• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Trying to sweep up in Southern Israel 21-26 February 2020 (1 Viewer)

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Everyone says you should try floating in the Dead Sea Ken. I can't remember who told me, but one birder I met at Spurn told me he did just that and then forgot to wash the salt off, and by the end of the day when he had been out birding, he had developed the most awful sores around his groin and elsewhere, where the salt rubbed.

For some reason, its most definitely put me off trying it :)-.

I dunno how he forgot to wash the salt off, because when you come out of the Dead Sea the intensely salty solution feels greasy and horrible on your skin! :eek!:

At the place where most people do the deed, there are freshwater showers provided just back of the beach, and very welcome they are too.

Floating in the Dead Sea is a very weird sensation, but the real kicker comes when you want to get your feet down to get up and walk out but are so buoyant that you can't!

John
 

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
Suddenly remembered Nick mentioning the Dead Sea. I can recall floating (got a shot somewhere...) in the Dead Sea with moi reading a newspaper! Then getting out and drying off (seconds) then looking West to Masada and seeing this long line of “black dots“ ascending the mountain, I thought about it...but it was the 2nd week of April (you kinda almost stopped birding at 8am) because of the heat upper thirties at that time....and it was now mid-day!!! :eek!:

Reminds me of when I was at Masada 30 years ago. You couldn't walk up the Roman ramp back then. You had the choice of the cable car or the "Snake Trail." My friend and I decided to hike the Snake Trail to the top, but we didn't feel like getting up before sunrise to do it - as was strongly recommended. We started at about 8 AM and finished just before 10. Oh, and it was July.

That's when I learned first hand what heat exhaustion was. I spent about an hour sitting in the shade pouring water on my head trying to cool down. Scary.
 

wolfbirder

Well-known member
Its all good fun ain't it Jeff, but shows the pitfalls of birding in such hostile and difficult environments. I was extremely grateful the temperatures were nice this time.

As for the Dead Sea John, it doesn't even look vaguely enticing, I'll leave it to others to enjoy its buoyancy. I watched Dave Gosney go for a dip in it, it looked strewn with rubbish.

I really do hope it proves useful to others, thank you Paul. That is my contribution for the year :)-. Will spend the rest of it paying off the old credit card :)-.
 
Last edited:

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
As for the Dead Sea John, it doesn't even look vaguely enticing, I'll leave it to others to enjoy its buoyancy. I watched Dave Gosney go for a dip in it, it looked strewn with rubbish.

I didn't even contemplate going for a swim back then. My traveling companion had done it during a prior trip, and he said the sliminess is nasty, it's difficult to rinse off, and you might even need to sacrifice your swimming togs. I stepped into the water at the shoreline to see how slimy it was, and let me tell you, it was gross.

I can't imagine what the people who swim in it are thinking, never mind those who smear their bodies with the mud. Ugh.
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
Likewise. I had a lift there with some young military folk on a day off who wanted to go for a quick 'swim'. I decided against it as I was rough camping and no chance of a shower to rinse off - so probably a good idea then! Some great rock and mud pool formations in the area though.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
I went for a brief dip in the Dead Sea and it was quite nice. Mind you this was actual Dead Sea, not the thing they are trying to sell you in Ein Bokek. Nowadays I am not aware of any site in Israel where there is access, as even in Ein Gedi, the receding levels of the waters made the previous access path useless, but in Jordan, there is a huge and crowded beach still.
 

Paul Longland

Well-known member
Great report Nick.

An area that i hope to visit in the not too distant future (probably after i retire - if i can still afford it). Some outstanding birds but it does sound like a tricky place to bird by all accounts what with the political tensions in the area, not to mention the dodgy car hire! I drive an automatic all the time and almost never put it in Park when stopping as mine does it itself once you switch the ignition off, so i would spend half my holiday waiting for the security system to reset itself!!
 

Steve Arlow

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Great report Nick.

An area that i hope to visit in the not too distant future (probably after i retire - if i can still afford it). Some outstanding birds but it does sound like a tricky place to bird by all accounts what with the political tensions in the area, not to mention the dodgy car hire! I drive an automatic all the time and almost never put it in Park when stopping as mine does it itself once you switch the ignition off, so i would spend half my holiday waiting for the security system to reset itself!!
Hi Paul
Israel really isn't a difficult birding destination despite the occasional 'flare up'.
Granted seeing young teenage soldiers in a service station having a meal with automatic weapons over their shoulders can be disconcerting the first few times you see it but you eventually get used to it.

Getting around is easy due to excellent road and travel infrastructure along with plenty of accommodation etc. One of the negative points is that it can be expensive, Israel isn't a cheap place to visit.

The key code on a rental car can be a nuisance but only really from having to key it in every time to start the car, following the immobiliser kicking in after a couple of minutes after switching the engine off. Only once I couldn't get the car started straight away and that was after putting in the key code incorrectly three times. Resolving this required removing the key from the ignition for a couple of minutes and trying again, successfully. I guess it may depend on the rental company on how they have it set up.

Over all Israel is a safe and easy country to go birding and as long as you take the usual precautions when travelling and stay away from the usual flash point locations then you should be fine.
 

wolfbirder

Well-known member
I agree with everything Steve says, it is extremely safe and there are great birds. Most birders won’t venture into the West Bank (Palestine).

The 5 nights accommodation came to £450 so yes it’s not cheap. Flights with EasyJet cost about £200, and car hire including insurance was about £300 but you can easily get cheaper accommodation and car hire than I did.

Petrol is about same as back home.

The birding is extremely varied according to season and location, this is where research before you go is vital. This was my 4th visit to Israel and although it can be hard work it is also very rewarding.

People are extremely helpful if you have any problems Paul. Get it on your “to do” list mate!

Overall it’s great Western Palearctic birding, 4-5 night breaks using EasyJet and car hire, and booking.com for example for accommodation makes it all very easy.

Smaller accommodation seem to only accept cash, unlike hotels. Petrol is easier to pay using cash too.

But it’s all very doable and reasonably affordable. There are up to date websites for birds, and you can combine a family holiday with birding in Eilat.
 
Last edited:

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
There is really not much of any risk in Israel, despite of what you hear about the conflict, the areas where you go are really safe, even though same might be "technically" West Bank. Minefields are usually clearly marked, firing ranges not so much, but you are unlikely to get actually fired upon :)

Also, I know this is not a good audience for this infomercial, but in my view, Israel is a very cheap country, in particular because it offers endless opportunities for wild camping, often even fully legally at various remote non-developed but marked campsites. Considering how cheap hummus is in supermarkets, the only required extra costs for me are flights and car rental. And Felafel in Mitzpe Ramon, of course, never skip the felafel in Mitzpe Ramon!
 

wolfbirder

Well-known member
As I'm getting on a bit, what worries me most is being attacked by hyenas or Wolves, yet i know the chance is slight as they are bloody hard to find, but at the same time I know my strength is not as it used to be. And being by myself too.

I think Israel is fantastic for birding overall, hence my 4 visits, but I still need Desert Owl, Thick-billed Lark, Pale Rock Sparrow, Oriental Skylark, and also Indian Silverbill. Thick-billed Larks were easiest in 2017, after a wet winter, they were quite easy until April if I recall. This has also been a wet winter, so I was surprised the larks all literally dispersed so quickly.

More and more I need to go birding in the dark, to see some of these and to get better views of Pallid Scops Owl and Pharoah Eagle Owl. Trying to persuade the Mrs to consider Eilat for a holiday! I think I could persuade her if could get direct flights to Eilat from UK.
 
Last edited:

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
As I'm getting on a bit, what worries me most is being attacked by hyenas or Wolves, yet i know the chance is slight as they are bloody hard to find, but at the same time I know my strength is not as it used to be. And being by myself too.

I think Israel is fantastic for birding overall, hence my 4 visits, but I still need Desert Owl, Thick-billed Lark, Pale Rock Sparrow, Oriental Skylark, and also Indian Silverbill. Thick-billed Larks were easiest in 2017, after a wet winter, they were quite easy until April if I recall. This has also been a wet winter, so I was surprised the larks all literally dispersed so quickly.

More and more I need to go birding in the dark, to see some of these and to get better views of Pallid Scops Owl and Pharoah Eagle Owl. Trying to persuade the Mrs to consider Eilat for a holiday! I think I could persuade her if could get direct flights to Eilat from UK.

You might want to hold off on that.

Israel is taking an extraordinarily hardline approach to coronavirus. They've essentially banned tourists from 6 European countries so far as well as a similar number of Asian ones unless they can "self-quarantine" for 14 days. And as many as 100,000 Israeli citizens are already in home quarantine with the government threatening 7 year jail sentences for people who violate that quarantine.

I've got a trip there coming up next month, but I expect it''s only a matter of time before they add more countries, including the US, to that list.
 

wolfbirder

Well-known member
You might want to hold off on that.

Israel is taking an extraordinarily hardline approach to coronavirus. They've essentially banned tourists from 6 European countries so far as well as a similar number of Asian ones unless they can "self-quarantine" for 14 days. And as many as 100,000 Israeli citizens are already in home quarantine with the government threatening 7 year jail sentences for people who violate that quarantine.

I've got a trip there coming up next month, but I expect it''s only a matter of time before they add more countries, including the US, to that list.

Didn't know that Jeff.

Hopefully you will be ok, but it won't affect me as earliest I will be looking at any return is 2021.

But sounds like they are being proactive about it, rather than reactive.
 

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
Didn't know that Jeff.

Hopefully you will be ok, but it won't affect me as earliest I will be looking at any return is 2021.

But sounds like they are being proactive about it, rather than reactive.

I suppose, but it still seems extreme.

And considering how much of their economy is based on tourism, you have to question how much damage they're prepared to do to that for the sake of being pro-active.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
I suppose, but it still seems extreme.

And considering how much of their economy is based on tourism, you have to question how much damage they're prepared to do to that for the sake of being pro-active.

Only 3% of GDP. Yes, there is a lot of tourism in Israel, but there is a lot of economy in Israel. Besides international subsidies, the other main reason how such a small country can afford such insane military is that it is unbelievably productive, in both heavy industry and high tech. Economically, Israel is gonna be as fine as anyone can get in this shitstorm.
 

cafe birder

Well-known member
Supporter
Hi Wolfbirder,

I think you are worrying unnecessarily about wolves. As far as I know there has never been a case of wolves killing a person anywhere in the world in all of history.

(Having followed the mighty Wolves since 1970 I obviously do not include death by frustration during the 80s and 90s)

Surely the real risk you took was in going past the attached sign onto the plain looking for the larks.

Just to check the validity of the information about it being safe on Fridays and Saturdays I drove back up there on a Sunday ! Sure enough I soon came across explosions and tanks so I beat a hasty retreat.
 

Attachments

  • small v sign.jpg
    small v sign.jpg
    77.1 KB · Views: 39

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
Only 3% of GDP. Yes, there is a lot of tourism in Israel, but there is a lot of economy in Israel. Besides international subsidies, the other main reason how such a small country can afford such insane military is that it is unbelievably productive, in both heavy industry and high tech. Economically, Israel is gonna be as fine as anyone can get in this shitstorm.

Really? I would have thought more, especially based on some of the reaction I'm reading about on Israeli news sites. My bad.
 

wolfbirder

Well-known member
Hi Wolfbirder,

I think you are worrying unnecessarily about wolves. As far as I know there has never been a case of wolves killing a person anywhere in the world in all of history.

(Having followed the mighty Wolves since 1970 I obviously do not include death by frustration during the 80s and 90s)

Surely the real risk you took was in going past the attached sign onto the plain looking for the larks.

Just to check the validity of the information about it being safe on Fridays and Saturdays I drove back up there on a Sunday ! Sure enough I soon came across explosions and tanks so I beat a hasty retreat.

Hi Café Birder

That reduces it to just fear of hyenas then.:king:

I had read that Wolves had been trying to take young children recently in Israel, from campsites. Also read that Wolves and Striped Hyenas had even joined forces as a pack to find potential prey, utilising the respective capabilities of both species.

I never saw those warning signs. Even though Hameishar (for instance) is open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays, you would think there is the risk of unexploded shells. The explosions and shooting obviously does not unduly disturb the birds. Surprisingly.



May I also add, for anyone in Israel birding, I strongly advise you to check a few websites for up to date birds on 2 or 3 different sites every night............

www.birds.org.il/en/
Scroll down to "Latest sightings", some which are just standard species but sometimes you can pick up good latest sightings.

www.ebird.org
Paul put me onto this, though it is well known and an excellent resource for latest bird info. When you go onto the page, go to "Explore" tab, then go to "Explore Regions" and input "Israel". Then I suggest you go to the 'Hotspots" tab and then search the locations you want to go to. I am sure there are different routes on the website but I found this the easiest and most helpful.

www.observation.org
Similar to above with facilities to search location or species.

If I had checked thoroughly I would have seen that on 24 Feb there were 3 Pallid Scops Owls roosting in bushes at the junction of Route 12 and the turn off for Ovda Valley and the 'Black Hills'. So it really can be productive to check thoroughly, these sites each night, for up-to-date information.

Finally, on a sub-forum here, I have produced an idiots guide to car hire in Israel. It may be obvious stuff to most but nevertheless it covers the PIN alarm Code, paying at petrol stations etc, issues which seem to be fairly unique to Israel. Feel free to add to it.

https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=387266

PS Regards the Wolves.........yes me too, like you am one of the afflicted, first game 1969, and yes the 80s and 90s were desperately frustrating for different reasons, but just enjoying these great days -sort of have to pinch myself but I wonder how long they will last with the press increasingly trying to manipulate or speculate a move away for Sir Nuno and some of the lads, to one of the big boys.
 
Last edited:

Users who are viewing this thread

Top