The Fisher King

We are in Israel and it is hot. We have 5 nights in Jerusalem followed by 4 nights in Eilat on the Red Sea coast. We have naturally spent some time strolling around the old town and will see several important Holy Land sights over the next day or two including Bethlehem, Masada and the Dead Sea area. Impressions so far are mixed which is perhaps not unexpected in a country that is itself something of a conundrum. The people are friendly and very helpful but tension is obvious and military personnel at times seem to outnumber tourists, which is for us an unusual and perplexing situation. To cap it all a sparrow crapped on my head yesterday which I thought a most unwelcoming act. Anyway let's not worry about the violent history and the politics because I'm sure as hell not going to be able to make any profound judgments on those topics. Let's stick to what I do know something about, the wildlife.

We spent most of today at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory, a one acre plot in the middle of a city that is expanding at the same alarming rate as my waistline. The place was thronged with birds and butterflies of all kinds which just goes to show what a few trees and bushes and a strategically positioned pond can achieve. A charming oasis set optimistically amidst never ending miles of concrete. The star of the show was undoubtedly the white-throated kingfisher that sat patiently on overhanging branches waiting for some hapless frog or in one case a baby terrapin to show itself. It really doesn't pay to be small or tasty in this world (Kylie Minogue excepted). There were lots of migrants on show chief amongst them lesser whitethroats and blackcaps, although we also saw chiffchaffs, spotted flycatcher and all too brief tantalising glimpses of one or two warblers that will simply have to be put down as the ones that got away...unless the blurred images I took reveal something more when loaded on a proper PC. Anyway hope you like the following images which give a taste of what we saw today.

Lesser Whitethroat

Many of these slim, pale migrants were using the JBO to stock up before
continuing their migration. Most were sporting a ring as this one is. 

White-throated Kingfisher

A resident here and one of a breeding pair.

Female Blackcap

Male Blackcap

Who Would be a Frog?

Spectacled Bulbuls

Two males having a spat, fanning their tails and wings to show the yellow
under tail coverts to great effect

Despite its best efforts the kingfisher could not swallow this baby terrapin. It
eventually popped out of the beak and hopefully was not too badly injured.

Hooded Crow


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