April 6th – Jerusalem Bird Observatory and the Israel Museum.   Leave a comment


This resident Graceful Prinia was a retrap, ie had been ringed at this site previously.


Yoav Perlman, who had shown us the Nubian Nightjars, had recommended we visit the Jerusalem Bird Observatory whilst in the city. As his brother Gidon was in charge it was easy to arrange for me to do some ringing. This green oasis is sandwiched between the Knesset, the Israeli parliament and the Supreme Court. Finding the general area pre-dawn was easy enough, but finding where to park nearly sparked a full scale security alert.

Two days of bad weather had held migration up and we were blessed with a good number of migrants that morning. Local ringer Yoav Dax, Gidon and I ringed about 75 birds, mainly Lesser Whitethroats and Blackcaps but with a scattering of Common and Thrush Nightingales, Olivaceous and Orphean Warblers and best of all, a couple of Hawfinches.


The eastern and western forms of Orphean Warblers are now treated as separate species. In Eastern Orphean Warbler voice, genetics and the marked undertail coverts are the diagnostic features.


Thrush Nightingale (aka Sprosser) is a regular migrant in April. Although darker and greyer than the Common Nightingales we see in western Europe, it is not so different to the eastern races of Common Nightingale, so care is need in the field and in the hand. Fortunately the length of the first primary and the emargination of the 4th primary is diagnostic.


The best bird of the day was this Hawfinch. An uncommon bird in the UK it usually remains in the tree tops and is seldom ringed as an adult. The huge bill can crush cherry seeds and could certainly do serious damage to my fingers, hence I took a ‘head only’ shot.


Later we visited the nearby Israel Museum and the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, which is housed in this building, designed to look like the storage jar that the scrolls were discovered in.


Photography is banned inside the exhibit, so this photo is taken from the internet. Discovered in 1947 the Scrolls date from 2nd century AD and are one of the most important archaeological finds ever, preceding the oldest original biblical documents by almost a thousand years.


We only had a couple of hours to look around the rest of this very extensive museum. We chose to only look at the archaeology section, which was absolutely superb. Even so we only skimmed the surface. If we ever go back to Jerusalem than a longer visit to the museum will be high on the agenda.


In the outdoor section of the museum is a scale model of Jerusalem at the Second Temple period, ie the time of King Herod or of Christ. To the right is the Valley of Kidron. The model is dominated by the Temple, sitting on the site that is occupied by the Dome of the Rock today. Inside the Temple is the Holy of Holies. The Western Wall, as it is known today, is the nearest part of the left hand wall of the Temple Mount.


Margaret admires an outdoor sculpture at the museum.

From the museum we headed to Tel Aviv where we stayed overnight before going to the airport early on the 7th. We hadn’t used the car at all on the previous two days and hadn’t thought about how much fuel was left. I had hoped we had enough to get us to Tel Aviv but that was not to be. This was a bit of a problem as it was the Sabbath and all petrol stations were closed. We found one with an automated pump but it needed your Israeli ID number to proceed. Eventually a helpful local man paid on his credit card and we gave him the cash.

We toured the old streets of Tel Aviv searching for our hotel, getting a glimpse of the Mediterranean in the process. In the evening we went for a short walk before retiring early, as we had a very early start in the morning. On the 7th Margaret flew back to UK and I met up with the other ringers and caught a flight back to Eilat.

Posted May 8, 2013 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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