Southern Israel: A Spring Migration Spectacular: Mar 21—Apr 03, 2019
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A migration-focused tour in one of the world’s great migration hotspots promises northbound birds in huge variety and numbers, in addition to resident breeders, rare mammals, and a touch of culture.
Best known perhaps for its luminous history, Israel happens to be one of the premier places in the world for experiencing the magic of bird migration. Strategically positioned at the crossroads of three continents, and serving as the land bridge east of the Mediterranean Sea, Israel is a crucial stopover site for millions of birds on migration. Over 200 species pass through Israel each year as they travel from their Eurasian breeding grounds to their wintering grounds in Africa and back again.
Spring is an amazing time for birding here. Migration is evident everywhere, and almost any green space or area with water in southern Israel will hold migrants. The skies fill with mind-boggling flocks of raptors and other soaring birds, and there is a constant trickle of shorebirds and passerines that includes sandpipers, bee-eaters, swallows, warblers, flycatchers, shrikes, buntings, and more. The variety of birds is incredible, with many wintering species still around, resident birds on territory, and wave after wave of migrants arriving daily as the season progresses.
Israel is worth visiting anytime during the spring, but late March is probably the most impressive in terms of the quality of species present and the sheer number of birds around. In addition to migrants, Israel is blessed with many wonderful Near-eastern specialty species including the last viable populations of Macqueen’s Bustard, Desert Owl, Pharaoh Eagle-Owl, Nubian Nightjar, several species of sandgrouse, and a multitude of wheatears, larks, pipits, and more.
Our tour visits all the key sites for migrants and rare residents including the Negev Desert, the Dead Sea and Judean Desert, and, of course, the migration mecca that is Eilat. Birds will be the main fare on the trip, but we will also make a point of seeking rare mammals such as Asian Wild Ass, Striped Hyena, and Arabian Wolf. For a finale, the tour includes a touch of culture with visits to two of Israel’s most historically important sites, Masada and the Old City of Jerusalem.
Good to excellent accommodations and food; fairly long to long days in the field with afternoon breaks on some days; light to moderate physical demands; mild to warm conditions expected, but early season heat is possible; rain possible but unlikely.