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Thursday, 11 June 2015

Birder's Journey Starting in Jerusalem

Starting in Jerusalem

Street view in  Jerusalem's Old City
Street view in Jerusalem’s Old City
We started in Jerusalem, and travelled south through the Judean Desert, the Negev, and on to the Arava. More to come soon about the southern views. While in Jerusalem I made a quick stop at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory, with its new Visitor Center.
Its wonderful schedule of events, exhibits, bird banding, and tours included a sign about a Farewell Event for the famous Swifts of Jerusalem.
It is absolutely remarkable to watch the Swifts as they swoop and dive at breathtaking speeds over Jerusalem in the spring. Last June I posted much more about these amazing birds, and the special nature of their connection to the Kotel in the Old City.                     
Click here to learn more: Welcome to the Birds of the Kotel.imageIf you look closely in the photo above, you can discern the images of three speedy little Swifts in flight as they dart in and out of their nesting crevices in the Kotel (Western Wall). They literally never stop!  Common Swifts eat, sleep and even mate in flight!
 But watch this short video clip to witness the Swifts‘ incredible behavior in live action!
While in Jerusalem, I couldn’t help envisioning the ancestors of modern day Turtledoves, Laughing Doves, Rock Doves and other pigeons that populate this busy urban center.
Two thousand years ago, they were raised and bred in ancientColumbaria (Dovecotes) several of which have been uncovered in the Archaeological Park on Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, just on the outskirts ofJerusalem. 
Sign at Ramat Rachel’s Archaeological Park
I also wrote more about this site in a blog post here last year: The Turtledove and the Columbarium
Syrian Woodpecker parent bringing home a treat
 Just before we left Jerusalem, my husband discovered a Syrian Woodpecker family in a tree right across the street from our apartment! 
    Hungry Baby
    It was a treat to watch the parent feed its hungry youngster, who kept peeking eagerly out of the tree.  I was surprised to learn that, unlike in the U.S., where we have many species of Woodpeckers, the Syrian Woodpecker “is the only true woodpecker to occur in Israel.” (A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Israel and the Middle East, by Cottridge & Porter, 2007).

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