Sketching Out Blog: Sketches of art, watercolor, photos, recipes, books, interviews, Jewish topics, and Highland Park, New Jersey

Hula Birds: Gallinule, Lapwing, Egret

Hula Valley birds
Among the birds I saw at the Hula Valley in Israel: gallinule (moorhen), lapwing, egret, crane, pelican. My daughter saw a small blue bird fly by quickly twice – this may have been a kingfisher.

A bit of history about this magical (to me, at least) place in northern Israel:
Back in the 1950’s the malaria-ridden swamps of the Hula Valley were drained. However, this caused ecological damage. From the leaflet of the Hula Agamon Lake: “Over the years the peat earth that is typical of the Hula(organic earth the the remains of plants and animals) dried up, broke up, sunk, and even started to burn underground. The worst thing was that the phosphates and nitrates in the earth were washed into the Kinneret and polluted its waters.” In the 1990’s earth was restored; the project included digging canals that allowed the control of water in the area.

One of the major benefits of the 1990’s work was this ornithological spot, unique in the world. Over this area twice a year no less than 500 million birds migrate.

Learn more here:

This bird is a spur-winged lapwing or spur-winged plover.

Here is a gallinule – note that orange beak.

nesting box
Here my daughter is standing by a white nesting box. We didn’t see any birds near the box, but the box reminded me of the boxes we saw at Cape May. According to the literature we were handed when we entered, these are for white owls. It seems the white owls eat voles, and voles do damage agriculturally, so eliminating the voles is a good thing.

I got some good photos of the handsome egret.


egret in flight
I believe this is an egret in flight.

The most abundant bird species in the area are the cranes.

Those spoonbills sure have funny beaks. (see

This furry-looking guy is a muskrat.

rainbow in hula lake
Ah, after rain on and off, it’s nice to be rewarded with a rainbow!

rainbow with birds
Even better, here is the rainbow with birds flying by.

Notes on visiting Hula Agamon Lake: don’t do what we did and try to walk the whole thing. We should have rented the golf cart. It’s a big area! There are also bikes available to rent. It would be great to visit during a migratory period, but I feel fortunate that I got there at all.

For more nature notes, visit:
Nature Notes

Lorri M. says

What fantastic photos, Leora! Each one is beautiful on its own. I love the Egret...looking so dignified with its long, slender neck. The photos with the rainbow are stunning! Your daughter is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing your photos and for the descriptions and history. You are fortunate that you got there! I would have been in feathered-friend delight! xo

Leora says

Thank you, Lorri, for once again being a first visitor to a (favorite of mine) post. I am already scheming in my head on a future trip to the place. Kfar Blum, with its wonderful hotel (used to be a socialist kibbutz, but times change!) is nearby. A friend pointed out it is close to Tzefat as well. And on the other side is the Golan - more sights to see.

Lorri M. says

Oh, that sounds like a wonderful trip! Judging from the photos of this post, and from other insights I have read on FB, I can see why this is a favorite post of yours.

Eileen says

Hello Leora, it must be a birder's paradise in Israel. I believe your pelicans look like the White Spoonbill to me. They are all beautiful birds, I love the all. Pretty shot of your daughter. Great shots and post. Enjoy your new week!

Leora says

Eileen, thank you for the identification of the white spoonbill. Next time I go, I should spend a little more time looking at the pelicans.

Lorri M. says

Good catch, Eileen. I missed that, and should have realized they weren't pelicans in the photo. I have pelican photos that I have taken at the nearby lake-their bills are different.

Susan Cooper says

That was amazing. We humans do know how to mess things up. Every now and then we figure out how to make it right. That truly is s magical place. I love that wildlife has a sanctuary like this once again. Thanks so much for sharing.

Donna@Gardens Eye View says

What a beautiful spot! Thanks for sharing it with us....

craftygreenpoet says

wonderful selection of birds, the spur winged lapwing is so handsome.

Michelle Ramblingwoods says

Hello Leora.. so often man moves in and changes things and then we find out that it was the wrong thing to do. I am glad that it was fixed up and back to being a wonderful habitat again. Great series of photos. I have watched your daughter grow up into a wonderful young lady.. time flies... I hope you can get back there again,,,Michelle

Leora says

Michelle, I think what they did in the 1950's was make it livable for humans - they made it so humans could farm and not fear malaria. In the 1990's they made it so birds would flock there in droves. Somewhere I read that a farmer purposely feeds all those cranes a lot of crane food so they will stay on the nature reserve and not bother his crops. We can live together with the other creatures, but it takes a bit of creative work on the part of us humans.

Jeannette Paladino says

Fabulous photos, Leora. And I learned something new. I didn't know about the Hula Valley and the migration of birds. Something many people don't know is that Central Park in New York City is one of the best birding spots in the United States, attracting birders from all over the world.

creativejewishmom/sara says

I was just trying to identify a bird whose photo I took today on a Pesach outing and came across your post. So glad you got to experience the Hula Valley, one of my very favorite places! We live in Northern Israel and it is such a treat to see the migrating birds pass overhead twice a year, as we saw today! I don't know if you've ever seen my blog, but I think there is lots of content that would interest you! Pesach Sameach!

Leora says

Sara, thanks for visiting. How wonderful that you get to see the migrating birds. A beautiful part of the world you live in.


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