Israel Science and Technology Directory

Birding Sites in Israel : Mount Hermon

By Keith Marsh from Bird Forum, Great Britain.

No birding trip to Israel is complete without visiting Mt Hermon in the extreme north-east of the country. This area, peaking at 2224m 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-center at about 2000m. 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 and possibly Finsch's Wheatears, Crested and possibly Calandra and Bimaculated Larks. Further on Cretzschmar's Bunting, Upcher's and Ruppell's Warblers are likely and between Mas'ada and Majdal Shams White-throated Robin is present in summer. 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 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-center. Alpine Chough can also be seen at the highest levels but is rare and possibly also the endemic race of Shore Lark. Raptors found in this area include Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Bonelli's and Short-toed Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard and Levant Sparrowhawk.

A winter visit to Mt Hermon may produce Radde's Accentor, Red-fronted Serin and Pine Bunting, all rare species in Israel.

BIRDS INCLUDE: Cattle Egret (W), White Stork (PM), Black Kite (PM), Egyptian Vulture (Su), Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle (Su), Northern Goshawk (W), Levant Sparrowhawk, Steppe Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard (PM), Golden Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Lesser Kestrel (PM), Chukar Partridge, Woodcock (PM), Collared Dove, Little Swift (Su), Little Green Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Syrian Woodpecker, Desert Lark, Calandra Lark, Bimaculated Lark, Short-toed Lark (Su), Crested Lark, Woodlark, Shore Lark, Crag Martin, Tawny Pipit (Su,PM), Yellow-vented Bulbul, Common Wren, Radde's Accentor (W), Eurasian Robin, Bluethroat (PM,W), White-throated Robin (Su), Black Redstart (Su), Blackstart, Isabelline Wheatear (Su), Black-eared Wheatear (Su), Finsch's Wheatear, Rock Thrush (Su), Blackbird, Upcher's Warbler (Su), Olive-tree Warbler (scarce Su), Ruppell's Warbler (Su), Orphean Warbler (Su), Sombre Tit, Great Tit, Western Rock Nuthatch, Red-backed Shrike (Su), Woodchat Shrike (Su), Common Jay, Alpine Chough, Brown-necked Raven, Fan-tailed Raven, Tristram's Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Pale Rock Sparrow, Red-fronted Serin (rare W), European Serin, Syrian Serin, Siskin (W), Crimson-winged Finch, Desert Finch, Hawfinch, Pine Bunting (rare W), Rock Bunting, Cretzschmar's Bunting (Su), Black-headed Bunting (Su).