Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A trip to the Galilee - flowers & birds

We had a two day retreat of the Institute of Life Science in the Galilee. The event combined social activities with scientific talks. 

On the way to north we stopped for a trip at Karnai Hittin ("Horns of Hattin") - a hill commanding the road to the Sea of Galilee that is the remains of an ancient volcano. This sites is known for the decisive battle where the Crusaders were defeated by Saladin's forces. 

At this time of year the whole area was blooming with many types of flowers. We had a tour with explanation on the local flowers and wildlife as well as the history of the place.

We climbed the hill and came back through the eastern slopes. Although the sky was somewhat hazy, we did get wonderful views of the surrounding area.

We then continued to Maagan, a kibutz at the south end of the Sea of Galilee where we spent the next two days. A bit before dawn I got down to the beach to capture some birds. I had partial luck but managed to get few shots.

After the morning session, we bussed to Agmon HaHula, an artificial lake at the site of the historical Hula lake/swamp that was drained in the early 50s to create an agricultural land. This site is the stoping place for many migratory birds, and now is a nature reserve. 

We had guided tours by our own bird experts from the university. 

Afterwards we were taken on a tractor ride to the field where the local crane population is concentrated. It turns out that the local authorities and the farmers feed the cranes here to stop them from going into the surrounding fields. The cranes are shy of people but not afraid of the tractor (similar to animals on the safari). This way we got real close view of the multitude of birds.

This was definitely the highlight of the trip. 

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