Northern Valleys soaring bird migration survey – fall 2007
Another migration survey has come to a close. Most of the birds of prey have already passed Israel on their way to their wintering grounds in Africa.
The survey which is a joint venture of the Israeli Ornithological Center and the Israeli Air Force is a thorough, serious operation. About a dozen surveyors are spread across Israel's Northern Valleys in posts several KM apart. The surveyors are equipped with radios and are aware at all times of the passage in the sector and when to expect birds coming their way.
Using survey sheets the birders identify, count and document the soaring birds that pass overhead.
Several key species are monitored for various reasons; some of the data gathered here is valuable for research of world populations and distribution of some interesting species. The key species are:
White Storks, which reach their peak early in the season (late August), Honey Buzzards, Levant Sparrowhawks and Lesser spotted Eagles follow as the season progresses.
The survey runs from Mid August till mid October. The survey days are long and sometimes devoid of birds, but when you do get a nice stream or impressive flock of birds overhead, it is truly a rewarding experience.
Here are some of totals that the 2007 team recorded plus a few interesting extras.
White Storks – Over 320,000 were counted, mostly over the northeastern valleys.
We also know that tens of thousands of White Storks passed east of us, over Jordan and the eastern side of the rift valley. This was due mainly to a cold depression weather system that "pushed" the birds east of their original route.
Honey Buzzards – over 413,000 were counted.
Levant Sparrowhawk – around 68,000 were counted.
Lesser-spotted Eagle – 95,000 Eagles passed over Israel, mostly over the western side of Israel's Northern Valleys.
The other Large Eagles (E. Imperial, Steppe and Greater-spotted) passed in relatively low numbers. This season was quite a good one for Montagu's and Pallid Harriers, but relatively few Marsh Harriers passed.
7 Oriental Honey Buzzards were identified and during the survey.
A juvenile White-tailed Eagle was recorded over the Alonim post.
A surprising sight was a flock of 400 Black-winged Pratincole that passed low over the Gvat station. Towards the end of the survey period large flocks of White Pelicans and Cranes start to appear daily and as the last Lesser-spotted Eagles trickle through. By mid October things quiet down and the winterers gradually replace the migration as the fall comes to an end.
Tel: +972 8 6356935;
Toll Free: 1800 2000 75 (when in Israel)