Second International Hula Valley Bird Festival in northern Israel proves a major draw from people and fowls alike

Anav Silverman, Tazpit
Published: 12.14.12

Israel hosted the Second International Hula Valley Bird Festival in mid November, to great success.

The festival was organized by the Israel Ornithological Center, the Tourism Ministry, the International Center for the Study of Bird Migration in Latrun and the Hoopoe Foundation

Among some of the lesser known tourists’ hat visit Israel by the millions each year, are 300 species of birds that use it as a rest-stop in their migration paths.

Hula Valley, in northern Israel, is one of the most important stopovers and wintering sites for southbound birds. In late autumn, up to 40,000 Common Cranes visited the Hula Lake to refuel, according to Dan Alon, the director of the Israel Ornithological Center.

“Israel is an ideal location for migrating birds because it is located along the Great Rift Valley flyway, one of the world’s most important bird migration corridors that links Europe, Asia and Africa,” Alon explained.

The flyway is a kind of aerial highway that birds use as they fly between breeding grounds in the north to wintering areas in the south, and provides an array of habitats that are needed by the migrating birds as they travel.

“The birds stop around the vicinity of Hula’s Lake Agamon, to rest, eat and drink, much like human travelers who use hotels, restaurants and pubs,” he added.”

A different view of Israel

For Thomas Krumenacker, a Reuters journalist from Germany, visiting Israel gives him the opportunity to see another side of the country as a birdwatcher.

“It’s an opportunity to be here and to see the beautiful side of Israel beyond the conflict,” Krumenacker said.

“I come to Israel at least three times a year to see the birds. Since I was a child, I’ve loved watching birds in Germany and have always been amazed by what birds go through during migration,” Krumenacker, who is working on a book about birds in Israel, added.

His favorite bird is the Hoopoe Lark, or the Alemon in Hebrew, voted Israel’s national bird in 2008 and one of the rarest breeding birds of Israel found in the Arava Valley in the south.

“Israel is a country of immigration and migration,” Krumenacker quipped. “When I go back to Germany, I share with my friends the fascinating bird life that I see here.”

Other international bird enthusiasts at the Hula Valley Bird Festival were first time visitors to Israel.

Tristan Reed, an ecologist from northwest England, who is also known as the inked naturalist because of 24 species of birds tattooed on his arms, said that “it’s been fantastic to be in Israel. To see thousands of cranes leaving their roosts in the morning was a very emotional experience for me,” Reed said.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to study birds at more natural and personal range.”

Reprinted with permission of the Tazpit news agency,7340,L-4319514,00.html