding project and there are plans to reintroduce them into the wild. One can tour the reserve with a ranger/guide, who can provide commentary on the birds in the area, as well as the many other desert animals on the reserve.

Moving to central Israel, the Jerusalem region, though more famous for its religious and historical sites, can be interesting for birdwatchers too, with temperate wooded and rocky slopes to the west and the arid Judean Desert to the east. Typical forest birds, many also common in town parks and gardens, include jays, Syrian woodpeckers, several types of warblers and doves, song thrushes, assorted shrikes, blackbirds, robins, hoopoes, sunbirds, bulbuls, kestrels, hobbies, chukars and Scops and barn owls. Lovely areas for hiking and birdwatching include the forested mountainous area just south and west of Jerusalem around villages such as Nes Harim, Ora and Sataf, and forested areas further south near the town of Beit Shemesh and the Beit Guvrin archaeological park.

The Jerusalem Bird Observatory (JBO) is located in the landscaped gardens between the Knesset (Israel's parliament) and the Supreme Court, though you need to bring ID and be patient with security searches. The JBO holds guided birding walks in English every Monday afternoon and does ringing there too. The Israeli capital is also home to prime nesting sites for the endangered lesser kestrel. The Musrara neighbourhood in particular is home to several nests and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) occasionally arranges walking tours of the area.

Birding is also good on the Mediterranean coast, even though much of the coastal plain is densely populated. In Tel Aviv, Israel's major conurbation, the Yarkon River Park provides refuge for many birds, including egrets and glossy ibis. North of the greater Tel Aviv region, coastal nature reserves and small national parks are home to many waterfowl, including many species of duck, egrets (little and great white); spoonbills and assorted waders. The Ma'agan Mikhael and Carmel coasts in particular are known for attracting a variety of bird life among the fishponds and dune wetland areas. Nahal Alexander and the remnants of the Hadera marshes north of Netanya, and Nahal Poleg south of Netanya are other potential birdwatching sites north of Tel Aviv.

About an hour's drive south of Tel Aviv, between the cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, is Park Nitzanim, a dune nature reserve, beach and campsite. A small reed-surrounded lake in the nature reserve is a lovely spot for birdwatching, with reed warblers, clamorous reed warblers, Cetti's warblers, kingfishers and the odd purple heron. I love watching the antics of the lesser-pied kingfishers darting and diving over the water, resembling giant black and white butterflies. As with many of the above birdwatching sites, it's a beautiful place to visit in its own right. If your spouse or travel companion is not into birding, they can still enjoy the lovely dune landscape and beach, especially well known for its beautiful sunsets.

In general there is great interest in nature and wildlife in Israel. Recreational hiking and a love of nature are part of the national culture. Organisations that have become cultural institutions include the Jewish National Fund (JNF); which operates reforestation programmes and manages forests and reservoirs across the country, and SPNI, an environmentalist group. In any given week SPNI runs dozens of walking and hiking tours all over the country, a few of them guided in English, with topics ranging from the natural environment to the human history of the region. A network of nature reserves and field schools across the country offer information for hikers and nature enthusiasts. There are many local hiking and walking groups, as well as 4x4 clubs for people who enjoy cross-country jeep excursions. In addition many communities have active environmental groups.

Twitching, per se, is not as widespread as in England or other European countries and tends to be part of a general interest in wildlife and nature. That said, word of a rare bird sighting can attract thousands of enthusiasts from around the country. Many local Israeli naturalists and ornithologists are active in studying and protecting Israel's birds, while birdwatching centres such as the International Bird Centre in Eilat, the Jerusalem Bird Observatory and the birdwatching centres in Kfar Ruppin and Kibbutz Lotan are part of a reasonably well-developed birding infrastructure. Centres such as the Hai-Bar reserves and the Ramat Gan safari park have conservation projects focusing on preserving or reintroducing local species, including birds, especially raptors. In many parts of the country visiting birders can hire local birding guides to show them around.

In many of Israel's national parks, such as Ein Gedi or Gamla, there will be at least one ranger with a detailed knowledge of the park's birds, though it may depend on who is on duty when you visit. If you plan to visit a lot of national parks, consider buying an annual season ticket from the National Parks Authority, which may pay for itself with just 5 or 6 visits to national parks.

Aside from birds, Israel's main tourism draws are its holy sites, along with a huge number of other historical and archaeological sites. The sun, sea and sand are also popular, with beach resorts in Eilat, the Dead Sea, Tiberias, Tel Aviv, Netanya and Nahariya, among others. Eco-tourism is growing rapidly too, especially in the desert regions. The small size of the country makes it easy to combine all of these with excellent birding opportunities.

In general, Israel has a well-developed tourism infrastructure and English is widely spoken. Many international hotel chains are represented here, along with quality local hotels and rural guesthouses. Low-cost accommodations include youth hostels, field schools and camping. In the peripheral Negev, Arava and Galilee regions one can find guesthouses and campsites oriented towards eco-tourism.

Of Israel's population of 6.3 million, about 80% are Jewish, with most of the remainder Muslim Arabs. Smaller minority groups include the Druze, Circassians, Samaritans and many Christian groups representing western and eastern churches. The national language is Hebrew, but significant minority languages include Arabic, Russian, French, Amharic and Yiddish. Israel is a European style democracy, with a local culture influenced by both Europe and the Middle East.

The Israeli weekend is Friday and Saturday, though many people work a six-day week, taking off only Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. In Muslim and Christian areas the primary rest days are Friday or Sunday respectively. The Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday and ends after sunset on Saturday night. In most parts of the country there is no public transport during this time save for taxis. Many shops and places of entertainment are also closed over the Sabbath and most national holidays, though it varies from place to place.

Though the familiar western (Gregorian) calendar is the primary one in use here, the Jewish festivals, which are national holidays, are fixed according to the traditional Jewish calendar. The main festive seasons are in the autumn and spring, which are also usually the most comfortable times of the year to visit and coincide with peak bird migrations. Be aware that due to the festivals these can be the most expensive times of year to come, and many attractions will be at their most crowded. On the other hand, festivals are the time for many special events, including nature hikes and tours of national parks. When planning a visit, it`s advisable to check in advance when the festivals fall and take that into consideration.

Israel's climate features hot, uncomfortable summers, with humidity high in the coastal areas. The summer is most bearable in the mountains of the Jerusalem area, the Galilee and Golan, where the heat is dry and there is usually a cool evening breeze. Rainfall is rare from May to September. Take care to drink a lot of water, wear a hat and protect yourself from the sun. Winter is the main rainy season, and can be cold in and around Jerusalem and the Galilee, as well as at night in the desert regions, though the temperature rarely dips below freezing. Especially in desert regions, there can be significant differences between daytime and night time temperature; a desert daytime high of 18C (64F) can plunge to a night low of 6C (43F); for example. Winter temperatures along the coast are mild and often pleasant when it's not raining.

Contributor

Leiah Elbaum

leiah@elbaum.org

Number of Species

National Bird: Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epos

Number of bird species: 535

As at July 2018

Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

A Guide to the Birding Hotspots of Northern Israel

Volume 1 | By Hadoram Shirihai, James P Smith, Guy M Kirwan & Dan Alon | Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel | 2000 | Paperback | 118 pages, 63 colour photos, 13 maps |

ISBN: #110101

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birding in Israel

By Dave Gosney | Gostours | 2006 | DVD |

ISBN: 5023017740498

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of the Middle East

By Richard Porter, Simon Aspinall, A Birch, John Gale, Mike Langman, Brian E Small | Christopher Helm | 2010 | Paperback | 384 pages, 176 colour plates, 636 colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9780713676020

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Finding Birds in Israel

By Dave Gosney | Easybirder | 1996 | Paperback | 34 pages, b/w maps |

ISBN: 1907316272

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Photographic Guide to the Birds of Israel and the Middle East

Richard Porter & David Cottridge | New Holland Publishers | 2000 | Paperback | 144 pages, 300 Colour Photos |

ISBN: 1859745083

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Birds of Israel

By Hadoram Shirihai, D Dovrat & DA ChristieHadoram Shirihai | Academic Press Inc | 2002 | Hardcover | 876 pages |

ISBN: 0126402558

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

*National Bird

Hoopoe

[Decided in May 2008 after a national vote of over 150,000 bird lovers]

Organisations

Friends of the Arava Institute

Website

The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies offers Egyptian, Israeli, Jordanian, Palestinian and overseas students an intensive hands-on academic program focussing on our joint environment. The program is conducted in English. Situated on the grounds of Kibbutz Ketura, adjacent to the Jordanian and Egyptian borders, the Institute serves as a regional centre for conservation and environmental protection activities…

International Birdwatching Center - Jordan Valley

Website

Over 300 bird species within 30 km2! Supporting a wide diversity of habitats that are uniquely located along the main migratory path that joins Europe, Asia and Africa makes this one of the best birding hotspots in the Western Palearctic. This is the place to watch flocks of tens of thousands of soaring birds such as storks, pelicans and many species of raptors. The wetland habitat around the Jordan River and fishponds attract a wide variety of waterbirds from great black-headed gulls to common shelduck…

Israel Rarities & Distribution Committee

Information

The Israeli Rarities & Distribution Committee (IRDC) was re-established in 2000, realizing the need to improve the standard of rarity recording in Israel, to monitor changes in the country's avifauna, rarities in particular, and to make these available to the general public. Our main objectives are to improve the standards of rarity recording in Israel, leveling with those suggested by the European Association of Rarities Committees (AERC), and to improve the knowledge on bird distribution and distribution changes in Israel…

Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel

Website

ASPNI, Hashsela 4, Tel Aviv 66103. + 972 3 6388666 ioc@netvision.net.il
Nature Israel, also known as ASPNI, believes in the importance of protecting Israel’s nature. Founded in 1986, our mission is to raise awareness of and support for the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) – החברה להגנת הטבע – Israel’s leading and largest environmental not-for-profit organization. We are a national, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization headquartered in New York.

The Israel Ornithological Center

Information

Israel's unique location at the junction of three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa, makes it a site for an extraordinary phenomena: some 500 million migrating birds cross its skies twice a year. You can obtain real time information through birds fitted with satellite transmitters, Pictures from Latrun Radar, On-Line Camera in nests, The annual Autumn soaring bird migration survey, Ringing Stations and more.

The Israeli Bird Ringing Center

Information

The Israeli Bird Ringing Center (IBRC) is part of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, and it is the professional body trusted with the matter of bird ringing in Israel. Bird ringing is a basic tool for tracking and studying bird activity, and it serves as an important tool in the conservation of nature. As part of its function and goals, the IBRC encourages and supports bird ringing activities for purposes of research and nature conservation.

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

IBA Eilat Birdwatching Center

Information

Satellite View

The park lies on what was once and industrial waste site and is an example of cooperation between the municipalities and the SPNI. Today the park is the center of the IBRCE and is one of the most unique and important birding sites in the country.

IBA Hazeva Field School Birdwatching Center

Information

Due to its geographical location, the Arava Valley is one of the most important migration flyways in the world. In addition this unique ecosystem hosts some remarkable species, some of which are found nowhere else in Israel. Specialties like Nubian Nightjar, Arabian Warbler, Greater Hoopoe Lark and Pharaoh Eagle Owl breed here is small numbers and common residents include Blackstart, Desert Lark, Rock Martin and Scrub Warbler.

IBA Jordan valley birding center

Information

Satellite View

The Jordan valley is a hidden jewel. located in the great rift valley, with tens of natural springs and many man made fishponds and farm fields, the Valley is magnet for resident, wintering, breeding and migrating birds. 500,000 white storks are first to arrive during autumn migration, followed by 400,000 Honey Buzzards, 45,000 Levant sparrowhawks and 100,000 Lesser Spotted Eagles (not the full list of course). At the same time the fish farms and fields of the valley are crawling with migrating passerines, Pipits sp, Wagtails, Warblers, Buntings just to name a few. Shorebirds and waders are searching the muddy ponds for food before continuing their journey south over the desert strip.

IBA Ma'agan Michael

Information

Satellite View

The Nahal Taninim nature reserve lies south of the kibbutz and is the site of an ancient Roman dam and aqueduct, which have been restored by the Department of Antiquities, the Drainage Authorities, and Nature and Parks Authorities.

IBA Ramat HaNegev Birding Center

Information

Satellite View

The Ramat HaNegev Birding Center is one of the newest member of the National Birding Center Network established by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI). Tucked away in the heart of the Negev Desert, the center is the ninth in SPNI’s national network, with a distinct desert character that is all its own.

IBA Tel-Aviv Birdwatching Center

Information

Satellite View

The Tel-Aviv Birdwatching center is the IOC newest center - a thriving hub for birding activities for the huge population of the Dan region.

National parks and nature reserves of Israel

Information

National parks of Israel are declared historic sites or nature reserves, which are mostly operated and maintained by the National Nature and Parks Authority. As of 2015, Israel maintains more than 400 nature reserves that protect 2,500 species of indigenous wild plants, 20 species of fish, 400 species of birds and 70 species of mammals

NR Carmel Hai-Bar

Information

Satellite View

Carmel Hai-Bar Nature Reserve is a 1,500-acre (610 ha) breeding and reclamation centre administered by the Israel Nature Reserves and National Parks Authority, situated in the Carmel mountains in northwestern Israel, within the larger Mount Carmel National Park. The Carmel Hai-Bar is the Mediterranean climate counterpart of the Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve which operates in the desert.

NR Gamla

Webpage

Satellite View

The Gamla Nature Reserve in the central Golan Heights is a wonderful combination of nature, landscape and historical remains. It is home to a globally unique number of raptors for its small size, including rare species, and one of the world's most ancient synagogues…

NR Hula Valley

Information

Satellite View

Hula Valley is an agricultural region in northern Israel with abundant fresh water. It is a major stopover for birds migrating along the Syrian-African Rift Valley between Africa, Europe, and Asia. The marshland around Lake Hula, a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying malaria, was drained in the 1950s. A small section of the valley was later re-flooded in an attempt to revive a nearly extinct ecosystem. An estimated 500 million migrating birds now pass through the Hula Valley every year.

NR Yotvata Hai-Bar

Information

Satellite View

The Yotvata Hai-Bar is the desert counterpart of the Carmel Hai-Bar Nature Reserve which operates in the country's Northern Mediterranean forest.

Forums & Mailing Lists

Israbirdnet

Mailing Group

Discussion Group Mailing list for birding activities in Israel.

Israel Birding

News & Sightings

A free Rare Bird Alert Service

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Carmel Birding Tours in Israel

Tour Operator

Israel's unique location has made Israel a bottleneck and crossroads for bird migration, second to almost no other site in the world. Research has shown that about 500 million migrating birds fly over Israel twice a year. We, at Carmel's Birding Tours in Israel, offer unique bird watching tours with professional guidance and a personal touch. We specialize in customized birding tours to ensure your complete satisfaction…

Alaemon Birding

Facebook Page

Amir Ayalon's Eco tours, Environmental conservation & Environmental consultant

Birding Ecotours

Tour Operator

Our Owls of the World trip to Israel can be combined with other fascinating birding sights such as the thousands of migratory raptors. Many birds' migration paths pass straight though Israel (about half a billion birds pass through!) Also visit the Red and Mediterranean Seas.

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2009 [09 September] - Tristan Norton

PDF Report

...The walk along the (already baking) gorge revealed many tutting and chacking sounds emanating from the shrubs and boulders – certainly several Eastern olivaceous warblers were present as well as Graceful warblers, Blackstarts and Mourning wheatears...

2009 [12 December] - Julian Bell - Eastern Mediterranean - the Tamar field off Israel

Trip Report

The job was an AUV geophysical survey with a variety of geotechnical sampling in order to map possible routes for the offshore section of a gas pipeline from the Tamar field to Israel. The vessel mobilised late November at Limassol, Cyprus and we went home just before Christmas via Haifa in Israel. Early in the New Year I returned for a couple more weeks…

2011 [03 March] - Dave Read & Andy Shooter

Report

…This proved to be an extremely successful tour with far too many highlights to list them all, certainly amongst them would be the exceptional views of the diminutive Namaqua Dove, breeding plumage Caspian Plovers and displaying Macqueens Bustard. We were joined for the first two full days by the renowned Israeli birder and excellent guide Barak Granit who's help found us many sought after species including Long-billed Pipit, Striolated Bunting and up to 80 Syrian Serins. He also escorted us on two evening excursions, the highlights of which were excellent views of Nubian and Egyptian Nightjars as well as Pharaoh Eagle Owl…

2011 [03 March] - John Gallagher

Report

…We followed the track off to the left (marked by the red & white metal posts) and had Stonechat, Syrian Woodpecker, Jay, Black Redstart and a a group of unidentified Eagles migrating far overhead (possibly Spotted or Steppe). Migration seemed to be well underway as a group of Cretzschmar’s Buntings were spotted as well as a single Cinereous Bunting. Eastern Black-Eared Wheatear and Finsch’s Wheatear, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chukar & Blue Rock Thrush were also recorded here. Large Flocks of Common Crane were also seen flying over Mount Gilboa…

2012 [03 March] - Steve Arlow

PDF Report

…Also keep an eye on the sky here as we had four Egyptian Vultures, a couple of Griffin Vultures, Steppe Buzzards, Black Kites and Lesser Kestrels rising on the thermals at about 10.30am from the nearby petrol station….

2013 [03 March] - Dominic Standings

Report

…The Temminck’s Larks from earlier in the winter had obviously gone but in their place were at least 4 Bar-Tailed Larks close to the road and a few Short-Toed Larks flying around. Other desert specialists were 85 Spotted Sandgrouse settling on the plain, a calling fly-over flock of Crowned Sandgrouse and many Desert Wheatears. Migrants were represented by several Ruppell’s Warblers and Cretzschmar’s Buntings and our only Ortolan Bunting of the trip…

2013 [03 March] - Josh Jones

Report

…Afternoon spent birding sites around the Dead Sea before an evening spent searching for Nubian Nightjar and Hume’s Owl with Barak Granit. Overnight drive south to Yotvata…

2013 [04 April] - Steve Arlow & Lee Ebbs

PDF Report

…The ponds vary in water levels which benefits different species, amongst the commoner species were White Pelicans, Greater Spotted Eagles, Ospreys, White and Black Storks, Spoonbills, Common Cranes, Yellow Wagtail forms and various waders…

2014 [03 March] - Mike Neale

Report

Short trip in March to the South of Israel. Weather wet and windy and impacted Migration. Even so birding was fun and some 125 spps. seen. ( List available on request) – Using the Guide to Birding Hotspots of Southern Israel…

2015 [07 July] - Joshua Bergmark

PDF Report

...managed to see mostly what I was hoping for, specifically Marbled Duck (5 observed), Black Francolin, Pygmy Cormorant and Squacco Heron, along with supporting Eurasian Thick-knee, Woodchat Shrike, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Western Yellow Wagtail, Graceful Prinia, Eurasian Hobby, Crested Lark, Syrian Woodpecker, European Bee-eater, Red-rumped Swallow...

2016 [01 January] - Ben Macdonald

PDF Report

This second trip to Israel was carefully planned to take in a range of exciting winter targets in the country and therefore take us from the Golan Heights in the far north to the Eilat Mountains in the very south, via the ever changing scenery of the Dead Sea, Galillee, the Arava Valley and the Negev Desert. We would like to thank Jonathan Meyrav...

2016 [02 February] - Mark Hows

PDF Report

...We were up early and headed for a morning drive on the 171 road, we quickly encountered some of the common bird species Arabian babblers, several wheatears, chukars, brown necked ravens etc. but no sign of the Onagers which were our targets. We popped back into the accommodation to check in and have a quick shower. The accommodation was a little weird but we hardly spent any time there....

2016 [03 March] - Steve Arlow

PDF Report

After a gap in 2015 to go to Texas I was looking forward to returning to the desert again and this would be the first time in March since 2013. As with many repeat trips some things were the same and some things were different in this case new sites.

2016 [05 May] - Steve Arlow - Birding Southern Israel

PDF Report

...Birding, apart from that undertaken on the way to and from the Arava, was all in the south of the country thus mileage was kept low and again accommodation was at Lotan. Whilst Lotan was not particularly birdy this time around it was preferable to staying in noisy Eilat, though a combination of heat, dust, AirCon on the flight and in the car meant that I had a largely blocked airways resulting in some mega snoring. This meant we looked around the Kibbutz to sleep elsewhere on a rotational basis so I didn’t keep Simon awake too much. Somewhat entertaining to find empty rooms to bed down in overnight, dragging mattresses out to sleep under the stars or me sleeping in the car, which thankfully had a passenger seat that went back a long way. All adds to the experience of birding holidays, if they were all the same they’d be boring...

2017 [03 March] - Steve Arlow

PDF Report

I decided to go a week earlier than I have done in the past and go straight south to optimise my chances of increasing my encounters with Ruppell’s and Subalpine Warblers as previous trips have usually only turned up one’s or two’s of Ruppell’s and none of SubAlps. This year it wouldn’t have mattered as it was an exceptional year in the Arava for both species with lots of both being found in many locations. Overall the Arava had great numbers of some species and almost completely absent of others; my best year ever for Ruppell’s Warblers, Subalpine Warblers, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Steppe Buzzards, Steppe Eagles, Temminck’s Larks, Bar-tailed Larks, Hoopoe Larks, Desert Wheatears, Sardinian Warblers, Alpine Swifts, Collared Flycatchers, Desert Finches, Greater Sandplover. Worst year for Namaqua Dove...

2017 [04 April] - Julian Thomas

Report

.... There has been a dramatic spread of introduced species such as Common Myna, but also some natural colonists like Pygmy Cormorant and Black-winged Kite. It was reassuring to find species like Eagle Owl and Bonelli’s Eagle at exactly the same sites occupied in 1989...

2017 [04 April] - Mike Watson

PDF Report

Returning to Israel for the first time in almost 30 years was an exciting prospect. It was once my favourite destination and was one of the first places I birded outside the UK back in the 1980s....

2017 [04 April] - Nicolás Ordax

PDF Report

...Nitzana (flats): large plains with very little vegetation. One of the best desert areas and the top spot in Israel to see McQueen’s bustard. Not only did we have some good resident species such as bar-tailed lark, little owl and sand partridge, we also got some good migrants most notably isabelline and eastern black-eared wheatears...

2017 [09 September] - Nick Moss

Report

This trip was specifically planned for this usually unpopular time of year to bird in Israel, as I hoped to see 3 fairly difficult Western Palearctic raptors - Sooty Falcon, Lanner Falcon, and Levant Sparrowhawk, that I badly wanted to see, and then there was always other lifers I saw the potential to catch up with such as MacQueen's Bustard, Smyrna Kingfisher, Arabian Warbler, Nubian Nightjar, and various species of Sandgrouse.

2018 [02 February] - Gergő Gábor Nagy

PDF Report

...We took a taxi and went to the Dolphin Reef. A lot of sandpipers including greater sand plover but no striated heron. We went to the North Beach by taxi and observed brown booby, western reef egret and pied kingfisher too...

2018 [05 May] - Steve Arlow

PDF Report

...The north was primarily visited to collect a few new birds and try a different area, the Hula is at its best in winter and this showed during our May visit. Whilst Mt. Hermon has superb habitat I never really clicked with the site but found other areas in the Golan, such as the Valley of Tears with its singing Black-headed Buntings and Tel Shifon with its displaying Calandra Larks and passage Lesser Spotted Eagles far more satisfying....

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Kibbutz Lotan

Information

Kibbutz Lotan Center for Bird watching is located in the heart of the great migration flyway through the Arava Valley near Eilat, Israel. Lotan provides an ideal to base for a birding tour for both groups and individuals. Comfortable guest lodging with full board is available throughout the year with tea/ coffee and other refreshments in all the rooms. Most of the birdwatching center`s activities are carried out during February to June and September to November. As well as superb on site birding, the center operates fully guided bird tours, a ringing (banding) station, raptor migration surveys, and a daily census. There is also an excellent bird reserve on the premises. First rate local guides are available for daily hire in season.

Festivals

Champions of the Flyway

Website

Champions of the Flyway is an extraordinary bird race for conservation that takes place annually, in the unparalleled and legendary migration hotspot – Eilat, Israel.

Eliat Birds Festival

Information

The Eilat Birds Festival is hosted by the Israel Ornithological Center and is designed to bring together birders from the world over for an unforgettable week of birds, migration and nature during the peak of spring migration...

Hula Valley Bird Festival

Information

During the peak birding season in the Hula Valley, when the migration season is at its height and the wintering species have already arrived, come and enjoy a great variety of activities: lectures, guided tours and identification workshops which will be held in the field by some of the best international experts…

Observatories

Jerusalem Bird Observatory

Information

Satellite View

The Israeli government has allocated a one-acre plot (5000 square meters) of prime real estate between the Knesset and the Supreme Court for the project. The site is one of the few traditional birdwatching areas in Jerusalem that has not been harmed by development, and is centrally located, making it attractive as an educational and tourist centre for the public. For many years the site lay in a state of neglect, with the two buildings on the surrounding grounds used as a repository for organic materials from the neighbouring parks. The area will be cleared of refuse and walking paths will be established. A gardening plan will be implemented in order to attract a wide variety of birds without damaging the existing vegetation.

Blogs

Eilat Birding

BLOG

Birding news from the greater Eilat region

ISRing - the Israeli Ringing Blog

BLOG

Bird ringing activities in Israel: news from the field, forthcoming ringing activity, recent foreign controls, interesting species, in-hand identification and other subjects…

Yoav Perlman - Israeli Birder in Norfolk

BLOG

Though I live in the UK now, I am still happy to help with any kind of information on birds and birding in Israel - latest rarities, finding specialties, identification, tours etc.

Other Links

10 Best Birding Locations

Webpage

Thanks to its unique position at the crossroads of three continents, Israel boasts a soaring birdlife that delights ornithological beginners and experienced birders alike.

Birding in Israel

Information

Israel's most rewarding areas for birdwatching are up north around the Hula Valley and Golan Heights, the southern desert areas around Eilat and the shores of the Dead Sea. However there is interesting bird watching to be had in many other parts of Israel too, especially during the spring and autumn migrations when the country is flooded with birds from around the world…

Desert Birds

Information

Israeli Birding Website - This website features Israel's latest birding news, including trip reports, rarity alerts and monthly summaries - all with photographs.

Flora and Fauna in Israel

Information

Packed into Israel’s small area are snow-covered mountains, parched deserts, fertile fields, lush woodlands and long stretches of sand dunes. No less than four different geographical zones are included in the State of Israel, and the country’s climate ranges from semi-arid to temperate to subtropical….

Lesser Kestrel Decline

Article

We studied the ecology of the Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni, a globally threatened species, to identify the factors causing its gradual decline in Israel, in order to stabilize and possibly restore its numbers. Lesser Kestrels in Israel breed in colonies, both adjacent to human settlements (rural and urban) and in the countryside…

Southern Israel Birding Sites

Information

Here are further details about the sites we visited in Southern Israel during our holiday in September 1997. Most books provide details about the best sites, such as Eilat`s salt pans, but what I`ve tried to do here is provide a little further advice about the sites we looked at. In other words the information here is simply from our own experiences and is not intended to be a comprehensive site guide. For info about the Sandgrouse drinking pool in Eilat, look elsewhere! We never made it there!

The Israeli Center for Yardbirds

Website

Israel is blessed with a great variety of birds, and bird-watchers from all over the world come here to watch our birds…

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Amir Ayalon

Gallery

I am a keen photographer with a passion for Nature and wildlife, i currently live in Tel-Aviv Israel with my lovely wife, Gorgeous son, and two crazy cats. Since early age i was fascinated by the Nature and Wildlife around me, and have found that you don’t have to look far to find beautiful places and amazing wildlife. Pockets of nature exist even in an urban society, but as we continue to over populate our planet, wild animals and truly wild places continue to diminish...

Photographer - Avi Blumen's Birds Photos

Gallery

My name is Avi Blumen, I live in Israel, I'm 50 years old married and a father of a 1 teenage boy. I work as a graphic artist as well as a technical photographer in an advertising agency. On my free time I love to take nature photographs - mainly birds…

Photographer - Dubi Shapiro - World Photo Galleries

Gallery

Quality Images of many rare species from all over the world including remote area as Madagascar, Papua and Indian Ocean Islands…

Photographer - Edri Shimon

Facebook Page

I am a nature photographer from Israel…

Photographer - Erez Avraham

Gallery

Fine Photographer from Israel…

Photographer - Ilia Shalamaev

Website

I was born in Andijan, Uzbekistan, and now make my home the beautiful land of Israel. Since I was young, I learned to enjoy and appreciate the wonderful and diverse landscapes and wildlife my country of origin had to offer…

Photographer - Israel Fichman

Gallery

The photo's in these galleries are all taken in Israel…

Photographer - Pablo Rudaeff

Facebook Page

Israeli Photographer with some very fine work – particularly specializing in ‘action’ shots of birds…

Photographer - Roie Galitz

Gallery

Some bird pictures among other galleries - but very high quality…

Photographer - Yoram Shpirer

Gallery

Some excellent photos of natural subjects…