A tale that knows no boundaries
A bird shall know neither bounds nor confines of man, remaining a free spirit to brighten our lives, a symbol of peace, fostering friendships for those who share in their joy. Peter Jones
We seem to be forever hearing of conflicts throughout our world with doom mongers peddling their political wares and none expected to sit on the fence without making allegiances. I guess we all have opinions on the world’s woes and I have uncertainties of how we can best meet the challenges posed for peace where conflict appears to have no solution. And so it all seemed to me on a recent birding tour in
Birders, just like birds, tend to go a wandering no matter the political climate, whether they are made of sterner stuff, self-indulgent or just plain crazy who’s to say? When I was invited to attend the week’s activities promised by the Hula Valley Bird Festival, it must have taken me all of 10 seconds to say yes. The chance to revisit
My week’s birding began by joining, what was to become, a tight knit group of avid and likeminded nature nuts. Good humour, shared moments, serious discussion and a bonding that grew with each passing day made for a memorable week. Our first day entailed of cranes and yet more cranes as we left very early morning to catch sight of some 30,000 cranes departing from their night time roost at first light. Wow, what an experience and pure spectacle, such beautiful birds creating a scene I will never forget and the deafening calls of so many individuals just added to the amazing atmosphere. Have you ever experienced a personal and almost spiritual moment, when the hairs on your neck stand-up and you are touched by some unseen force sending such a sense of wonder and well being through your body? Well, this was my moment and as humbling as it was spectacular. Of course the
Our group had an extensive programme for 6 days and apart from being based in the area of the
The third day of my visit saw us head to the seaside on the
Day four and we were off to the Bet Shean Valley via the Sea of Galilee, and as an aside we saw lots of signs warning ‘Swimming not permitted’ although, presumably, it was okay to walk on it? We explored areas around Kfar Rupin and Tirat Zvi with some veritable successes which included 2 lifers for your man here, Dead Sea Sparrow and Pallas’s Gull, superb!! In fact the fish ponds that we visited were incredible for their variety of birds, especially gull species that included Armenian, Baltic, Pallas’s, Caspian and Heuglin’s Gull. In the surrounding area other birds to capture our attention were Desert Finch together with other large flocks of seed eaters. On a sad note, it was distressing to witness various heron species snagged in netting used to cover fish lagoons, although the same netting mesh size was also used at the fish farms in Ma’agan Michael, they at least had patrols to release trapped birds. It was appalling to see on immature Black-crowned Night Heron ensnared by its tarsus and foot whilst still alive, too far for us to reach; we could only look-on as it faced a long and tormented death.
A dilemma, should I attend the conference and lectures being held over the next two days, or should I go a birding. Seems clear enough given the last few days, birding! Actually that’s a little unkind on those speakers at the conference. I would especially have liked to sit-in on Keith Bildstein’s lecture dealing with the geography of raptor migration, a global perspective, but decisions made I accompanied my group, the class of 2011, out into the field. In truth, anyone who knows me will also know I have a deep interest in wheatears, I could not resist the day’s mission of finding Finsch’s Wheatear. In every way this tour was exceeding my expectations, the variety of habitats, the number of bird species and the expert guidance of Jonathan Megrav was proving to be an unbeatable combination, but no Finsch’s Wheatear! We searched the likely and well known Valley of Tears, a terrain of grazed grasslands amidst a rock strewn landscape, looked perfect for my wheatears and yet not a sign, although we managed several other bird species. And so we made our way to the scenic outpost of the Unit 77 memorial site, group photographs, some snacks and at last a Finsch’s Wheatear, in fact 2 males and 2 females! Satiated we made our way to
After just a smidgeon of self-indulgence during the previous day’s activities, I made the conscious and fortuitous decision to attend some of the lectures on offer for my final day at the festival. It was fortuitous because of the quality of both speakers and subjects available. Just some of the choice lectures included conserving birds and their habitats by Ariel Brunner (Birdlife Europe), tourism and conservation linkage by an old friend Tim Appleton, environmental education program in
Understand that life should be a source of experience to be lived up to, not survived through.
The class of 2011.
Tim Appleton, Niklas Aronsson, David Callahan, Pete Dunne, Peder Edvinsson, Daniel Green, Peter Jones, Stephen Menzie, Matt Merritt, Jonathan Meyrav, Bill Oddie, Bobo Olsson, Gert Ottens, Jan Sodersved, Roar Solheim, Sharon Stiteler, Bill Thompson 111, Stuart Winter.
For full article & Bird List (202 species seen in 6 days) see Peter's Blog HERE