Friday, April 18, 2014
GRACEFUL BELOVED GUESTS
Israel is very rich in native bird species, almost 300 of them live here and fly around. And in addition millions of migrating birds cross the country on their way from Africa and Asia to Europe and vice versa. In autumn and spring we often see flocks of herons, cranes, pelicans and storks passing over our heads high in the sky. Birds of prey, like eagles, falcons and hawks return just now from Africa to stay in the mountains of the Golan and Galilee. From the 280 various migrating birds some stay here for the season, either winter or summer, like the slender black cormorants with their hooked bills, for example, they stay in winter. There is a lot of information on the Internet about what is occupying the air space here, if someone is interested.
This photo is the view from our living room windows and the balcony. For some years now storks on the way to their respective destination, rest on those trees you see far on the left, and we stand with binoculars and watch them. With the camera my husband possesses it is difficult to get a good focus of them, he would need a special lens, because it is just too far ahead, but I think those pictures anyway tell the story. This year they came in enormous quantities, about two, three hundred and some days even more. They stay usually for six or seven weeks, this is going on from the beginning of April till the end of May almost. I just came to think, maybe they are not at all the same? Maybe they rest a day or two and then continue their long trip and another batch arrives?
At about five o.clock in the afternoon we see them high up circling and spiraling, using the thermals to glide down. With the red legs stretched downwards they land on the trees, so many of them till the trees are dotted white.
Yesterday my husband called me with excitement and when I stepped on the balcony I could see that a large group was gathering quite near us on the ground. They just stood there and groomed themselves a little with their bright orange beaks. The last sun rays lighted the earth and it could well be that they just enjoyed the warmth. After half an hour or so, when the shadows crept in, they went up on the trees for the night.
If I am up early in the morning, about 5.30 I can see them lift off and either go in search for food near the beaches and small rivers, to fill their bellies with fish, frogs, lizards, tadpoles, and other creepy stuff like that, or continue their journey. I really don't know, but in the evening they are back - the same ones or others?
I love storks, I always did, they are graceful. and they are beautiful, dressed in black and white plumage, with the long red legs and sharp orange beaks perfecting their appearance harmoniously. I would like to be a stork! :-)
Photos by Uri Eshkar.