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If the political situation allows, no birding trip to Israel is complete without visiting Mt Hermon in the extreme north-east of the country.
This area, peaking at 2,224m and the highest point in the country, supports a selection of montane species that cannot be seen anywhere else in Israel. Mt Hermon has forests and alpine meadows and has a ski-centre at about 2,000m.
Both the summit and the approach through lower areas have an excellent range of birds that cannot be matched elsewhere in the Western Palearctic.
The approach road, Route 98 from Galilee, passes through some excellent stony areas with Isabelline Wheatear and possibly Finsch's Wheatear, Crested Lark and possibly Calandra Lark and Bimaculated Lark.
Another excellent area is between the Nimrod Fortress and Neve Ativ ski-village on Route 989 which also leads to Majdal Shams. From Majdal Shams up to the ski-lift Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush and Rock Sparrow occur on the hillsides, possbily also Olive-tree Warbler. Pale Rock Sparrow also occurs in mid-altitudes on Mt Hermon.
Around the ski-lift itself is the best area for Syrian Serin and Western Rock Nuthatch and Sombre Tit can be found in nearby woodlands. Crimson-winged Finch is usually found only on the summit and to see this species it is necessary to take the ski-lift from the ski-centre. Alpine Chough can also be seen at the highest levels but is rare and possibly also the endemic race of Horned Lark.
Birds you can see here include:
Cattle Egret, White Stork, Black Kite, Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Levant Sparrowhawk, Steppe Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Golden Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Chukar Partridge, Eurasian Woodcock, Eurasian Collared Dove, Little Swift, Arabian Green Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe, Syrian Woodpecker, Desert Lark, Calandra Lark, Bimaculated Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Wood Lark, Horned Lark, Eurasian Crag Martin, Tawny Pipit, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Common Wren, Radde's Accentor, Eurasian Robin, Bluethroat, White-throated Robin, Black Redstart, Blackstart, Isabelline Wheatear, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Finsch's Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Eurasian Blackbird, Upcher's Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler, Ruppell's Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Sombre Tit, Great Tit, Western Rock Nuthatch, Red-backed Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Common Jay, Alpine Chough, Brown-necked Raven, Fan-tailed Raven, Tristram's Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Pale Rock Sparrow, Red-fronted Serin, European Serin, Syrian Serin, Eurasian Siskin, Crimson-winged Finch, Desert Finch, Hawfinch, Pine Bunting, Rock Bunting, Cretzschmar's Bunting, Black-headed Bunting
History and Use
Areas of Interest
Access and Facilities
Visiting this area has been little problem in the past despite the presence of army barriers on the road between Majdal Shams and the ski-centre. However, in the current political climate it would perhaps be unwise to venture into this sensitive area without rigorous checking of the situation.
Content and images originally posted by Steve