Eilat Spring Migration Festival, Israel

Southern Israel is widely considered to be a bird watcher’s paradise, with the city of Eilat and the surrounding areas being among the best birding destinations in the Western Palearctic. The Israel Ornithological Center and the International Birding and Research Center have teamed up to organize the Eilat Spring Migration Festival with the objective of gathering together birders from all around the world to enjoy the wonders of bird migration in southern Israel. The Eilat Spring Migration Festival is set to take place during the peak spring migration period, from the 24th through to the 31st of March 2008 and will be based at the Isrotel Agamin Hotel in the city of Eilat.

Eilat is located between the sparkling blue waters of the Red Sea and the magnificent Eilat Mountains. During the migration season, the Eilat area teems with activity as the rugged outline of the Rift Valley becomes a corridor for millions of migrant birds. The variety of habitats in the city and the surrounding areas attracts an incredibly diverse range of bird species, both migrants and permanent residents. Visitors are likely to see birds such as the Laughing Dove, Yellow-vented Bulbul and Palestine Sunbird from their hotel balconies or during a stroll through the city’s many gardens and parks. Migratory birds include raptors, storks, pipits, wagtails, wheatears, hirundines, buntings and larks.

During the Eilat Spring Migration Festival participants can make use of a free guided shuttle service to explore the best birding spots in Eilat and southern Arava. Longer trips to central Arava and specialty tours will also be available. The specialty tours include a trip to the Dead Sea region, which incorporates a stop-off at a special reserve where several pairs of Arabian Warblers are breeding, as well as a swim in the lowest sea on earth. Birders can expect to see permanent residents such as the Fan-tailed Raven, Tristram’s Grackle, Clamorous Reed Warbler and Smyrna Kingfisher, as well as a wealth of migrant birds.

“Southern Israel Nightlife” is a tour that invites participants to witness the desert coming to life as the sun sets. The tour will target local owl species such as the Pharoah’s Eagle-Owl and the rare Hume’s Tawny Owl. Participants can also expect to spot the migrant Eqyptian Nightjar as well as interesting desert mammals such as the Golden Jackal and Southern Red Fox.

In addition to a host of organized bird spotting trips with field experts, the program includes many bird-related activities, including ringing demonstrations, identification workshops, lectures by leading ornithologists and photography competitions. There is no doubt that participating in the Eilat Spring Migration Festival in southern Israel is a bird-watchers dream come true.